Sir John is a Cambridge graduate who started work in the automobile industry. His career took flight when he founded CAP Scientific Ltd, which grew rapidly to become a core part of the CAP Group plc and subsequently the Sema Group plc of which he was UK Managing Director. He was then asked by the government to take on the transformation of its defence research laboratories into a commercial organisation. In due course these became an internationally successful technology services company and were floated on the LSE as QinetiQ Group plc of which Sir John became Chairman in 2006.At the same time he was asked to take the Chair of the Medical Research Council and in 2009 he also took the Chair of Nesta. Sir John retired from QinetiQ in February 2010. Sir John is a past president of the IET and holds a number of honorary Doctorates and Fellowships, including the Royal Academy of Engineering. He was knighted in 1999.