By Claire West

John Cridland is to become the new CBI Director-General. Mr Cridland will formally take the helm at the employers’ organisation at the end of January when Richard Lambert, who has led the CBI since July 2006, steps down.

The appointment follows a recruitment process conducted by Saxton Bampfylde, executive search specialists. The CBI was presented with a broad choice of candidates from a very wide range of backgrounds.

A long list of 45 candidates, including nine women, was whittled down to interview 18, before it was narrowed to six lead contenders; five men and one woman. Mr Cridland, who is currently the CBI’s Deputy Director-General, was chosen from three finalists.
Announcing Mr Cridland’s selection, Helen Alexander, CBI President, said:
“With all eyes on the business community to lead our country’s economic recovery, the role of CBI Director-General has never been more important.
“The nomination panel and I were looking for someone with an extraordinary mix of communication, influencing, intellectual and leadership skills.
“We wanted someone with a proven track record, a firm understanding of public policy and a passion for business. The candidate also needed a clear vision of how the CBI needs to work with the Government and wider society to achieve growth and economic stability.
“His motivation, energy and appetite for change meant that John Cridland was, without doubt, the best person for the job.
“As Deputy Director-General, he has been Richard’s right hand man and an invaluable chief operating officer. He has been instrumental in helping to shape business and public attitudes on issues ranging from the minimum wage and flexible working, to industrial relations and the environment.
“His appointment has been given a warm endorsement by the CBI’s Chairmen’s Committee.”
John Cridland said:
“I am absolutely delighted to have been chosen to lead the CBI at this critical time for business.
“There are many challenges ahead in getting the economy growing and no one thinks that securing the UK’s economic future will be easy. But business people across the country are rolling up their sleeves and getting on with the job.
“Under my leadership, the CBI will be working to create high-quality, workable solutions that promote competition and allow all businesses, both new and established, to thrive and prosper, serve their customers, and create jobs.
“I strongly believe that a combination of innovation, dynamism and plain hard graft will help re-build the UK’s international reputation and will ensure that the UK is the best place to invest.”
Mr Cridland is 49. He was educated at Boston Grammar School and has an MA in History from Christ’s College, Cambridge. He joined the CBI as a policy adviser in 1982 and became the CBI’s youngest- ever director in 1991, when he took over the environmental affairs brief. He moved on to human resources policy in 1995, and has been Deputy Director-General since 2000.
Mr Cridland served on the Low Pay Commission from its inception in 1997 until 2007, as an ACAS councillor for the same period. He was also on the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance, and the Women and Work Commission. He was Vice-Chairman of the Learning & Skills Council until this year, is a member of the Cranfield University Council, and a local school governor.
He lives with his wife Denise in Bedfordshire and has two teenage children. He was awarded a CBE for services to business in 2006.
Ms Alexander concluded:
“A well-run business takes seriously the twin issues of developing talent and succession planning. That both have been achieved and recognised today is something to celebrate. The CBI is proud to present John Cridland as its 10th Director-General, the first insider to come through the organisation to this role.”
Reactions to the appointment from leading CBI members:
Paul Drechsler, Chairman & Chief Executive, Wates Group, said:
“John is the right man for these times: he understands business issues in depth and from many perspectives and will make the case for policy and action in clear and compelling terms. The new voice of business is intelligent, articulate and so well informed on the full range of issues important to British industry. It is a great appointment and John will have the full support of all the CBI members.”
Robert Easton, Managing Director London, Carlyle Group, said:
“John’s experience at the highest levels in government and his excellent knowledge of some of the challenges facing private equity right now, like EU regulation and energy policy, will be indispensable.”
Andreas Goss, Chief Executive, Siemens UK, said:
“He is an excellent choice for the job. I have worked with him a number of times, and what I very much like about him is that he is an expert, and well-organised person who knows business and the needs of members inside out, and works in a manner that makes it tangible.”
Stephen Green, Group Chairman, HSBC, said:
“John’s appointment is exactly right for the CBI. He will bring to the job energy, vision and a deep understanding of the members’ needs. I very much look forward to working with him in my new role as Trade Minister.”
John Higgins, Director-General, Intellect, said:
“John has demonstrated repeatedly a crisp mastery of what all business sectors can bring to the table. He’s a well-respected advocate for business and a great choice.”
Lord Digby Jones, Chairman, Triumph Motorcycles, Former CBI Director-General (2000 — 2006), and Minister of State for Trade and Investment (2007 — 2008), said:
“John’s knowledge, experience, popularity, contacts and prodigious hard work and application to the task will make an enormous contribution to the country in the hard years ahead. He was an excellent Deputy Director-General to me and then to Richard Lambert. I wish him all the very best.”
Justin King, Chief Executive, J Sainsbury, said:
“I’ve known John for as long as I’ve been involved with the CBI, and am delighted to see him step up to the top job to lead the organisation at this particularly challenging time.”
Steve Sharratt OBE, Group Chief Executive, Bio Group, said:
“John is a rare combination of immense knowledge, a sharp intellect and above all he’s a thoroughly decent human being. He will certainly hit the ground running and I am delighted with his appointment.”
James Smith, Chairman, Shell UK, said:
“John Cridland is a great communicator and has the rare talent of finding and solving the essence of a problem quickly. What the CBI does is crucial for our economy, and John is the perfect successor to the brilliant job done by Richard Lambert.”