A former anti-apartheid demonstrator who was once arrested in South Africa, after a short private sector career working for Anchor housing association (1973-75), she then became a researcher for Glasgow Chamber of Commerce (1975-1980), before becoming its chair (1980-1982).
Since this time she has worked for over 10 major quango's in 30 years. Her first appointment was in 1980 to the Arts Council of Scotland. She has developed her career in championing consumer issues within public sector bodies, particularly in health and food standards and regulation, including: Chair of the Foresight Panel on the Food Chain and Crops for Industry; Chair of the Food Chain Centre; member of the Policy Commission on the Future of Farming and Food (Curry Commission). She was, until June 2008, the Vice-Chair of the European Food Safety Authority Management Board. She is Honorary Vice-President of the Institute of Food Science and Technology.
Hutton was non-executive Director of the Scottish Borders Health Board and a member of The King's Fund Organizational Audit Council. She was a member of the Wilson Committee on Complaints in the National Health Service, and of the General Dental Council.
For five years until 2005, she was Chair of the National Consumer Council, having formerly chaired the Scottish Consumer Council. She was Vice-Chair of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, a member of the Sustainable Development Commission and a member of the Energy Advisory Panel for the UK Department of Trade and Industry. She was a member of the Better Regulation Task Force. Chair of the Personal Investment Authority Ombudsman Council, Hutton was then Deputy Chair of the Financial Services Authority until December 2007. She was a member of the Secretary of State's Consultative Steering Group on the Scottish Parliament.
Hutton is Honorary Vice-President of the Trading Standards Institute. Appointed to the board of the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) as a non-executive director in April 2009, Hutton was appointed chair in 2009 by Transport Secretary Geoff Hoon, replacing Sir Roy McNulty; she is paid £130,000 for two days work a week. During 2008, she was on the three-member panel that conducted an independent review of the postal services on behalf of the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. Hutton is a Non Executive Director of Castle Trust, and Non Executive Member of the Treasury Board, and Thames Water.
- "Dame Deirdre Mary Hutton". Debretts. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- "Dame Deirdre Hutton – queen of the quangos". Daily Telegraph. 15 Nov 2009. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Steve Doughty (9 September 2010). "Bonfire of the quangocrats: Four more public sector chieftains facing the chop". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Auslan Cramb (21 Apr 2010). "Deirdre Hutton, CAA chairman: profile". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Financial Services Authority
- "Changes to the Financial Services Authority Board". HM Treasury. Retrieved 2009-06-12
- Civil Aviation Authority
- "Sir Roy McNulty Retires as UK CAA chairman". Civil Aviation Authority. Retrieved 2012-01-26.
- Christopher Booker (5 Jun 2010). "Quangos: the more we pay, the less we get". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-01-26.