After being educated at Repton School and completing his degree at Cambridge University, John started working as a journalist, first at Reuters and then at the Financial Times, where he edited the influential "Lex" column. From there he moved to Saatchi and Saatchi's US holding company, before co-founding Makinson Cowell, a specialist independent financial consultancy firm. After five years, he returned to the Financial Times to become its managing director, before accepting a job as the Pearson Group finance director, where he worked until moving to the Penguin Group, a subsidiary of the Pearson Group. He was Chairman and CEO of Penguin Group (worldwide) from 2002 to 2013.
In addition to being Chairman of Penguin Random House, Makinson is currently Chairman of Kano, a UK-based educational computer company. He was a co-chair of the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian organisation, for many years. He was also Chairman of the National Theatre from 2010 to 2016.
He has used his knowledge of business to help compile a report for the British government, called Incentives for Change, and received a CBE in 2001 for his services to public sector productivity. He was also photographed by Harry Borden for the National Portrait Gallery in Britain.
- Biography at Penguin Group
- Photography at the National Portrait Gallery
- Incentives for Change report
- MAKINSON, John Crowther, Who's Who 2014, A & C Black, 2014; online edn, Oxford University Press, 2014