John Vereker (governor)

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Sir John Michael Medlicott Vereker, KCB, KStJ, FRSA, CInstM (born 9 August 1944) is an independent member of the Board of XL Group plc, and of a number of its subsidiaries and Committees; and an independent Director of MWH Global. He formerly had a distinguished public service career, culminating in his appointment as Permanent Secretary for International Development (1994–2002) and as Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Bermuda, an overseas territory of the United Kingdom.[1]

Sir John was educated at Marlborough College, from which he won a scholarship to the University of Keele, graduating in 1967, when he joined the newly formed Ministry of Overseas Development. He moved to the World Bank, working under Robert McNamara, from 1969 to 1972. After returning to the Ministry of Overseas Development, he was appointed Private Secretary to three Labour Cabinet Ministers--Reg Prentice, Frank Judd and Judith Hart. In 1980 he was invited by the then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher to join her staff in 10 Downing Street, where he served for three years as a member of the very small (three person) Policy Unit established by Sir John Hoskyns, working on public sector pay, the labour market and industrial disputes. He helped to establish the feasibility of withstanding a miner’s strike, and when the detailed strategy defined by the Policy Unit was successfully followed, the foundation of the labour market reforms of the 1980s had been laid.

On his return to international development in 1993, Sir John served as Under Secretary for Asia, and then as Finance Director. From 1988 to 1993, he was Deputy Secretary of the United Kingdom’s Department of Education and Science, responsible for higher education and science. There his responsibilities included doubling the higher education participation rate from 14% to 28%, transforming the old style polytechnics into Universities, establishing the UK’s first Student Loans Scheme – a rare example of a successful public sector IT project – and restructuring the UK’s Research Councils.

In his time as Permanent Secretary, Sir John led the transformation of the Overseas Development Administration from a self-contained enclave of the Foreign Office into the fully fledged and highly respected Department for International Development (DFID). He played a leading role in the establishment of the international development targets, which were subsequently adopted as the Millennium Development Goals; and in coordinating the international humanitarian responses to the conflicts in Rwanda, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Shortly before he left DFID the Prime Minister described DFID as the best Department in Whitehall; and the OECD called it the best development agency in the world.

In 2002, Sir John was appointed (by the Queen, on the advice of the Prime Minister) as Governor and Commander in Chief of Bermuda, acting as de facto Head of State, and with direct responsibility for ensuring the safety, security and good governance of a Territory which developed, during his term, into one of the best regulated of the small financial centres. His initial three-year term was extended at the request of the British Government to nearly six years. Sir John continued to engage with international development issues while in Bermuda. He and his wife hosted many key international figures – including the Secretary General of the United Nations, the President of the World Bank and two British Prime Ministers – at Government House. Sir John led the discussion on public finance for infrastructure at the Commonwealth Finance Ministers meeting on 2003; he was an adviser to the UN Millennium Project in 2004; he led the discussion of catastrophe insurance at the World Bank/IMF annual meeting in 2005; and he was a member of Paul Volcker’s panel on the World Bank’s Institutional Integrity in 2007.

Sir John is a Governor of the Ditchley Foundation, which is devoted to the study of international relations. He was Chairman of the Student Loans Company from 1989–1991. He has been a Board Member of the British Council, the Institute of Development Studies, the Institute of Manpower Studies, Voluntary Service Overseas, the Centre for Global Ethics and the British Consultancy and Construction Bureau. He has been an adviser to the UN Secretary-General’s Millennium Development Project and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He is a Vice Chairman of Raleigh International and a Companion of the Institute of Management. He was a founder Trustee of the International Association for Digital Publications from 2004–2008. He holds an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Keele. He was awarded a CB in 1992 and a KCB in 1999. He was married in 1971; he and his wife Judy, Lady Vereker, have two children.

Sir John was succeeded as Governor in December 2007 by Sir Richard Gozney, KCMG.

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