Peter Gershon

Currently chairman of Tate and Lyle, Sir Peter Gershon spent over 30 years working for major blue chip companies and for government. Peter speaks on a variety of subjects from both the private and public sector, drawing on his immense experiences to deliver insightful and inspirational keynotes to business audiences.

Sir Peter Gershon’s career has spanned both the private and public sectors since he graduated in Mathematics from Cambridge University in 1969.   He is currently Chariman of the National Grid and speaks on a variety of subjects from both the private and public sector. Peter draws on his immense experiences to deliver insightful and inspirational keynote speeches to business audiences.

Speaking Topics

Sir Peter speaks on his personal experiences of leadership in the private and public sectors, public sector efficiency, public sector procurement and partnering between the public and private sectors.  He also shares his personal perspectives on the key similarities and differences between the private and public sector.  He also looks at the depiction of politics and civil service through television discussing 'Yes Minister' ficticious comedy, reality TV or training videos.

Peter thank you for your time and contribution in producing a video interview for our'Meeting of Open Minds' event. Your honesty and insights during the filming were greatly appreciated and the result is inspiring and thought provoking. The video had a great impact on our audience and feedback of the day has been overwhelmingly positive and your involvement contributed to this success.

Starting out in business

After starting in the computer industry (1969-1986) he worked in the telecommunications industry (1987-1994) and then became the main board director in GEC plc in 1994 with responsibility for its £3.5 billion international aerospace and defence business. In this role, Peter led major improvements in the growth of profitability and orders, together with developing the business through acquisitions in the US and joint ventures with French, German and Italian partners. By 1999 the business had a turnover of £3.5 billion and over 37,000 employees worldwide.

Working in the public sector

Following the sale of GEC’s defence business to BAE SYSTEMS in late 1999 he joined the Civil Service in April 2000 as the first Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which had been created following a review Peter had undertaken for the Government in 1999. OGC’s remit is to lead a major programme to reform the way UK Central Civil Government handles over £13 billion p.a. of public procurement. £16 billion of value for money gains were achieved by March 2003 against an initial target of £1 billion.

Reviewing the whole UK Public Sector

In August 2003 the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer invited Peter to lead a major review of efficiency across the whole UK Public Sector (excluding N. Ireland, Scotland and Wales) to identify significant resources which could be reallocated in the 2004 Spending Review to front line services over the period 05/06 – 07/08. By July 2004 the review had secured agreement to, and develop initial plans for the delivery of, a prgramme leading to over £20 billion of saving in 07/08 (the actual savings to end March 08 exceeded £26 billion).

Back to the Private Sector

After more than 4 years of public service Peter returned to the private sector in autumn 2004 and is now Chairman of the General Healthcare Group, Premier Farnell plc, Tate & Lyle plc, and Vertrex Data Science Ltd. His other current appointments include membership of the council of Imperial College and membership of the UK Defence Academy’s Advisory Board. In 2008, at the request of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Peter led an independent review of the Australian Government's use and management of information and communication technology (ICT). His recommendations were subsequently accepted by the Government and are now being implemented.

Sir Peter

He was awarded the CBE in 2000 for services to industry and knighted in 2004 for his work on public procurement. Peter is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering & Technology, the British Computer Society, the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply and the Royal Aeronautical Society; and a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute. He has an Honorary Doctorate in Technology from Kingston University and is an Honorary Fellow of Cardiff University.  

For further information or to book Peter Gershon, call us at Speakers Corner on +44 (0)20 7607 7070 or email

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