Past Event

Will Hutton

Will Hutton


23 October 2017, 18:15
Hilton Hotel Cardiff

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Will Hutton

23 October 2017

Will Hutton is currently Principal of Hertford College Oxford, a role he has held since September 2011.  As Principal he leads the college in its academic and growth ambitions, responsible to a governing body of more than 40 fellows. In addition he chairs the steering committee of the Big Innovation Centre, a public interest company devoted to promoting open innovation, is a former director/trustee of the Scott Trust which owns the Guardian and Observer newspapers and is a non-executive director of the Satellite Applications Catapult. He writes a regular column for the Observer and occasionally for the Financial Times, and also appears regularly on television and radio commentating on economic, financial and business issues. His most recent TV documentary “The Selling of Britain” was screened on Channel 4 in March 2015. 

Will’s best-known book is probably “The State We’re In”, which was seen at the time as setting the scene for the Blair revolution, and was one of the top-selling books on political economy since 1945.  Since then he has published “The State to Come”, “The Stakeholding Society: Writings on Politics and Economics”, “On the Edge: Essays on a Runaway World” (with Anthony Giddens) an analysis of globalisation and “The Writing on the Wall:  China and the West in the 21st Century”.  Will’s next book – an examination of fairness and due desert in driving vigorous market economies – “Them and Us” was published in 2010. His most recent book, “How Good We Can Be” published in February 2015, reached number 3 in the Guardian best-seller list. 

He has authored a number of independent reports to government.  In 2010/11 he lead a review on fair pay in the public sector at the invitation of Prime Minister David Cameron, and whose recommendations were implemented in part in 2012. He also chaired the Commission on Ownership, which examined to what extent and how ownership matters, ranging from the UK’s market in corporate ownership to the promotion of mutuality in the private and public sector, and delivered its report in March 2012.  The then business Secretary Vince Cable endorsed its principle findings. He has just completed a three year stint chairing  the Independent Fees Commission, established to investigate the impact of £9,000 annual fees on applications, offers and acceptances at English universities and is currently co-chairing a Commission investigating the role of the third sector in society – Remaking the State - reporting in November.

In 2009, he was invited by Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, to join a new independent pro-bono advisory panel on New Industry, New Jobs, Universities and Skills to exploit his knowledge economy expertise. He co-authored a report on the creative industries in 2007 for the then Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell “Staying Ahead: The economic performance of Britain’s Creative Industries”. Other studies include “Where are the Gaps?”,  a review of Britain’s education and training system’s strengths and weaknesses compared to the EU for the then DfES in 2005 and a critical review of the London Underground PPP for the London mayor (2000). He was commissioned by the BBC to write an assessment of creativity in television “The Tipping Point” (2005), and co-drafted the chapter on public value for the BBC’s submission for charter renewal in 2004, “Building Public Value”. 

In 2004, Will was invited by the European Commission to join a High Level Group on the mid-term review of the Lisbon Strategy on Europe’s knowledge economy and act as its “rapporteur” for the final report. He chaired  the Commission created by the then Association of Health Councils of England and Wales, whose report “ New Life for Health”  in 2000 argued that the NHS be established as an independent corporation with a written constitution, prefiguring the government’s creation of a constitution for the health service which became law in 2009.  He also chaired the think tank “The Employment Policy Institute” from 1991 to 2001.

 He began his career in the City, as a stockbroker and investment analyst where he worked at Phillips and Drew (later to become part of UBS) between 1971 and 1977. After an MBA at INSEAD, he moved to the BBC, where he worked both on radio, as a producer and reporter for the Financial World Tonight, World Tonight and Moneybox, and on TV as economics correspondent for BBC 2’s Newsnight.  He also made films for Panorama, leaving the BBC in 1988 to lead the Swiss based European Business Channel.  He returned to Britain in 1990 to become Economics Editor of the Guardian. In 1996 he was appointed editor-in-chief of The Observer, which he left in 2000 to join the Work Foundation (then the Industrial Society) as CEO.  He launched a major programme of change, restructuring and repositioning before in 2008 stepping down to work three days a week as executive vice chair and develop other interests, notably writing, broadcasting and independent research. 

He has lectured and given public addresses widely, including to the annual conferences of the British CBI and the Conservative party, the winter conference of the Italian CBI (Confindustria), the World Economic Forum, the Fabians, the South African and Japanese Parliaments, many business association annual conferences, the LSE, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. He has given evidence on a range of economic, financial and industrial issues to a number of Parliamentary Select Committees. An invitation by the British Foreign Office in 2003 to give a series of lectures on corporate social responsibility in China triggered “The Writing on the Wall “, which has lead to invitations to brief both the then foreign secretary (David Miliband) and the then leader of the opposition (David Cameron) before their respective visits to China, and to present to a conference of UK ambassadors. He presents every year at Cambridge University’s weekly conference of Chinese private and public leaders. He has attended the Britain-France, Britain-Germany, Britain-Holland, Britain-Belgium and Britain- Italy annual colloquia. He chaired EDF Energy’s Stakeholder Advisory Panel from 2006 to 2014. 

Will Hutton is a Governor of Ditchley Foundation, has been a visiting professor at Bristol University (where he took his first degree in Economics and Sociology), has been awarded fourteen honorary degrees and has served as a governor of the LSE from 1994 to 2012, stepping up to become Emeritus Governor. He is a member of the editorial board of the Political Quarterly. He has written a number of policy papers including, “Good Housekeeping: How to Manage Credit and Debt” for the IPPR in 1996, on how to mitigate the growth in credit resulting from financial deregulation and “Putting back the P in PLC” for the Industrial Society in 2001. 

He is a widower, 66 years old and has three grown up children. He is an active sportsman and enjoys a wide range of cultural and creative interests.

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