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Business Analysis & Features

Spotlight on: Jean Tomlin, Non-executive director, Sainsbury's

So it's goodnight from Anna Ford?

Yep, the former BBC newsreader is standing down as non-executive director of Sainsbury's at the end of this year, having joined the board in May 2005.

And it's hello to Jean Tomlin?

Stepping straight into Ms Ford's shoes from 1 January is Jean Tomlin, who will shortly move down from her role as head of HR for the London 2012 Organising Committee. There she was responsible for what was probably the single most successful aspect of the Games, organising the thousands of Games Maker volunteers.

So she's up there in the big league?

Oh yes. She's is up there with Boris, Lord Coe and David Beckham. But most of all she's up there with her fellow Jamaican Usain Bolt. The wife, mother and grandmother, who is 57, told the island's Observer newspaper that she was particularly proud to see it punching above its weight in the medals table.

How did she get to the Olympics?

She began as a graduate trainee with the Ford Motor Company working in personnel, training and industrial relations at a time when car workers were known for their stroppiness. From there she moved to Prudential, becoming head of HR at its online bank Egg, and thence to Marks & Spencer in the same role.

Then Locog called and she had not doubts?

Well, not quite. After leaving M&S (on her own terms) she set up her own business. Fancied being in charge of herself after 30 years. Then Paul Deighton, the chief executive of Locog, asked her to come in for a chat. As a sportswoman she caught the bug quickly and in her own words "absolutely went for it". She described the job as doing in five years what most corporates would aim to achieve in 50.

So what next?

Sainsbury's is a big but non-executive role paying £75,000 a year. Plenty of time to do other things. Mrs Tomlin is going to be in big demand when Locog finally closes its doors in March.