John Cridland was yesterday named the £310,000-a-year voice of British business, when he was appointed to replace Richard Lambert as director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) from January.
Mr Cridland, the current deputy director-general, has been with the organisation since 1982, when he joined as a policy adviser. As such, he has not held a senior position within business. However, the CBI was at pains to point out that an "extensive search" for Mr Lambert's successor was conducted by the headhunter Saxton Bampfylde, which compiled a long list of 45 candidates, nine of them women, and whittled it down to a shortlist of six.
Mr Cridland will take over at a crucial time. The Coalition Government is desperate for British business to pick up the slack and create jobs as it prepares to shed 500,000 posts from the public sector. For this reason, the CBI could enjoy more leverage in the corridors of power than it has for some time.
Mr Cridland, 49, said: "Under my leadership, the CBI will be working to create high quality, workable solutions that promote competition and allow all businesses, both new and established, to thrive and prosper, serve their customers, and create jobs. I strongly believe that a combination of innovation, dynamism and plain hard graft will help to rebuild the UK's international reputation and will ensure that the UK is the best place to invest."
Business figures lined up to endorse the appointment. Justin King, the chief executive of Sainsbury's, said: "I have known John for as long as I have been involved with the CBI, and I am delighted to see him step up to the top job to lead the organisation at this particularly challenging time."
The TUC general-secretary, Brendan Barber, said the appointment as "a well-deserved promotion for someone who has been at the heart of the CBI's work for many years". The bonhomie is unlikely to last long, however, not least because Mr Cridland has taken the lead in campaigning for highly restrictive new laws on strikes.Reuse content