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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 13:10 GMT
Profile: Richard Lambert
Richard Lambert
The former FT editor studied history at Oxford
Stepping into the shoes of Sir Digby Jones as head of the CBI business group will not be an easy task.

Sir Digby, with his high-profile media presence, is one of the longest standing director generals of the group.

So naming Richard Lambert as Sir Digby's replacement was somewhat of a surprise.

The Oxford history graduate is viewed much more in the mould of Sir Digby's predecessor Adair Turner - a quiet but insightful intellectual.

Mr Lambert has written Government reports on BBC News 24 and the relationship between higher education and business.

Media experience

However, Mr Lambert's past as a journalist should stand him in good stead to cope with the media spotlight.

The former Financial Times editor began work as a journalist on the paper in 1966.

Richard Lambert combines a formidable intellect with great charm
Robert Peston, BBC Business editor

During his 10 years in charge, he played a pivotal role in refocusing the paper as a more UK-centred title, almost doubling its circulation during his time at the helm.

He also expanded the publication by creating New York, Frankfurt, Tokyo, and Paris editions and also moved the paper online.

Economic experience

In recent years, Mr Lambert has been an external member of the Bank of England's rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

But he has now relinquished the post, almost three years after joining, after agreeing to take up the CBI job, as it could lead to a "conflict of interest".

Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee
Mr Lambert (top row, second from left) has quit the MPC for the CBI

Mr Lambert's experience at the MPC will give him greater understanding of the economic battles facing UK businesses.

As the MPC's only non-economist, he has been praised by Bank of England chief Mervyn King for his ability to bring a broad view to the table and "get to the nub of the question" quickly and succinctly.

His appointment has been widely welcomed, although it was not widely expected.

Back in December, bookies were offering good odds on a woman taking over the helm of the CBI, with the former deputy chairman of the Competition Commission, Denise Kingsmill, the favourite to assume the role.

'Welcome' move

He has an admirable record of working to boost the UK economy
Alan Johnson, trade secretary

BBC Business editor Robert Peston said Mr Lambert's appointment had a "wonderful circularity".

"Richard Lambert started his career as a companies reporter on the Financial Times more years ago than he cares to remember," he said. "Now he's the spokesman for Britain's biggest businesses.

"He combines a formidable intellect with great charm," Mr Peston added.

Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson added that Mr Lambert's appointment was "very good news" for business.

"He has an admirable record of working to boost the UK economy," said Mr Johnson.

"In particular, his 2003 review of how to strengthen collaboration between business and universities and chairmanship of the Retail Financial Services Forum have been extremely valuable.

"I look forward to working in partnership with him."

Mr Lambert said he would be a strong advocate for business interests

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