John Barker 1945-2016

An appreciation from Vic Dulewicz and Clive Fletcher.

John Barker achieved great success and considerable influence, both as a psychologist and civil servant. He had graduated with an MA in Psychology and Economics from Queens College, St Andrews (where he was president of the Students Union), and an MSc in Occupational Psychology (OP) from Birkbeck College, London. In 1974 he began his career as a Senior Psychologist in the Behavioural Science Research Division, Civil Service Department, one of the most influential OP units in the UK at the time. In 1980 he was appointed Principal Psychologist in the Civil Service Commission and then to Assistant Director of the Civil Service Selection Board. During this period, he contributed much to the British Psychological Society as Chairman of the Standing Press Committee and as a member of the Standing Committee on Registration of Psychologists, the BPS Council and the committees of both the Division and Section of Occupational Psychology.

In order to advance, John moved from the Psychologists cadre to the mainstream administration group within HM Treasury in 1986, first as a Principal in the Personnel Management Division and then as Head of Management Services. In 1995 he moved to the Cabinet Office with responsibilities for senior Civil Service staffing and development and became Director of the Top Management Programme. From 2002 until his retirement in 2007 he was Director of Talent, supporting the Cabinet Secretary on Senior Civil Service appointments at Permanent Secretary and Director General levels.

Thus John worked very much within the OP domain but exercised his influence as an Administrator. In the Cabinet Office, he supported the employment of psychologists. Thanks to his input, OPs were engaged to help in many high-level activities, including the selection of Permanent Secretaries and other top level Whitehall jobs, which broke new ground for the OP profession. It speaks volumes for his stature in Whitehall that his retirement party was attended by three current and previous Cabinet Secretaries. John was awarded the CB in 2003. After retiring John became an Associate of Veredus Executive Resourcing, advising government departments. He also worked internationally on senior staffing and other issues.

Work aside, John was very active in various charities, having been Chair of the Civil Service Retirement Fellowship, Chair of The Kids Task Force and President of Langley Park Rotary Club. Over the years his other interests included playing golf, watching cricket and football, choral singing and collecting fine wines. He was devoted to his wife Viv, son Gareth and daughter Katie and a proud grandfather to Charlotte and Thomas. John was a modest, unpretentious, relaxed individual who rarely raised his voice. He was very approachable, warm, friendly and easy to get along with, having a great sense of humour. He would however be the first to admit that his filing systems could have been much improved! John was a delightful colleague and friend who will be sadly missed by so many.

Vic Dulewicz

Professor Emeritus, Henley Business School

Clive Fletcher

Professor Emeritus, Goldsmiths’ University of London

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