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Sir Martin worked in London, Brussels and Paris as a civil servant dealing with economic and European issues over his career. He was Permanent Secretary of the Business and Skills department for six years until 2016, responsible for research and universities.

Martin is strongly committed to diversity and championed gender equality in the civil service. He worked with RADA Business to build an inclusive team-working culture in Whitehall, and led the first department to have an equal number of women and men among its top 160 managers. Since leaving government he has worked in the private and third sectors.