Martin Davidson promises a British Council that will work quickly and effectively on its core business of building the relationships that are a critical component of UK foreign policy. 

We bring expertise in working internationally, a global presence and nearly 75 years of reputation to bear, to help vital conversations to happen...

Rebuilding damaged trust in the Middle East, assisting the international conversation on climate change and linking the creativity and innovation of the UK to the world are the three areas where Martin feels the contribution of the British Council is critical.

‘We bring expertise in working internationally, a global presence and nearly 75 years of reputation to bear, to help vital conversations to happen between UK arts and educational institutions and the rest of the world,’ says Martin. ‘Where we are delivering ourselves, we will be focussing on a smaller number of larger activities in areas of the world where we can make a real difference.’

About our Chief Executive

Martin Davidson took up the role as Chief Executive in April 2007, having been Deputy Director General since September 2005. Martin’s commitment to international relationships has been a constant feature of his career, since as a young English graduate he went to Hong Kong as Administrative Officer, taking the high-level decisions on the running of a town of a million people.

When he joined the British Council as Assistant Representative in Beijing in 1984, British Council China was an operation of 6 people working in a converted bicycle shed at the British Embassy. In those days it was illegal for a Chinese national to speak to a foreigner.

Martin played a pivotal part in building this fledgling presence up to its present strength of more than 230 people in four state-of-the-art offices. Martin himself was responsible for opening the South China office in Guangzhou and returned to Beijing in 1995 as Director of an operation fast establishing a reputation in an environment where understanding the Chinese way of working is fundamental. He speaks both Cantonese and Mandarin.

He has also held various posts in the British Council’s Geographical Directorate with responsibilities that have included South East Europe, in a particularly troubled time in the region’s history, the Middle East, East Asia and the Americas.

Martin was born in Lowestoft in 1955. He graduated with an honours MA in English Language and Literature from St Andrew's University. He is married with 3 children.

He is a Governor of Goodenough College and Board Member of the Great Britain China Council.

Martin was knighted for his services to British cultural, scientific and educational interests worldwide in the 2014 New Year's Honours.