John was appointed Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Foundation in 2004. He is Chairman of Garvan Institute of Medical Research and a Member of the Business Council of Australia. 

He commenced his career with Esso Australia as a professional engineer holding various positions in Australia and overseas. In 1983 he was appointed to the board of Esso Australia, in 1985 John became Esso's Deputy Managing Director and in 1988 Chairman and Managing Director.

He has also held the positions of Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pioneer International Limited (1993-2000) and President of the Business Council of Australia (2001 - 2003).

He was previously Chairman of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Worley Parsons Limited, and Director of BHP Billiton Limited, Qantas Airways and Hanson plc