RAISED in East Anglia , John Barrett went straight from school into the access industry in the mid-1960s.
Taken on by Acrow, he did a mechanical engineering degree at what was then North East London Polytechnic ? now the University of East London ? on day and block release.
Completing his studies in the early 1970s, he was despatched to set up an Acrow garrison in Argentina.
After two years he returned to the UK, but 12 months later was despatched first to Australia and then to New Zealand on a six-year expedition that ended up in the Middle East.
After three years in Cairo, he returned to the UK and a job with SGB in 1985.
Explaining his reasons for defecting, Mr Barrett says: 'They were looking for people. I had responsibilities in the UK but very quickly became involved overseas and that's been my responsibilities since that time, when we've developed SGB and its sister companies.' In 1991, he was promoted to managing director of SGB International, where he helped develop SGB's overseas subsidiaries, whose number now stands at 17, accounting for half of the firm's turnover. He moved up to his present post as group operations director in 2000.