Tribute to Lord Marshall, former Chair of Birkbeck's Governors

It is with much sadness that Birkbeck announces the passing of Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge

It is with much sadness that Birkbeck announces the passing of Lord Marshall of Knightsbridge. Lord Marshall was Birkbeck’s Chair of Governors from 2003-2010 and a Fellow of the College.

Professor David Latchman, Master of Birkbeck, said: “Lord Marshall was a great friend and supporter of Birkbeck, and his extensive business experience and passion for London were invaluable to Birkbeck’s success during a momentous period in higher education.”

Among his business achievements, Lord Marshall led British Airways from 1983-2004, first as CEO and later as Chairman, and he was President of the CBI from 1996-1998.

Colin Marsh Marshall was born on 16 November 1933 in London. He was educated at University College School in Hampstead, London, and left school at 16.

Business career

Lord Marshall's international business career began in 1951, when he joined the Orient Steam Navigation Company, and went on to incorporate vehicle rental and leasing for 23 years, initially with Hertz and then Avis, during which time he lived and worked in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the UK. In 1971 he was appointed Executive Vice President of Avis, becoming President and Chief Executive in 1976. When Avis was taken over in 1979, he was appointed Executive Vice President of Norton Simon Inc., and Co-Chairman of Avis.

In 1983, Lord Marshall became CEO of British Airways, a company he was to remain with for many years, later becoming Chairman and Chief Executive and, from 1996, non-executive Chairman. He was instrumental in the reform of the company prior to its privatisation in 1987. He retired from the role of Chairman in 2004.

Lord Marshall was President of the Confederation of British Industry between 1996 and 1998. He also chaired the CBI International Advisory Board. He was also Vice-President of the Advertising Association, a Member of the British American Business Council International Advisory Board, a Council Member of the Institute of Directors, and President of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council.

In 1998, he was created a Life Peer as Baron Marshall of Knightsbridge in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, having been made a Knight Bachelor in 1987.

From 1998, Lord Marshall held Chairman roles at Invensys Plc, Inchape Plc, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), the Board of Trustees of The Conference Board, the Board of HSBC Holdings, Pirelli UK and Nomura International PLC Between 2005 and 2007, he was also Chairman of national tourism agency VisitBritain.

Committed to London

Lord Marshall was committed to his home city of London all his life. As well as being one of the founders of the London First organisation, the influential business membership organisation seeking to make London the best city in the world in which to do business, he was also the inaugural chairman of London First Centre, the capital’s inward investment agency.

He helped to create and then chaired the London Development Partnership, the prototype body for the new London Development Agency, which brought business, local government, trade unions, higher education, training organisations and the voluntary sector together in a coalition for economic development.