Contact John Downer


John has a BSc and MSc from the University of East Anglia and used his learning to launch and forge 15 years consulting and advisory career in the waste and resource management sector.

After a research post with Ceres Environment, John switched to interdisciplinary consultancy, working at the professional services firm Jacobs from 2003, where he led on policy and strategy through to the mega-deal contracting and procurement under the private finance initiative (PFI) to handle household and commercial solid waste; gaining national reputation and trusted advisor status to local authority CEOs, elected members, financiers and contractors.

In 2014, John joined Jacobs' Growth and Sales team full-time, winning contracts and leading key account relationships to grow the business year-on-year. He worked extensively with Network Rail, High Speed Two (HS2), Department for Transport, Transport for London, and East West Rail. Ultimately as the Rail Market Director for the European Business, he led all strategic sales and an ecosystem of key account managers.

In 2022, John switched back to operations, as the Head of Operations leading Jacobs' $500m revenue European Transportation business. Then in 2023, in his final role at Jacobs, John moved back to Growth and Sales as Growth Diretor for Transportation Europe, with accountability for growth across all of the rail, aviation and highways clients. He directed the key account management and executive C-Suite relationships across 12 key clients, and drove strategic growth aligned to his net zero mandate.

John is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Wastes Management, volunteering extensively within the institution and is a Board member and Company Director of the Railway Industry Association, alongside which he has been an active Board member and Company Director of the High Speed Rail Group since 2017.

During 2018-2020 John completed his Executive MBA at Cranfield University's School of Managment. He won the Key Account Management Forum's inaugural prize for the Best Key Account Plan, and was awarded the designation of Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.

He has authored 19 papers and technical articles; the highlight being presenting four papers at the 2003 International Solid Waste Association World Congress in Melbourne.

John has chaired and presented at international and international conferences, and all manner of round tables, Parlimentary dinners and industry events.

Research opportunities

John remains impassioned, but also commercially astute and innovative, about the climate; specifically in decarbonisation to reach net zero, environment sustainability and use of natural capital.

Current activities

In 2024, John joined Cranfield School of Management as Visiting Fellow and will be supporting the delivery of programmes with the Centre for Strategic Marketing and Sales.