The Master

The Master for 2020/2021, the 454th recorded, is Oliver Kirby-Johnson.

The Master oversees the Company’s activities, as well as representing us at a variety of charity, trade, ceremonial and social events. He or she is usually a long-serving Tallow Chandler.

Each Master serves for one year. The Master’s election has to take place on or within twenty days of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, reflecting our ancient links with the Brotherhood of St John. We usually hold the election on the first Tuesday in July.

This year’s Master, Oliver Kirby-Johnson, who lives in Wiltshire, is married to Frances and has one son, Nick, who works for a bank in London.

Together with his brother, Julian, Oliver joined the Tallow Chandlers as a Freeman in the 1990s, joining their father Past Assistant Derek Kirby-Johnson in the Company.

Oliver was educated at The King’s School, Canterbury and University College London, and joined Logica, as a programmer. After working in the Middle East for three years, he returned to the UK and in the late 1980s joined the newly formed KPMG as an IT Strategy consultant.

In the 30 years since then, he has travelled widely working for a variety of global client companies, focused increasingly on managing complex programmes in the financial services sector covering regulatory compliance and payments infrastructures. More recently Oliver spent five years as the Programme Director for the new payments platform in Australia.

In younger days interests included flying and skiing, replaced by walking and sailing in more recent years, taking advantage in Sydney of the opportunity to join the volunteer crew of a restored 19th century iron hulled Barque. Frances and Oliver enjoy the outdoor exercise of hiking holidays, suitably balanced by decent food, wine and comfortable accommodation.

An active member of the Musketeers, he has offset a patchy clay record with a surprisingly clean sweep in the Sniper challenge at the inter-livery event at Bisley.

Oliver feels privileged to have been elected to take the chair as Master at a time when the Company, and the wider City, need to continue to navigate the challenges and uncertainties as the pandemic runs its course.