Ian has degrees in Ecology and Marine Zoology. After a period in The Scottish Office (now Scottish Government) he joined the Nature Conservancy Council for Scotland in 1991 as Regional Director and continued in this role after the creation of Scottish Natural Heritage in 1992. He was appointed Chief Executive of SNH in 2002 and fulfilled this role until 2017, with a period of secondment to the European Commission Environment Directorate 2015-16. From 2017-2019 he was environmental policy adviser to the Scottish Government. He is a Trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.