Robert Devereux studied Mathematics in St John’s from 1975 to 1978, with David Stirzaker and Brian Davies as his tutors. He then did a taught Masters course at Edinburgh University, not in mathematics. He joined the Civil Service in 1979, and he has stayed there apart from a short period on secondment. He had positions in International Development, Treasury and Social Security, before becoming Permanent Secretary for the Department for Transport in 2007. He became Permanent Secretary for the Department for Work and Pensions on 1 January 2011, and he still holds that post.
Devereux was knighted in the 2016 New Year’s Honours list for services to transport and welfare and for voluntary services in Kilburn (youth worker, school governorships, and other charities).