Gordon Cairns is a Celt, born in Bridge of Allan, Scotland. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, where he graduated with an M.A. honours degree.
He started his career with Nestle, followed by Cadbury, the Imperial Group, and Pepsi Co, where he worked for 10 years in three continents, in Marketing, Operations and Finance. He joined Lion Nathan, initially as the M.D. of their Australian beer business, and thence for seven years as C.E.O. During that period, the company was consistently recognised as a best employer, and he was awarded a “True Leaders” award on three separate occasions.
In September 2004, he stepped down from full time executive life, and now serves as Chairman of Origin Energy and Woolworths, as a non-executive director of Macquarie Group Limited, Quick Service Restaurants and World Education (a microfinance provider). Previously he was a non- executive director of Westpac Bank for nine years, and chair of David Jones.
He is married to Jane, and they have two children, Debbie and Neil.