Jeremy Hardie has split his life between business, public service including politics, and academia. He was a fellow and tutor in Economics at Keble College Oxford until 1975, when he left academic life for business. He served as a director of a wide variety of companies between 1970 and 1999, including John Swire and Sons, WH Smith (where he became chairman) and the pension funds of IBM UK and Unilever. He is a chartered accountant.
Until 2007 he was chair of the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust, and earlier served on the Arts Council and the Monopolies Commission. He stepped down as treasurer of the IPPR in 2008. Since 1999, he has been a research associate of the Centre for Philosophy and Social Sciences at LSE. He is a fellow of King's College London, a Vice President of the Royal Economic Society, and in the 1980s chaired the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He stood for parliament in Norwich South in 1983 and 1987 for the SDP, and then became a member of the Labour Party.
He now chairs Brasserie Blanc plc, having previously chaired Loch Fyne Restaurants. He is a trustee of Somerset House.