Educated at Friends School Lisburn and holding a BA in Public Administration from the University of Ulster at Jordanstown, Keith joined the Civil Service in 1987, spending his early career in Police Authority and the Department of the Environment. He joined the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in 1998, working as private secretary to the Agriculture Minister and later on rural development issues.
From 2000-2006 Keith worked in Brussels on secondment to the UK Representation to the EU where he dealt with various agriculture and fisheries negotiations and legislation, including as a member of the UK Presidency team in 2005.
Before joining HSENI, Keith was the Director of Food, Farm and Rural Policy in DARD and his responsibilities included development of an Executive-wide strategy to address the needs of rural communities, management of the seven year £500million EU Rural Development Programme and leading DARD’s rural anti poverty and social inclusion policy work.
In addition, Keith had responsibility for DARD’s food and farm policy teams which cover the full range of primary production and food industry development issues, including the development of a new agri-food strategy for Northern Ireland.
Keith took up the role of Chief Executive on 4 February 2013.