Stephen began his career in bookselling before moving into publishing where he initially worked in marketing and sales. In 1994 Stephen joined Fourth Estate, becoming its Managing Director in 2000. In 2001 he moved to Faber and Faber as Chief Executive and the positive impact of the changes he made was recognized by the industry in 2006 when the company was named Publisher of the Year. Stephen is also an active member of some of the important publishing trade bodies including the Publishers Association.
Stephen is also active in promoting the importance of libraries and non-corporate publishing. He is a founding member of Reading Partners - a dynamic alliance of 40 publishers and the entire UK public library network, set up in 2004 and led by The Reading Agency.
In 2005 he was instrumental in founding the innovative Independent Alliance, made up of ten of the most exciting independent publishing companies in the UK.
In 2007 the Guardian chose Stephen to give the keynote address for World Book Day and he is frequently asked to speak or write on issues facing the publishing industry, especially the ways in which technological developments may affect authors and publishing in the future. In 2007 he received the Vista Award for Industry Achievement.
In autumn 2011 he joined the board of Creative Skillset, the industry body which supports skills and training for the UK creative industries.