Chisholm is the son of the late Dr Ian Chisholm FRCP, FRCPsych and Annabelle, daughter of the second Baron Windlesham. He read History at Merton College, Oxford and obtained an MBA at INSEAD.
Chisholm served for six years in the UK’s Department of Trade & Industry and Office of Fair Trading, specialising in competition policy and the media, communications and financial services sectors. He then worked for three years for Pearson plc and the Financial Times, before spending some years working for technology companies, eCountries Inc and Ecceleration Ltd. He also founded and for a number of years ran Heritage Bulbs, a company specialising in the provision of rare and historic bulbs.
In 2007 Chisholm was appointed as a Commissioner of ComReg, becoming Chairperson in February 2010.
On 8 January 2013, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced his appointment as Chief Executive of the new Competition and Markets Authority.
In April 2013, Chisholm gave the 15th Burrell Competition Lecture, at Middle Temple Hall, entitled the “New Competition and Markets Authority: Aspirations and Challenges.” In May 2013, he addressed the Competition Section of the Law Society Annual Conference on “Delivering Choice and Growth through the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). Chisholm addressed the ESRC Centre of Competition Policy Annual Conference, University of East Anglia, on “The UK Competition and Markets Authority: a new institution to tackle a new set of challenges” in June 2013.
The Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA), which was formally launched on 1 October 2013 and became fully operational on 1 April 2014, brings together the bulk of the responsibilities of the former Office of Fair Trading (OFT) and the former Competition Commission. Chisholm, since taking up his post, has been responsible for merging these two bodies and now for streamlining their operations: thus, he promises, the CMA will revitalise “the magic of markets to drive the growth we need.”
According to Chisholm, the new organisation “can really stand up for consumers and stand up for competition . . . the difference is that we can speak with one voice now and be a more efficient agency.” The CMA, with an annual budget of £67m and a staff of 500, will “take into account how markets affect not just average members of society but also the very poorest – on who, for instance, energy bills might have a disproportionate effect.” As a sign of his commitment to champion the consumer, on the day he took up his position, Chisholm authored a “guest post” for Which? arguing that the new organisation will cooperate “to ensure that competition and markets keep working in your favour.”
Chisholm, while recognising the misgivings of some senior lawyers about the new structure, emphasises that the government’s two and a half year consultative process on the reform of the country’s competition architecture showed that there was widespread support for these changes. The need for change “reflected the view of the community”, including many within the legal profession. CMA, however, in implementing its mandate, will remain “enormously consultative and open” in its dealings with the legal profession and society more broadly.
The CMA, under Chisholm’s leadership, will begin by scrutinising the ecommerce market, looking at areas where entrants may have trouble competing with big established players; it will focus on how to make government spending more efficient; it will examine competition concerns relating to the banking sector; and, controversially, it will review the energy sector.
As of September 2015, Chisholm was paid a salary of between £190,000 and £194,999, making him one of the 328 most highly paid people in the British public sector at that time.
Chisholm is married to Eliza, daughter of the historian, Thomas Pakenham. The couple have three sons and live in London.