Alec McTavish was born in 1948. He worked for the Government Economics Service from 1970. He held various roles across several government departments including the Departments of Environment, Transport, and Industry. From 1981 to 1983 he was seconded from the Civil Service to the British Rail Policy Unit and subsequently joined British Rail. He served as Planning and Strategy Manager Provincial, then Head of British Rail Business Systems from 1984 to 1994. He was then appointed as the Director of Operations for the Association of Train Operating Companies, serving in this role from 1994 to 2013.