Sir Roderic is a former British diplomat with a special interest in Russian affairs, which began in boyhood. He studied History at Leeds University before joining the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1970.
His earlier career included postings to the Soviet Union, Senegal and the UK Mission to the United Nations in New York, as well as in the Soviet and Rhodesian departments of the Foreign Office and as Assistant Private Secretary to Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington.

From 1986-87 he was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. In his later career, Sir Roderic was the foreign affairs adviser to the Prime Minister from 1993 to 1996, Ambassador to the international organisations in Geneva from 1997 to 2000, and ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2000 to 2004, coinciding with the first four years of Vladimir Putin's first presidency.
Since his retirement from the FCO, he served on the Chilcot inquiry panel into the invasion of Iraq, where he was regarded as a tough inquisitor.

Sir Roderic continued his association with Chatham House where he was vice-chairman of Chatham House and contributed to their publication, The Russian Challenge, 2015. 

Other Russian associations have included the Task Force of the Trilateral Commission on Russia, and until the invasion of Ukraine, the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce.