He served with the Royal Marines before pursuing a career in local government administration, where he was also an active trade union representative with UNISON. He is a graduate of Dundee University and studied at the University of Prince Edward Island.
Mr Brown has been a Member of the Scottish Parliament since 2007 and is currently the constituency MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane. Before his election he served for 11 years as a councillor in Clackmannanshire, and held the post of Council Leader from 1999 to 2003.
He became Minister for Skills and Lifelong Learning in February 2009 and has since held a number of ministerial roles before becoming Minister for Transport and Veterans in September 2012 and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities in November 2014. He was was appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Economy, Jobs and Fair Work in May 2016.