Lobban graduated from Leeds University with a BA in French and completed the Higher Command and Staff course at the Ministry of Defence's staff college at Shrivenham. He joined GCHQ in 1983, progressing through a variety of roles before joining the GCHQ board in 2001. Whilst on the board he was responsible for moving the operations of GCHQ into its new base at Benhall, Gloucestershire. Prior to being appointed director, Lobban was director-general (Operations); having taken up this post in early 2004. He became director in July 2008. He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) in the New Year Honours 2006 for services to national security in the United Kingdom.
Life After GCHQ
Having departed GCHQ, 2015 saw Mr Lobban take on a host of new advisory and consultant based roles, including:
- visiting Professor at King's College, London on an unpaid basis.
- an unpaid appointment to become an 'Honorary Fellow' at Cambridge University
- an independent consultancy offering strategic advice on risk in the realm of cyber security, taking on commissions with Holdingham Groups and Palo Alto Networks
- chairman of the advisory board to Cyber London Accelerator(Cylon), starting in July 2015
- a member of the Board of Advisors for the Cambridge Security Initiative (CSi)
- an unpaid position as a Senior Associate Fellow for RUSI
- member of the advisory council for private equity firm C5, in which he would advise on strategy and innovative technologies
- advisor to Standard Chartered Bank
- independent advisory panel member to Government of Australia, offering his expertise on the country's cyber policies 
- Over March and April of 2016, Lobban's consultancy took on 3 new commissions with Worldpay, SQR Systems and Wynyard Group. 
Bank crime investigator
- Jonathan Owen, Spy chief Iain Lobban may testify in bullying case, The Independent, 11 September 2012.
- Ewan MacAskill, GCHQ head Sir Iain Lobban stands down, the guardian.com, 28 January 2014. Cite error: Invalid
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- Iain Lobban becomes Director of GCHQ, University of Warwick, accessed 17 June 2013.
- Gov.UK Business Appointments Applications: Sir Iain Lobban 17 September 2015, accessed 23 September 2015
- Summary of Business Appointments, Sir Iain Lobban, Gov.uk, accessed 6 April 2016
- Jill Treanor, Standard Chartered appoints former GCHQ chief to fight crime, theguardian.com, 22 April 2015.