Stephen has spent his career in the Irish civil service, joining the Irish Department of Defence in 1973 and working in various branches, including personnel, contracts and property management. He spent ten years in the Department of the Taoiseach (Prime Minister). From 2004 to his retirement in 2007, he worked as assistant secretary to the President of Ireland. He has a B.A.(Mod) and an M. Litt. In philosophy, and a Ph.D. in public administration, from Trinity College, Dublin. He joined the Irish Advisory Committee of Breadline Africa in 2015 and has been on the International Board since 2016.