Mr Sanderson, 60, who is also chair of Sunderland football club's company, and vice-chairman of the court of governors of the London School of Economics, will take up the two-day-a-week job on October 1. He will be paid pound;40,000 a year, a considerable drop from his current pound;1.6 million. He leaves BP Amoco at the end of the year.
When asked what he knew about further education he said: "Not much. But I have a list of people to speak to in FE. I have to get away from London and talk to people around the country.
"A priority will be to approach the cultural change that is needed, to foster the belief that learning is for life."
He said he was carrying on his own learning, currently improving his information technology skills among others.
"I have to learn every day. For example, I am n a company law group. I am not a lawyer so I have to learn about the law."
Mr Sanderson is known to be a firm supporter of Prime Minister Tony Blair and is helping to refine the Government's competition policy as a member of a DTI advisory group.
He thinks it is very important that 40 per cent of the places on the 47 local learning and skills councils will go to business people. "We want to motivate and get the right sort of business people. We need people on these LSCs to represent the new economy.
"We need people who understand how to manage transition and change."
In his (limited) spare time, apart from watching football, he reads history and literature - currently a book on Queen Victoria's daughters. He was educated at Dame Allan's school in Newcastle upon Tyne and at the LSE.
And should Sunderland's Kevin Phillips start as a striker for England? "I don't think you should ask me that but we are all praying for him. He did score 30 goals last season."