South African-born Whittaker studied music at conservatoires in South Africa, the Netherlands and Czechia, where he was a student of the renowned conductor Vladimír Válek. He has more than 20 years of experience in specialist creative higher education, leading significant organisational change and transformation projects. He worked closely with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education to advance leadership in specialist institutions and has held positions at specialist institutions in South Africa, the Netherlands and the UK. He is known for his work on representation and frequently writes and presents on the topic.
Whittaker is a serving member of the AdvanceHE Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. He has made a contribution to the activities of several specialist institutions acting in an external or non-executive director capacity; these have recently included the Utrecht School of the Arts, the Northern School of Contemporary Dance, Christies Education and BIMM Institute.
Previous to his role at Rose Bruford College, Whittaker was Pro-Vice-Chancellor Academic at Leeds Arts University with responsibility for research, postgraduate development and internationalisation.