CBI names first female director-general

Carolyn Fairbairn
Carolyn Fairbairn

The CBI today announced that Carolyn Fairbairn is to become its new Director-General.

She will take the helm at the UK’s biggest business group later this year when she will be the first woman to hold the role.

An experienced business leader and former Director of Strategy at both the BBC and ITV, Carolyn currently holds a number of non-executive positions.

These include with global outsourcer Capita, small cap manufacturer Vitec, Lloyds Banking Group, the Competition and Markets Authority and the UK Statistics Authority.

Ms Fairbairn has enjoyed a varied career spanning strategy, economics, policy making, management consultancy and journalism. She plans to step down from all her current non-executive directorships when she takes up her role at the CBI, apart from remaining a trustee of the charity Marie Curie. She will take over from John Cridland, who has led the CBI since January 2011, in November.

The recruitment process for the new Director-General was led by current CBI President Sir Mike Rake and conducted by executive search firm Odgers Berndtson.

Carolyn was selected by a committee of the CBI Board from a long list of 46 candidates and a final shortlist of six before being endorsed by the CBI’s Chairmen’s Committee.

She will work closely with CBI President-Designate Paul Drechsler in ensuring the interests of British businesses of all sizes across the UK are represented in Whitehall, Brussels and internationally.

Commenting the appointment, CBI President Sir Mike Rake said: “Carolyn is a remarkable business leader with an impressive background as an economist, journalist, management consultant and policy strategist. This includes being a member of the Prime Minister’s Downing Street Policy Unit and holding senior roles at the BBC and ITV.

“Carolyn’s CV speaks for itself. Her wealth and breadth of experience will be critical in steering the CBI through choppy political and economic waters, including an EU referendum.

“She will take over the reins from John in November and will lead a formidable team at the CBI.”

Ms Fairbairn said: “I am delighted to be joining the CBI as Director-General. The CBI has an outstanding track record of championing the conditions that enable British businesses to flourish.

“The debate around Britain’s relationship with the European Union and the productivity challenge facing our economy will be two of the defining issues of the next few years, and I greatly look forward to representing the voice of British businesses of all sizes on these questions and many others.

“Now perhaps more than ever, thriving British companies hold the key to the future prosperity of our country.”

Carolyn, 54, began her career as an economist at the World Bank, before joining the Economist magazine as a journalist and then spending six years as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company.

Share icon
Share this article: