CBI names Carolyn Fairbairn as its new director-general
A former director of strategy at both the BBC and ITV, Fairbairn will take the helm later this year and will succeed John Cridland who has led the organisation since January 2011.
Fairbairn 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.
From 1995 to 1997, she was a member of Number 10’s Policy Unit, advising on health and social services. She joined the BBC in 1997 and was responsible for strategic planning for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide, before going on to lead the BBC’s digital growth strategy, including the launch of Freeview.
In 2006, Fairbairn became a partner at McKinsey & Company where she was one of the leaders of its UK media practice and went on to become director of group development and strategy at ITV.
Between 2008 and 2011, she was a non-executive director of the Financial Services Authority following the collapse of Northern Rock and was involved in overhauling its regulatory processes and restructuring it into two new regulators, the Prudential Regulation Authority and Financial Conduct Authority.
Fairbairn currently holds a number of non-executive positions which she will step down from when she joins the CBI. These include roles with global outsourcer Capita, small cap manufacturer Vitec, Lloyds Banking Group, the Competition and Markets Authority and the UK Statistics Authority.
The CBI said the recruitment process was led by current CBI president Sir Mike Rake. Fairbairn was selected by a committee of the CBI board from a list of 46 candidates and a final shortlist of six before being endorsed by the CBI’s chairmen’s committee.
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.
“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.”
Fairbairn added: “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.”
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