Britain’s leading business lobby group, the CBI, announced today the appointment of its first female director general — economist and former media executive Carolyn Fairbairn.
In a statement, the 54-year-old identified the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, which Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to hold by 2017, as one of the key challenges of her new role.
“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,” she said.
Fairbairn began her career at the World Bank, worked as a journalist and as a management consultant and then partner at McKinsey and Company, and is a former director of strategy at both the BBC and ITV broadcasters.
She was a non-executive director at the now defunct Financial Services Authority regulator during the financial crisis, and currently holds similar positions at Lloyds Banking Group and global outsourcing firm Capita.
She will give these up when she takes over from current CBI director general John Cridland in November.
The CBI, formerly the Confederation of British Industry, claims to speak on behalf of 190,000 businesses employing nearly seven million people.