Carolyn Fairbairn named as next CBI director-general

Posted on 30 Jun 2015 by Jonny Williamson

The CBI today has announced that Carolyn Fairbairn is to become its new director-general, taking over from current director-general John Cridland later this year.

Described by the president of the UK’s largest business group as a “remarkable business leader”, Fairbairn is a former director of strategy at both the BBC and ITV who 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.

To date, Fairbairn’s varied career has spanned strategy; economics; policy making; management consultancy, and journalism. She reportedly 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.

John Cridland, director general, CBI.
John Cridland, current director general, CBI.

Fairbairn will take over from John Cridland – who has led the CBI since January 2011 – in November, and was selected by current CBI [resident Sir Mike Rake and 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.

Commenting on the appointment, CBI president Sir Mike said: “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.”

Commenting on her appointment, 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.”

Paul Drechsler has been a member of the CBI Board since 2012.
Paul Drechsler has been a member of the CBI Board since 2012.

Earlier this month the CBI announced that Paul Drechsler, chairman of diversified global firm Bibby Line Group, has been nominated to succeed Sir Mike Rake as CBI president with members asked to endorse his appointment at the annual general meeting on July 13.

Commenting on Carolyn’s appointment, Paul Drechsler, CBI president-designate, said: “Carolyn’s passion for business and her dynamism shine through.

“She combines a varied and extensive business background with a wide range of non-executive experience on audit and remuneration committees across a range of sectors and bodies.

“I am delighted that the CBI’s chairmen’s committee has welcomed her appointment and look forward to working alongside Carolyn and the CBI team to continue to ensure the voice of British business – small, medium and large – is heard loud and clear.”

John Cridland, the current CBI director-general, added: In the coming months I will be working tirelessly to ensure that the priorities of CBI members for the new Government are pursued relentlessly – from pushing for an ambitious EU reform agenda to addressing the aviation capacity crunch in the South East.

“While I will be sad to leave the CBI later this year, I am delighted to pass the baton to Carolyn, who will become the eleventh director-general of an organisation that I have been proud to serve for more than 30 years.”