Dame Helen Alexander dies aged 60

Caitlin Morrison
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Dame Helen Alexander was CBI president between 2009 and 2011 (Source: CBI)

Dame Helen Alexander has died aged 60, after a battle with cancer.

The former president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and ex-chief executive of the Economist Group passed away on 5 August. She is survived by her husband and three children.

CBI president Paul Drechsler said: "Dame Helen was a brilliant leader who was admired by everyone she worked with and widely respected throughout the worlds of business and politics. She was the first female CBI president, passionate in her support of British business and determined in making the case for diversity.

"More than that, people will remember Helen for being a great listener with a thoughtful sense of humour. She will be greatly missed by me and by everyone who knew her, both in the UK and beyond. My thoughts and the thoughts of those past and present at the CBI will be with her family at this very sad time."

The Economist said in a tribute: "Business had no better ambassador. She was self-effacing but a world-class networker."

It was this "winning combination... along with her intelligence and charm", the publication said, that helps to explain why all sorts of firms flocked to have her on their board, from Northern Foods to Centrica, Rolls-Royce and the British arm of Huawei, to advise them (Bain Capital) or to chair them (the Port of London Authority and, more recently, UBM, an events business).

Alexander had recently helped lead a review of gender diversity on company boards.

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