The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has appointed Carolyn Fairbairn as its first ever female director general.
A former head of strategy at the BBC and ITV, she will replace John Cridland, who has been at the helm of the CBI since 2011, in November.
CBI president Sir Mike Rake 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.
In the role, Fairbairn will help to determine the CBI’s perspective on the UK’s membership in the European Union ahead of the referendum.
While Cridland, along with Rake, has supported Britain staying in the EU, the pair has been criticised for ignoring the voices of smaller companies and representing the view of larger businesses.
The CBI said she was chosen from an initial pool of 46 candidates which was then cut down to a shortlist of six. While Cridland was a CBI veteran, this time the UK’s main business lobby group has opted for an outsider.
The 54 year-old’s career began as an economist at the World Bank, before becoming a journalist for the Economist and a management consultant at McKinsey & Co.
She then went on to 10 Downing Street as a policy adviser and ITV’s director of strategy, before spending seven years at the BBC.
Fairbairn is the first woman to lead the CBI, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.