Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Women in the Chair ....

Helen Alexander UBM
Helen Alexander UBM
The four women in the chair of FTSE 350 boards are an impressively select group leading just 1.14% of companies in the 350 index.  Together they are leading the way in increasing the representation of women on British boards.

The group - Dame Helen Alexander UBM, Anita Frew Victrex, Colette Bowe Electra Private Equity and Alison Carnwarth Land Securities - have dizzying portfolios in which they combine not only multiple directorships but also a wide range of trusteeships on university, cultural and charity boards.  Anita Frew, for example, has been on the board of the Donmar and Gate Theatres and Helen Alexander is Chancellor of Southampton University and both combine all of this with being mothers.

Colette Bowe
Colette Bowe
The group's portfolios undoubtedly demonstrate phenomenal networking powers but these women also share real longevity of service and, for want of a better word, "stickability" in certain areas of their careers - they are not just "business butterflies" who have flitted from one non-exec role to another.  Helen Alexander joined the Economist Group in 1985 and was CEO of the group for 11 years until she became Vice President of the CBI.  Colette Bowe was a civil servant at the DTI for over 12 years.  Anita Frew has served on the Victrex board for over 10 years and Alison Carnwarth - who is the only woman Chair of a FTSE 100 company - on the Land Securities board for over 8 years.

Alison Carnwarth
Alison Carnwarth
Interestingly, the four have combined this "stickability" with the confidence to make some very big and critical career changes.  Colette Bowe's was perhaps the most dramatic, leaving the civil service after becoming caught up in the scandal of the Westland Affair to work in the city as first as a regulator as CEO of the Personal Investment Authority and then Executive Chair of Robert Fleming Asset Management. Anita Frew had risen to the top of the financial sector as Head of Investment at Scottish Provident before joining the marketing group WPP as Director of Corporate Development.  As Colette Bowe has made clear such shifts are by no means easy - in her case in the full glare of the media, anything but  "At the time it felt awful. Some things can be so awful they seem unreal." (Guardian 2011) - but senior achievement in very different sectors has added to their authority as Chairs.

Anita FrewSuch impressive role models in their own right, these women are now also leading the way in promoting women to boards with the four boards they chair having much better than average representation of women with three of the four over the 30% target set by campaigning groups and the fourth Land Securities only just shy of this target at 28.5%:

  • Electra                3 of 6 directors    50%
  • Victrex                2 of 5 directors    40%
  • UBM                   2 of 6 directors    33%
  • Land Securities    2 of 7 directors    28.5%

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

In their own words ... the women at the top of British business

I am fascinated by the backgrounds of women at the top of business and how they live their lives but also by how they present themselves.  What do they sound like? What are their mannerisms? How do they interact with different people? Do they have styles and mannerisms in common or as discussed in a previous blog is their individual authenticity key to their authority and charisma?

As part of this exploration I have been collecting video links of some of the women CEOs and Chairs of FTSE 350 businesses and have shared a selection below that I will continue to update ...

Laura Wade-Gery, 
E-commerce Director Marks and Spencer
Laura Wade Gery
Born: 1962
Education: Oxford University
Career: Investment banker at Kleinwort Benson, consultant at Gemini Consulting, CEO and Tesco Direct. Director at Royal Opera House.  Previously non-exec at Trinity Mirror.  Reportedly insisted on a board position at Marks & Spencer when poached from Tesco.
Personal: As a student travelled from Palestine to China in a journey written up by her companion William Darymple in "Xanadu"

Anne Richards, 
Chief Investment Officer, Aberdeen Asset Management
Education: University of Edinburgh - Electonics & Electrical Engineering, INSEAD MBA
Career: Research fellow at CERN.  Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director Edinburgh Fund Managers.  Chief Investment Officer Aberdeen Asset Management.  Non-exec director Scottish Chamber Orchestra

Alison Cooper, CEO Imperial Tobacco 
Alison Cooper Imperial Tobacco

Born:  1967
Educated:  Tiffin Girls School, Bristol University
Career: Qualified Accountant PricewaterhouseCoopers, Finance Director, COO and CEO Imperial Tobacco, Non-exec Inchcape 
Personal Life:  Married with 2 daughters

Dido Harding, CEO Talk Talk
Dido Harding
My Bottom Line, BBC Mar 2012

Born: 1964
Educated: BA PPE Oxford, MBA Harvard Business School
Career: McKinsey, Marketing Director Thomas Cook, Commercial Director Woolworths, Commercial Director Tesco, Convenience Director Sainsbury
Personal Life: Married to John Penrose MP, 2 children
Other: Horse lover and former jockey, grand daughter of Field Marshall John Harding

Harriet Green, CEO Thomas Cook
Harriet Green
My Bottom Line, BBC Jun 2012

Born: 1962
Educated: BA Medieval History King's College London, MSc Business Psychology London School of Economics
Career: Arrow Electronics, CEO Premier Farnell, Group CEO Thomas Cook, Non-executive Director Emerson & BAE Systems
Personal life: Married, children
Other: Yoga devotee

Alison Carnwarth, Chair Land Securities
My Bottom Line, BBC Nov 2011

Alison Carnwarth
Born: 1953
Educated: BA German & Economics, Reading
Career: Qualified accountant, investment banker at Henry Schroder Wagg and Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette.  Portfolio non-exec director who has served on over 15 boards and is currently on boards of MAN, Zurich Insurance, PACCAR and ISIS Equity Partners.  Resigned from Barclays in 2012

Angela Ahrendts, CEO Burberry
Angela Ahrendts
Financial Times, Oct 2010

Born: 1960
Education: Merchandise & Marketing, Ball State University
Career: Donna Karan, Executive Vice President Liz Clairborne
Personal Life: Married with 3 children.
Other: Devout Methodist.  Husband works from home

Ruby McGregor-Smith, CEO MITIE
My Bottom Line
Orange National Business Awards
Ruby McGregor-Smith
Education: BSc Economics Kingston
Career: Qualified accountant, BDO Stoy Hayward, SERCO, Group Finance Director MITIE, Group Chief Operating Officer MITIE, Group CEO MITIE, Non-exec Director Michael Page International
Personal Life: Married with 2 children
Other: Took a career break to care for her youngest child

Carolyn McCall, CEO EasyJet
Carolyn McCall
Keynote Investor Relations Society 2011
Born: 1961 Bangalore, India
Education: BA History & Politics Kent, MA Politics, London
Career: CEO Guardian Newspapers, CEO Guardian Media Group. Previously non-exec Lloyds TSB, New Look, Tesco
Personal Life: Married 3 children
Other: Trained as a teacher

Dame Marjorie Scardino, CEO Pearson
Leader Power Tools 2010

Marjorie Scardino
Born: 1947 USA
Education: Baylor University, University of San Fransisco School of Law
Career: Lawyer, journalist, CEO Economist Group, Non-exec Nokia and on boards of Oxfam and MacArthur Foundation
Personal Life: Married with 3 children
Other: Founded the Pulitzer prize winning Georgia Gazette

Cynthia Carroll, CEO Anglo-American
ABNDigital 2011
Cynthia Carroll

Born: 1956, USA
Education: BSc Geology Skidmore, MSc Geology Kansas, MBA Harvard Business School
Career: Geologist Amoco, Alcan, Managing Director Aughisih Aluminia, President Alacan Bauxite, CEO Alcan's Primary Metals Group. Previously non-exec at Sara Lee and AngloGoldAshanti
Personal Life: Married with 4 children - husband works from home

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

The women holding the purse strings ...

Diedre Mahon Diageo
Diedre Mahon, Diageo
Only 13 of the Finance Directors of companies in the FTSE 350 index are women, that's just 3.7% of the total.  The number of women holding the purse strings in our largest public companies is without doubt low,  but there has been growth and in the FTSE 100 the proportion has now reached 8% and amongst companies in the 350 index led by a woman CEO this rises to 23%.

Liz Doherty Reckitt Benckiser
Liz Doherty, Reckitt Benckiser

The number of women Finance Directors is obviously significant with the FD second only to the CEO in executive authority but is also important because a large number of CEOs have previously been Finance Directors.  As discussed in a previous blog post almost 40% of the women CEOs of FTSE 350 companies had previously held financial roles.  It could be expected therefore that the next wave of women CEOs would come from those currently serving as FDs and that the women currently serving as FDs on FTSE 100 boards - Lucinda Bell, Liz Doherty, Stacey Cartwright, Jackie Hunt, Tracey Taylor, Diedre Mahon, Zaure Zaurebekova, Maeve Carton - would be particularly well placed to step in the future into CEO roles.

Stacey Cartwright Burberry
Stacey Cartwright, Burberry
The number of companies where women hold both the two leading executive roles are still incredibly small, just 3 of 350.  However, as typically the only executives on the board are the CEO and the FD the very existence of these women only board executive teams is a big breakthrough that deserves celebration.  It would be great to see more images of these teams - Angela Ahrendts and Stacey Cartwright at Burberry, Dido Harding and Amy Stirling at Talk, Talk and Ruby McGregor-Smith and Suzanne Baxter at MITIE - within the general press and women's media.  The impact of an image of one woman "in a man's world" is very different from that of a team of women leading one of our largest listed companies.

Lucinda Bell British Land
Lucinda Bell, British Land
The overall level of women FDs within the FTSE 350 may seem disheartening but the role of FD arguably provides one of the best opportunities for women to take on executive board roles and to step up into CEO roles.  One of the barriers to women taking on executive roles is our concentration in the "soft" sectors of HR and marketing and lack of experience therefore of major P&L responsibility.  However, women now represent over 50% of entrants into accountancy and it is arguably a profession which offers working mothers more flexibility at  than other operational roles at key times in their careers.

Jackie Hunt Standard Life
Jackie Hunt,
Standard Life
We should expect to see more and more women becoming FDs in our largest companies and I would go further and argue that is worth focusing efforts to increase women's representation on boards on this role through improved mentoring and much greater celebration of those women who are already "counting the beans" at our top board tables as the role of Financial Director provides perhaps the best opportunity to the largest number of women to take on executive authority on British boards.

Amy Stirling Talk Talk
Amy Stirling,

Maeve Carton
Maeve Carton, CR
Julia Wilson 3i
Julia Wilson, 3i

Barbara Richmond Redrow
Barbara Richmond,

Suzanne Baxter, MITIE

Janne Brown Cairn Energy
Janne Brown, Cairn Energy

Monday, 13 August 2012

Two fold triumph ... the black women on FTSE boards ... but where are the Brits?

There are 8 outstanding black women on the boards of FTSE 350 companies but unfortunately there are no Britains among them with 7 of the 8 African and one American.   The group are all non-executive directors on the FTSE boards but the majority have served as CEOs on South African or American companies.

Ngozi Edozien

Ngozi Edozien

PZ Cussons

Born in Nigeria, Ngozi graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard and was an investment banker with Solomon Brothers and JPMorgan in New York before returning to Harvard Business School for an MBA.  After 7 years with McKinsey in London and Paris she joined Pfizer in 1999 in New York as VP for Strategic Planning and Business Development.  After moving with Pfizer to Lagos in 2004, she was Managing Director of Pfizer Nigeria from 2005 - 2008.  In 2009 she joined Actis the private equity specialist in emerging markets as CEO Actis West Africa.  She was appointed to the FTSE listed PZ Cussons board in 2012.

Mamphela Ramphele

Mamphela Ramphele


Born in South Africa in 1950 Mamphela Ramphele qualified as a medical doctor before studying for a PhD in Social Anthropology.  She was appointed a research fellow at the University of Cape Town in 1986 and was appointed Vice Chancellor in 1996.  In 2000 she was appointed as a Managing Director at the World Bank and has since occupied a range of non-executive positions in South Africa including Medclinic, Remgro and Veolia and Gold Fields Limited where she was appointed Chair in 2010.  She had 2 children, 1 of whom died as a baby, from her relationship with the anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko.  She was appointed to the FTSE listed Anglo-American in 2006 as a non-executive director.

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita

Nonkululeko Nyembezi-Heita 

Old Mutual

Born in 1960 Nonkululeko is currently CEO of Arcelor Mittal, (the global steel and mining company), in South Africa.  She started her career as an engineer with IBM in the USA before taking on commercial roles at Alliance Capital Management and Vodacom where she was Head of Alliance and Mergers.  She has an MBA in addition to a BSc from Manchester University and an MSc from California Institute of Technology.  She is married with 2 children.  She was appointed a non-executive at Old Mutual in 2012.

Cheryl Carolus

Cheryl Carolus


Born in 1958, South African politician Cheryl Carolus was appointed as South African High Commissioner to the UK in 1998.  Subsequently she was CEO of the South African Tourist Board and has been Chair of South African National Parks, South African Airways and the investment company Petona Holdings.   She has been a non-executive director of the FTSE listed Investec since 2005.

Ann Marie Fudge

Ann Marie Fudge


Born in 1951 Ann Marie Fudge had senior roles at General Mills and General Foods in the USA before serving as CEO and Chair of the marketing agency Young and Rubicam between 2003 and 2006.  She has an MBA from Harvard Business School.  She has served as a non-executive director of Novartis Infosys, General Electric, Honeywell and Marriott Hotels and as an advisor to the Gate's Foundation and President Obama's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.  She has two sons and took time out from her career before being appointed CEO at Young and Rubicam.  She was appointed to the Unilever board in 2009.

Imogen Mkhize

Imogen Mkhize


Born in South Africa in 1963, Imogen Mkhize has a computer science degree from Rhodes University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.  She started her career as a business analyst and programmer with Anglo American in 1986 and spent 3 years at the technology consulting company Accenture.  She was Managing Director of Lucent Technologies in South Africa and between 2003 and 2006 CEO of the World Petroleum Congress. She is currently Chair of of Richards Bay Coal Terminal and non-executive Director of energy group Sasol and of Mobile Telephone Networks Pty.  She was appointed to the board of Mondi the paper and packing group as a non-executive director in 2007.

Dambisa Noyo

Dambisa Noyo


Dambisa Noyo was born in Zambia and has a Masters degree from Harvard and a doctorate in Economics from Oxford.  She worked at the World Bank and as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs.  She came to wider prominence in 2009 with her best-selling critique of AID to the developing world, “Dead Aid”, which was followed by “How the West Was Lost” and “Winner Takes All: China’s Race for Resources”.  She joined the Barclays board in 2010 and has also served on the boards at SAB Miller, Barrick Gold and Lundin Petroleum.

* There is a extended profile of Dambisa in the post

Hixonia Nyasulu
Hixonia Nyasulu


Born in South Africa in 1954 Hixonia started her career at Unilever in 1978 where she worked for 6 years before founding her own marketing and research company.  In 2004 she founded Ayavuna Women's Investments a specialist investment vehicle which is controlled women.  She has been a non-executive director since 1992 of companies including advertising agency Paton Tupper Associates, the agri-processing business Tongaat-Hulett, JP Morgan in South Africa and the South African based conglomerate Barloworld.  She is currently Chair of the South African chemical company Sasol.  She was appointed as a non-executive director on the Unilever board in 2007.  She is married with three sons.