Business icon Dame Helen Alexander dies aged 60

Dame Helen Alexander
The First female president of the Confederation of British Industry, Dame Helen Alexander,  has died aged 60. 

Dame Helen, who had been battling cancer for several years, was married and had three children.

The Economist Group, of whom Alexander was chief executive from 1997-2008, described her as “self-effacing but a world-class networker”.

Her long and successful business career included boardroom roles at Rolls-Royce and Centrica, making her a trailblazer for women in business.

Alexander started her career in publishing with Faber & Faber, before moving to the Economist Group in 1985.

She then became the first female president of the CBI, and then, along with Sir Philip Hampton, undertook the independent Hampton Alexander review, which aimed to increase female representation in senior business roles.

Among these roles, the Oxford-educated Alexander was also a non-executive director of PA Group, and at BT Group and Huawei UK.

In a statement announcing her death, The Economist said:

“Her success owed much to a leadership style that lacked fireworks and did not seek fame, but deserved more recognition, for both its humanity and effectiveness,” the newspaper said in an article on its website.

“Helen relied on a quiet wisdom: listening not lecturing. No name was ever forgotten, no thoughtful personal gesture was too small.”

The CBI’s current President, Paul Drechsler added: “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.”

The Economist saw circulation surge nearly 50 per cent and profits rise by 75 per cent under Dame Helen.

In 2004, she was awarded a CBE for services to publishing, and later received a DBE for services to business in 2011.

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