We pay tribute to former Centrica board member Dame Helen Alexander who died over the weekend following her long battle with cancer.
Dame Helen began her career in publishing at Faber & Faber, before moving to the Economist Group in 1985. She became Managing Director in 1993 and CEO in 1997 where, over the next decade, she saw sales surge against trends driven by the growing internet.
Dame Helen was the first female president of the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) from 2009 – 2011, the time immediately following the financial crisis. Her career also included boardroom roles at Rolls-Royce, BT and Northern Foods alongside not-for profit organisations and educational bodies such as the Said Business School (Oxford) and University of Southampton. She was also co-chair of the Hampton-Alexander review - a government commissioned review into increasing the number of women in senior business roles.
From 2003 – 2011, Dame Helen was a Non-Executive Director on the Centrica Board and Chair of the Centrica Remuneration Committee from 2005 until 2011.
Dame Helen was awarded many accolades during her career including a CBE for services to publishing in 2004, a DBE for services to business in 2011 and the Legion d’Honneur in 2015 for services to Franco-British business.
Dame Helen is hailed by those who knew her as a great leader of calm wisdom and a trailblazer for women in business.
On hearing the news, Iain Conn said, ‘Over the last few decades, Helen has played a huge role in British business. I worked closely with her when we were both Non-Executive Directors at Rolls-Royce. As a champion of diversity and inclusion, she has been at the forefront of the representation of women in senior business roles. I feel privileged that she was also part of our story here at Centrica. Our thoughts go out to Helen’s husband Tim and their family.’