One of the UK’s most senior female business figures has passed away.
Dame Helen Alexander, who oversaw the growth of The Economist as its group CEO between 1997 and 2008, died on 5 August following a long battle with cancer.
She served for the past four years as chairman of United Business Media, which announced her passing with “deep sadness” and “an immense gratitude for her life”.
The Economist stated: “Business had no better ambassador. She was self-effacing but a world-class networker—a winning combination that helps to explain, along with her intelligence and charm, why all sorts of firms flocked to have her on their board…”
She became the first president of the CBI in 2009, and was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in November 2015 for her efforts in Franco-British relations and in business.
Dame Helen also led a review alongside Sir Philip Hampton into increasing the number of women in senior positions in FTSE350 companies.
She served on the boards of Rolls-Royce, Centrica and the UK arm of Huawei, among others. Dame Helen was also a member of PwC’s public interest body, chancellor of the University of Southampton, and a former chairman of Incisive Media.
UBM acting chairman Greg Lock said: “In an extraordinarily successful and diverse career, Dame Helen has been a leading figure in the international business, media and education communities as well as being at the forefront of the rightful promotion of the skills and capabilities of women in business.
“All this and more she achieved with a gentle humility and fundamental kindness.”