Successful senior female role models in business are rare, so the sad fact that Dame Helen Alexander, the first female president of the CBI, has died at the tragically young age of 60 should not pass without us paying tribute to her.
Dame Helen never sought the bright lights of stardom, but she was renowned throughout the industry for her great ability to listen, her world class networking skills and her intelligent sense of humour. She was a brilliant, but unassuming leader, who modelled humanity, humility and the personal touch.
The list of her groundbreaking achievements is endless. She had an MA from Oxford and an MBA from INSEAD. She was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in 2016 for her leading role in the Franco-British Symposium, which annually brings together French and British decision-makers and she was also a trustee of the Grand Palais in Paris.
Dame Helen began her career in publishing at Faber & Faber, before moving to the Economist Group where she became managing director. She received a CBE for services to publishing and a DBE for services to business as she was on the board of Rolls-Royce, BT, Centrica and Northern Foods.
She was a pioneer for women in business and she has left an indelible mark.