Dido Harding

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The Hon. Diana "Dido" Harding[1] is an English businessperson, the current Chief Executive of the TalkTalk Group.[2]


Harding is the daughter of Lord Harding, and the grand daughter of Field Marshal John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton, who commanded the Desert Rats in World War II.[3] Raised on the family pig farm in Dorset, she was educated at St Antony's Leweston from 1978–85. She then graduated from the University of Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, where she studied under Vernon Bogdanor and alongside David Cameron;[1] and then at Harvard Business School, gaining an MBA.[4]

On graduation she joined management consultancy McKinsey & Company.[5] Leaving to become marketing director at Thomas Cook Group, she was then appointed commercial director at Woolworths Group. She then joined Tesco within Sir Terry Leahy's office as international support director,[3] before being appointed commercial director of “added-value foods” in 2001.[4]

Resigning her position in October 2007, she joined the Board of Directors at Sainsbury's as Convenience Director. She was named CEO of Talktalk[when?], during the period when the group split its Carphone Warehouse retail operation from the group telecoms operation.[6] She was appointed a non-executive director of British Land plc in January 2010.

In October 1995, she married John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport since 14 May 2010. The couple have two children, and live in London during the week and Somerset on the weekends.[7]

Harding is a horse racing fanatic. A member of the Jockey Club, in 1993 she borrowed £7,000 from her bank to buy an Irish thoroughbred, hoping to ride him in ladies' point-to-point races. In 1998, her horse Cool Dawn won the Cheltenham Gold Cup.[8][9]

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4.[10] The honour was repeated the following year, when she was named in the 10 most influential women in the BBC Woman's Hour power list 2014. [11]


  • Dido Harding (8 March 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6. 


  1. ^ a b "Dido Harding". Brough Scott. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  2. ^ http://www.talktalkgroup.com/corporate-information/corporate-governance.html
  3. ^ a b Andrew Parker (3 December 2010). "New chief rings the changes at TalkTalk". Financial Times. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Sarah Butler (9 October 2007). "Business big shot: Dido Harding". The Times. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  5. ^ David Prosser (17 November 2010). "The Business On Dido Harding, Chief executive, TalkTalk". Independent. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  6. ^ James Hall and Rupert Neate (15 December 2009). "Ex-Tesco high-flier Dido Harding to head demerged TalkTalk". Telegraph. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  7. ^ "John Penrose". The Conservative Party. Retrieved 30 March 2011. 
  8. ^ Dido Harding (8 March 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6. 
  9. ^ http://investing.businessweek.com/research/stocks/people/person.asp?personId=10917296&ticker=TALK:LN&previousCapId=84118320&previousTitle=CABLE%20%26%20WIRELESS%20WORLDWIDE
  10. ^ BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list
  11. ^ "Woman's Hour Power List 2014 – Game Changers". BBC Radio 4.