Barbara Judge

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Barbara Thomas Judge
Jordan 2011 - World Economic Forum Special Meeting on Economic Growth and Job Creation in the Arab World.jpg
Judge in 2011
Born Barbara Sue Singer
(1946-12-28) 28 December 1946 (age 70)
New York City, New York, U.S.
Residence London, England, UK
Nationality UK/USA
Alma mater

University of Pennsylvania (BA)

New York University (JD)
Occupation Lawyer and businesswoman
Known for
Board member of
Children 1
Parent(s) Jules and Marcia Singer
Awards Commander of the Order of the British Empire

Barbara Thomas, Lady Judge, CBE (née Barbara Sue Singer; born 28 December 1946[1] in New York City), known before as Barbara Singer Thomas, is an American-British lawyer and businesswoman, based in London with dual US/UK citizenship.[2]

She is the first female Chairman of the Institute of Directors,[3] Chairman Emeritus of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), the Chairman-elect of the United Kingdom's fraud prevention service CIFAS, a former Chairman of the Pension Protection Fund and a UK Business Ambassador on behalf of UK Trade & Investment.[4][5][6] She is also a trustee of several cultural and charitable institutions, including the Royal Academy of Arts and Dementia UK.

She is married to Sir Paul Judge and has a son from her marriage to Allen L. Thomas, an American lawyer. She is one of the UK's most prominent business executives, featuring in power lists compiled by Management Today, Debrett's and BBC Radio Four's Woman's Hour, the latter describing her as "one of the best-connected women in Britain".[7][8][9]

Education and early career[edit]

Barbara Sue Singer was born on 28 December 1946 at Doctor's Hospital in Manhattan, New York City.[1] Singer's father owned a small business; her mother Marcia Singer was associate dean of students at New York Institute of Technology.[2] Singer grew up in Saddle Rock, New York.[10]

She earned a B.A. degree in medieval history from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in 1966, writing her thesis on John, King of England.[11] She worked her way through university as a model, tutor, computer programmer and occasional waitress. She also met her first husband, Theodore Kozloff, at Penn.[2][12][13]

In 1969 she graduated from New York University School of Law, where she specialised in tax law, finishing with a Juris Doctor in 1969.[14][15]

She is a member of the Order of the Coif, a John Norton Pomeroy Scholar, a former editor of the New York University Law Review and the recipient of the Jefferson Davis Prize in Public Law. While at NYU School of Law she received American Jurisprudence Prizes in Excellence in 15 out of 28 subjects; these prizes were awarded to the student with the highest grade in the course.[16][17][18]

Her first job after graduation was in 1969 with law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where she worked as a corporate lawyer. In 1973, she joined the law firm Kaye, Scholer, Fierman, Hays, and Handler, where she specialised in corporate law and financial transactions, becoming a partner in 1978.[15] At that time she married Allen L. Thomas.[10][19]

SEC and banking[edit]

In 1980, Barbara Thomas was appointed by President Carter as a member of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in Washington, D.C. for a five-year term.[20] Her appointment was widely reported, being the youngest-ever SEC commissioner and only the second woman in the role. She was instrumental in opening U.S. capital markets to foreign companies. She also negotiated on behalf of the U.S. government to open the Tokyo Stock Exchange to foreign members, against opposition from some US financial commentators, who believed that American investors would be uninterested in Japanese stocks.[21] She would later describe these achievements as among the most significant of her career.[15][22][23]

In November 1983, after the birth of her son, Barbara Thomas left the SEC and moved to Hong Kong with her husband to be a regional executive director at Samuel Montagu & Co.; by that appointment she became the first woman to be appointed an executive director of a British merchant bank.[16][24][25] In 1987 she became senior vice president and group head of international private banking at Bankers Trust in New York.[14][26]

In 1988 she gave a character reference for Charles Keating, a former client of Kaye, Scholer. Keating was head of Lincoln Savings and Loan Association and American Continental Corporation, two companies whose collapse a year later would form part of the Savings and Loan crisis; later she was one of a number of professionals named in a resulting class action. Judge disputed the claim but settled out of court to avoid a protracted court case.[22][27][28]

Other former roles[edit]

In 1993, Barbara Thomas became an executive director of Rupert Murdoch's News International; in 1994 she moved from New York to London with her husband and her son, whom she wanted to raise in England.[14][24] Subsequently she worked in the private equity industry in the UK, including an acquisition of Scotia Haven Food Group and Whitworths Food Group; she also founded Private Equity Investor plc.[14]

Judge was the first woman on the Board of Overseers of the Wharton School of Management at the University of Pennsylvania and a founding director of the Lauder Institute of Management at Wharton, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees of New York Institute of Technology.[14][29]

Judge has served in a number of executive and non-executive roles, including Chairman of organisations such as Private Equity Investor; the governing body for SOAS, (the School of Oriental and African Studies); a member of the International Board of Overseers of Sabancı University, Istanbul; the Energy Institute at University College, London and the Ditchley Foundation.[30]

She is a former Deputy Chairman of The Financial Reporting Council,[31] Friends Life FPL Ltd and Forte Energy. She has also served as a board member of PA Consulting Group, among others. She has also served in various capacities for the UK Government's Department of Trade and Industry and its Department for Constitutional Affairs, as well as a public member of the International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants.[14]

She is a former trustee of The Wallace Collection[32] and a former director of the National Osteoporosis Society.

Massey Energy[edit]

Judge served on the board of US coal group Massey Energy. Her principal role there was corporate governance, but also included roles on the finance, safety, environmental and public policy committees at the time of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that killed 29 workers in Beckley, West Virginia. She resigned from the Board three weeks after the disaster, citing other ongoing business activities.[33] Judge was not personally criticised in the official report into the disaster, written by the US Government's Mine Safety and Health Administration; prior to the disaster Judge and other directors were criticised by CtW Investment Group, a shareholder activist group affiliated with the Change to Win Federation, a coalition of American labour unions including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. CtW questioned Judge's ability to devote sufficient time to the Massey board role; she went on to be re-elected to the board unopposed.[34][35]

Pension Protection[edit]

In April 2010, Judge was appointed Chairman of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), which provides compensation to employees with pension schemes in bankrupt firms.[36][37] She was the first woman to serve in the role. She was reappointed as Chairman in 2013 and completed her second (and maximum) term in July 2016.[38][39] She advocated that the pension regulator be given the power to block companies from deals that would harm pension scheme members, referencing Sir Philip Green's sale of BHS to Dominic Chappell.[40][41][42]

Current roles[edit]

Institute of Directors[edit]

In 2015 Judge became the first woman to be appointed as Chairman of the 113-year-old Institute of Directors (IoD), the UK members organisation which works in promotion of company directors and corporate governance.[43] Judge has said she has a "three part mission" to her tenure, using her position to open doors for women to become chief executives; to encourage the IoD to host entrepreneurship; and to encourage older workers to remain in the workforce as both employees and paid mentors to younger generations of entrepreneurs.

She has advocated for schools to instil self-belief and optimism in girls, and for female STEM students to be encouraged into traditionally male careers such as engineering. She believes that the emphasis on placing women into non-executive roles must be augmented by a similar effort to get women into chief executive roles, with companies helping to alleviate the "pressure points” for women with family responsibilities, which often include caring for elderly parents as well as children.[44] Judge has advised women in business to learn accountancy, explaining: “That’s where the power lies”.[2] Judge also wants the IoD to enable young entrepreneurs to connect with older executives, by pairing them in an alumni programme.

Referencing the pension deficit at British Home Stores, Judge has called for the Pensions Regulator to have power of binding veto over M&A activity in firms of a certain size, so that a purchasing firm must present a detailed plan for addressing any deficit in the pension fund of the target firm.[45]

Judge has called for the introduction of tax allowances to help adults learn new workplace skills. In a 2017 article for The Telegraph she argued that older workers and older entrepreneurs were needed to address the negative social impact of automation and an ageing population, and that older workers were often better placed to start their own businesses than their younger counterparts, many of whom lack contacts, capital and experience.[46]

Nuclear power[edit]

UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA)[edit]

Lady Judge became a non-executive director in 2002, and in 2004 the Chairman, of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA).[6] She was succeeded by Roger Cashmore in 2010, after the sale of the UKAEA's decommissioning business to Babcock International Group in 2009.[47][48] She remains the UKAEA Chairman Emeritus.

Judge's initial brief from government ministers was to "hold and fold" the UKAEA prior to shutting it down, at a potential loss of 2800 jobs. Judge proposed an alternative plan, where the business would be built up, internationalised and then sold. The agency’s main business was decommissioning old British nuclear sites; Judge pushed for similar contracts on sites in the former Soviet Union and pursued partnerships in countries such as Korea. She also lobbied the Blair government to end its opposition to nuclear power.[49] These activities publicised the work of the agency amid an increase in positive sentiment towards nuclear power in the mid-00's, with governments commissioning new reactors in order to meet carbon emission targets. She describes her time with UKAEA as "like spinning straw into gold", referencing her initial brief to close down the agency.[50] In 2010 she was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Nuclear and Financial Services Industries.[51]

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)[edit]

In October 2012, Judge was appointed Deputy Chairman of TEPCO's Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee and Chairman of its Nuclear Safety Task Force.[52][53] The Monitoring Committee is an advisory body of domestic Japanese and international experts which supervises the activities of the Task Force.[54] Judge has argued that it is particularly appropriate for a woman to join the group, as woman are typically the most vocal opponents of nuclear power.[55] She believes nuclear energy is critical to the security of energy supply and its associated national security, and that nuclear power has as much of a role to play in carbon reduction as renewable energy sources.[56][57]

Other nuclear energy roles[edit]

Judge has served on the International Advisory Board for the development of nuclear energy in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and has led a trade delegation to India to discuss how British companies could take part in the construction of six nuclear reactors at Jaitapur.[58] In 2016 Judge was appointed to the International Advisory Group of the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission.[59]

Dementia UK[edit]

Judge was appointed to Dementia UK's Board of Trustees in January 2015.[60] She plans a large fundraising event for World Alzheimer’s Day in September 2016, in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society.[61]


In May 2016 Judge was announced as the Chairman elect of CIFAS, the UK’s fraud prevention service. CIFAS is a not-for-profit company working to protect businesses, charities, public bodies and individuals from financial crime. She succeeds the outgoing Chairman, Ken Cherrett, in September 2016.[62]

Other current roles[edit]

In January 2016 Judge was appointed the first-ever female Chairman of the Advisory Board of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE), succeeding Sir John Armitt.[63] In August 2016 Judge was appointed Chairwoman of Hibob, a Uk-based technology platform that helps small businesses to manage their staff.[64]

Judge is Honorary Visiting Professor in Experiential Leadership at Cass University and a visiting fellow of the University of Oxford Saïd Business School at the Centre for Corporate Reputation.[65]

She is a trustee of Historic Royal Palaces,Inc and of the Royal Academy of Arts, where she is an active fundraiser and Chairman of the Benjamin West Patrons Group.[66][67][68] She is also a member of the Council for Foreign Relations and of the Trilateral Commission.[69][70]

Honours and assessment[edit]

In 2010 Judge was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to the Nuclear and Financial Services Industries.

BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour listed Judge as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK; Square Mile Magazine listed her in its Top 100 Most Powerful People In The City of London.[71] She also appears in lists of influential individuals compiled by Management Today and Debrett's.[51][72]

In 2008 she was made an Honorary Graduate of University Campus Suffolk; in 2012 she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from The University of Buckingham.[73][74] In 2015 she was awarded Non-Executive Director of The Year for A Public Sector Organisation, in respect of her Chairmanship of the Pension Protection Fund.[75]

In 2011 the National Portrait Gallery purchased and now displays a photo portrait of Judge, taken by the photographer Alexander McIntyre.[76]

Women in business[edit]

Judge is a well-known commentator and activist for women in business, being the first female director to be appointed to a British merchant bank, the first female executive director at News International and first female Chairman of the Institute of Directors. [77]

She argues that women have a moral and social responsibility to help other women. She has said her interest in the topic stems principally from her mother, but also from not having a daughter.[11] Judge was asked by a job interview panel at the Bank of England to name her greatest accomplishment; she answered that it was taking a nine-month sabbatical to help her son Lloyd cope with dyslexia.[78]

Gender quotas[edit]

Judge advocates the use of gender quotas allied to sunset legislation: “I don’t like [quotas] in theory, but I like the result. For so long we hoped [gender equality] would happen, by putting just one person here and just one person there, but it didn’t happen. Sometimes you have to kick the ball for it to go in the right direction”.[79] In an interview with the Telegraph, she described how President Carter had specified that his next appointee to the SEC had to be female, a securities lawyer and a partner in a law firm: it was found there were only six such individuals in America at the time.[80]

For every board Judge serves on, her stated policy is to place at least one other woman to the same board, and preferably at least three women: "One woman is an oddity, two is ok - but at three you’re not “women”, rather it’s just “people”, and once you’re just people the dynamic changes.”[81][82]

She advises women to make a point of asking for promotion, in order to counter male assumptions about female ambition. She also advocates that women seek both a sponsor and a mentor, where "...a mentor is someone who talks to you; a sponsor is someone who talks about you"[24]

Judge believes women should define their own identity as regards work and relationships: “I don’t think [the partner] has to do the dishes. I think they have to not mind if somebody else does the dishes. They don’t have to care for the child. They just have to not mind if you have childcare.”[83]

Influence of mother[edit]

Judge has frequently cited her mother Marcia as the most significant influence upon her life and work.[84] Marcia Singer worked as an associate dean of the New York Institute of Technology. She devised courses helping women into work, advising them “wear white gloves” – which meant dress appropriately – write a CV, and answer ads even though they said “men wanted”.[85] Singer remained in work until she was 88 but was diagnosed with dementia soon after retirement. This experience shaped Judge's belief that remaining in work is crucial to longevity and happiness in old age. She has said that her mother taught her and many other women that a woman should work “not because they were poor or alone … [but] because they had a brain and they should use it and they should earn their own money, because money was independence”.[12] Her mother also taught that women “can have a serious career and also be a serious mother.”[86]

In an interview with CNN, Judge said "Growing up, my milieu was like Betty Draper in Mad Men - the one who goes to a good college, gets married to a nice guy and lives in Connecticut and has two children and slowly goes mad, and that could have been me if my mother hadn’t told me there was another way."[81] Her personal ambition is to “...die at my desk"[11][87]

Restaurant reviews[edit]

Judge is a restaurant reviewer for and formerly The Telegraph and International Express newspapers.[88][89] Her Forbes column began in 2013 and is based on venues she visits on business trips. She has a particular interest in writing about desserts, a course she characterises as “...a free sin”.[90] She cites food as her one hobby outside of work.


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External links[edit]