Carolyn Fairbairn

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Carolyn Fairbairn
Born Carolyn Julie Fairbairn
(1960-12-13) 13 December 1960 (age 56)
Nationality British
Alma mater Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge
University of Pennsylvania
Occupation Director-general, Confederation of British Industry
Spouse(s) Peter Chittick
Children 3

Carolyn Julie Fairbairn (born 13 December 1960) is a British businesswoman, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry and former non-executive director of the Competition and Markets Authority, Lloyds Banking Group and the UK Statistics Authority.

Early life[edit]

Fairbairn graduated with a BA in Economics (Double First) from Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, then an MA in International Relations from the University of Pennsylvania, followed by an MBA from INSEAD in France.[1]


She began her career as an economist at the World Bank. In 1985 she became a business and financial journalist, writing for The Economist magazine.[2]

In 1988 she joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant, and during a seven-year career rose to partner. She worked with companies in sectors including brewing, DIY retailing, computer services, investment management and newspapers, advising on mergers, business expansion, cost control and global competitiveness.[2] In 1995 she joined the Downing Street Policy Unit under Prime Minister John Major, developing policy for health and social services.[1]

In 1997 Fairbairn was appointed as Director of Strategy for BBC Worldwide, later promoted to Director of Strategy & Distribution, and also became a member of the BBC's Executive Board. She was responsible for delivery of the BBC’s services to viewers, including on cable and satellite. She managed a budget of £150 million and negotiated the BBC’s major distribution deals with Sky, Virgin and BT. She helped to develop the BBC's digital strategy and renewal of their charter, and was instrumental in creating One BBC. In 2002/3, she created and launched Freeview - a joint venture between the BBC, Sky and Arqiva, which became one of the UK’s most successful new television services.[2]

On 10 June 2004, the BBC announced that Fairbairn and her husband "have decided to take time out from their careers to spend a year travelling around the world with their three children."

Fairbairn briefly rejoined McKinsey & Company in 2006, before becoming director of corporate development and strategy at ITV plc between 2007/10. She joined the company at a time of crisis as the advertising market collapsed following the financial crash. She was put in charge of ITV’s emergency cost-reduction programme to cut the company’s cost base by 25%. This enabled ITV to weather the storm and subsequently return to growth.[2]

On 24 July 2013 David Currie, the chairman-designate of the new Competition and Markets Authority, announced Fairbairn's appointment as a non-executive director. Between 2008 and 2011, Carolyn was a non-executive director of the Financial Services Authority.[2]

Fairbairn has extensive boardroom experience, including as a non-executive director of Lloyds Banking Group 2012/15, The Vitec Group (a medium-sized photographic and broadcast equipment supplier) 2012/15, global outsourcer Capita 2014/15, and UK Statistics Authority 2013/15. [2]

Confederation of British Industry[edit]

On 29 June 2015, it was announced that she would replace John Cridland in November as Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, as a result of which she would resign all other positions aside from her chair of Marie Curie Cancer Care.[3]

Fairbairn has spoken about her vision for the Confederation of British Industry saying, “I’ve spent most of my working life in British business and believe deeply in its purpose as a creator of fulfilling jobs, quality of life and prosperity. I’m committed to using my experience to speak up passionately on behalf of British businesses of all sizes on the national and international stage.”. [2]

Personal life[edit]

She is married to Peter Chittick, and they have three children.[4] Chittick is Canadian, trained as a lawyer, and met Fairbairn when they were students at INSEAD.[5] He is a multimillionaire property developer, and together they own the "boutique" Hotel Crillon Le Brave in Provence, France.[6]


  1. ^ a b "List of Public Companies Worldwide, Letter - Businessweek - Businessweek". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Carolyn Fairbairn to become next CBI Director-General". CBI Press Team. June 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2016. 
  3. ^ "CBI appoints Carolyn Fairbairn as director general - BBC News". Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  4. ^ Sean Farrell. "Business secretary Sajid Javid attacks CBI over EU referendum | Business". The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  5. ^ "Interview with Peter Chittick, Owner of Hotel Crillon Le Brave". 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 
  6. ^ "Boutique hotel owner checks in at the top of CBI". The Times. 2015-06-30. Retrieved 2015-11-23. 

External links[edit]

Business positions
Preceded by
John Cridland
Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry