Carolyn Fairbairn

Ambassador for Cambridge Judge Business School

Director General, Confederation of British Industry

  • 2015-present: Confederation of British Industry – Director General
  • 2012-2015: Lloyds Banking Group – Non-executive Director
  • 2012-2015: The Vitec Group – Non-executive Director
  • 2013-2015: Competition and Markets Authority – Non-executive Director
  • 2013-2015: UK Statistics Authority – Non-executive Director
  • 2014-2015: Capita – Non-executive Director
  • 2007-2011: ITV – Director of Group Development and Strategy
  • 2008-2011: Financial Services Authority – Non-executive Director
  • 2006-2007: McKinsey & Company – Partner
  • 2000-2004: BBC – Director of Strategy and Distribution
  • 1997-2000: BBC Worldwide, Director of Strategy
  • 1995-1997: Prime Minister’s Policy Unit
  • 1988-1995: McKinsey & Company – Consultant
  • 1985-1987: The Economist – Journalist
  • 1984-1985: The World Bank – Economist
Carolyn Fairbairn.

News and insights

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From Downing Street to the Lloyds Banking Group, via the BBC, ITV and McKinsey to name a few, Carolyn Fairbairn knows that there's no "one size fits all" approach to leadership. People lead in different ways. There's no one method that will work for everyone. To be a good leader, I think you have to work out what you're really good at, take that core of what you know and build your leadership style around it. Confidence is key, but my own leadership style was an evolution. My skills developed over time. I've always been encouraged to push myself harder. My father was an eminent business leader who taught me a lot, but my grandfather was one of my greatest inspirations – he grew up in London's East End and pulled himself up by his bootstraps, winning scholarships to grammar school and then Cambridge. He was always encouraging me to think differently. I was academic but quiet, whereas he was an extrovert who would constantly say: "Come on, you've got to have an opinion on this." He made me feel like I was a leader. Thinking differently has become the hallmark of my career. I was the first female economics…

Media coverage

Cambridge Business Magazine | 1 December 2015

No public humiliation

Carolyn Fairbairn, the new director general of the Confederation of British Industry and a member of the Advisory Board at Cambridge Judge Business School, shares her insights on leadership and how to be a better leader.