Carolyn Fairbairn 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. 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.
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. In 1995 she joined the Downing Street Policy Unit under Prime Minister John Major, developing policy for health and social services.
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. On 10 June 2004, the BBC announced that Fairbairn and her husband had “decided to take time out from their careers to spend a year travelling around the world with their three children.”
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