It was at a conference earlier this summer when the former Financial Times chief executive
With a formidable CV like hers, spanning more than a decade at the FT owner Pearson and a seat at the government's
Confirmed on Sunday as the government's preferred candidate for the role, her formal appointment will cap a distinguished rise to the top.
Fairhead, 53, was chairwoman and chief executive of the
In her six years at the FT group, Fairhead oversaw a number of large sell-offs, including the sale of French newspaper group Les Echos in 2007 for €240m (£190m) and the sale in 2010 of Pearson's 61% stake in
But her final year at the group was dominated by industry rumours that Pearson was looking to sell the FT. The speculation was only put to rest last February by the new Pearson chief executive,
Towards the end of her time at the FT, Fairhead underwent treatment for breast cancer. Since leaving the group last April – taking home a reported £3.1m in salary, compensation and future share awards – the work has not stopped. Alongside commitments as non-executive director of
Before joining Pearson, Fairhead held senior roles at Bombardier, hi-tech weapons company Short Brothers and chemicals firm ICI.
Born in Cumbia in 1961, Fairhead began her education at Yarm grammar school in Stockton-on-Tees, before studying at
Today Fairhead's hobbies include skiing, scuba diving and flying. A member of Bournemouth Flying club, she is almost certainly the first
Little is known about her politics but her husband,
The couple, who have three children, live in Notting Hill, a short walk from the
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