Helen Alexander CBE
President of UK Confederation of British Industry (CBI)
Helen is credited with expanding and internationalising The Economist publication from its flagship magazine to a broader empire. She is also credited with having played the pivotal role in almost doubling the circulation of The Economist news magazine to nearly 1.3 million (including 1.1m overseas) along with setting up offices across America and Asia. Helen Alexander began her education at St Paul’s Girls’ School in London. She obtained an MA from Hertford College, Oxford in 1978 and became an Honorary Fellow of the College in 2002.
She embarked on her MBA at INSEAD in 1984 after working in publishing at Gerald Duckworth and Faber and Faber for six years and having completed a temporary job with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).
INSEAD had a major influence on Helen’s life at the time. “It was exciting for the first time to be with so many people whose hopes and ambitions were like mine.”
Helen fondly remembers taking her mother to the Corporate Finance class where she “was captivated by Professor Gabriel Hawawini, our Professor of Finance.”
On finishing her MBA, Helen rejoined The Economist Group in 1985 as a marketing manager. She ran the international circulation and EIU and became Chief Executive in 1997; she stepped down as CEO last year. Helen says, “I am very proud to have led The Economist Group for 11 years as CEO, it was fantastic, we went through tough times and good ones, and came out stronger. I'm proud of the team I created there and of the fact that my successor came from within that team.”
Helen’s next big challenge is as President of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), a role she took up in June this year – the first female president in the trade group’s 44 year history.
Helen also plays an active role at INSEAD, having served on the board from 2005 to 2008. She always tries to promote the INSEAD experience wherever possible.
Helen remains close to her family and friends and says, “My ambition is to continue to enjoy what I do.”