Rona Fairhead Named As The BBC Trust’s First Female Chairperson


If you, like us, get exciting when we hear about female trailblazers in the media, then remember the name Rona Fairhead. The former Financial Times chief executive has just been appointed by the UK government as the head of the BBC Trust, the public broadcaster’s governing body. The also becomes the first woman ever to be in charge at the BBC, so three cheers for progress in one of the world’s oldest media institutions! Can you see that glass ceiling cracking?

“The BBC is a great British institution packed with talented people, and I am honored to have the opportunity to be the chairman of the BBC Trust. I am under no illusions about the significance and the enormity of the job, but I am excited to have the chance to lead the BBC through the coming years.” she said in a statement about her new position.

We too are under no illusions what a grand statement her appointment makes for women everywhere. And let’s be clear, she was picked on merit, not for her gender. It’s just a great time to be celebrating that women are finally being acknowledged in the most senior positions as deserving of the job, alongside men. Because hey, it is 2014 isn’t it?!

Just in case anyone is in doubt about her credibility, how about these apples: Fairhead is an independent non-executive director of HSBC Holdings and non-executive chairman of HSBC North America Holdings. She is also a non-executive director of PepsiCo.

She served as chairman and CEO of the Financial Times Group for seven years until 2013, and as non-executive director of The Economist Group from 2006 to 2014. She was an executive director of their owners, Pearson, from 2002 to 2013, serving as Pearson’s chief financial officer from 2002 to 2006.


Rona’s appointment as head of the BBC Trust comes at a crucial time, after the network was dogged by a major child sexual abuse scandal with late TV presenter Jimmy Savile.The BBC Trust’s royal charter, which defines its purpose and the scope of its activities, is another major gig she will have to undertake early in her job as the current charter expires at the end of 2016.

There are some industry insiders who were a little surprised at the government’s choice to pick Rona, as she is a relatively unknown name, but the 53 year-old has proven to be an impressive choice for selectors, including British Prime Minister David Cameron. She denied claims the government was determined to appoint a woman, telling the Culture, Media and Sport Committee: “I felt the process was, for my mind, a standard process”.

Rona underwent questioning by the British Parliament on Sept 9 for her position, and was asked what made her qualified for the job, given that she wasn’t the favorite to acquire it. She said she has been a lifelong watcher of various BBC channels saying she”woke up and went to bed with the BBC”. She also listens to Radio 4’s Today program and watched the news channel.

Rona continued to tell MPs she was a fan of Doctor Who as a child and would “wake up early on Sunday to Match of the Day” which she continued to watch with her children. “I watch across the range of the BBC,” she added.

“I have no doubt she will provide the strong leadership the position demands and will prove to be a worthy champion of license fee payers. I am sure that under Rona’s leadership the BBC will continue to play a central role in informing, educating and entertaining the nation,” said UK culture secretary Sajid Javid. A senior BBC trust figure was reportedly pleased the government has chosen a woman. We are too!



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.