January 21, 2012 12:12 am

Women on boards

The biographies of eight ambitious women outline their paths to the top
Silhouettes of women on boards

Who’s who: the women in the first photograph and their most recent board appointment

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Johanna Waterous

Johanna Waterous is Canadian and one of three women in the photograph who originally hail from North America. She paid her way through the University of Western Ontario by working for Canadian military intelligence on a Nato taskforce on Soviet surveillance, the only woman among 150 men; since then a male environment has never seemed to hold her back. Five years at Dow Chemical followed by a Harvard MBA led to 22 years at McKinsey, giving her a career, a husband and a son who is now 18. She began working with Tate on a pro bono basis while still at McKinsey in 1993, joined the board of Tate Enterprises as a non-executive director in 1998 and was Chairman of Tate Enterprises between 2000 and 2006. She left McKinsey in 2007, joining the board of RSA Insurance Group in 2008 and Wm Morrison Supermarkets in 2010. She has also been a trustee of the English National Opera. She is an operating partner at the private equity firm Duke Street LLP, and is chairman of Sandpiper, one of its portfolio businesses. Her current not-for-profit appointments are as a trustee of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew Foundation and a member of the business board of the Royal Horticultural Society.

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Gay Huey Evans

Huey Evans was described in the financial trade press in 2006 as an “American-born derivatives expert” and in 2008, when she joined Barclays as a vice-chairman of investment banking and investment management, as “comely”, a word that would have caused uproar if the journalist had not been herself a woman. A graduate of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, she joined Bankers Trust in 1984; there for 15 years, starting out in New York and moving to the UK in 1991. Her career there ran concurrently with being chairman of ISDA in 1994-98, at a time when most people had never heard of a derivative. In 1998 she cut her regulatory teeth by joining the newly-formed FSA as director of markets, here again combining her role with a prominent industry appointment when she was appointed chairman of the Joint Forum, a group of technical experts working under the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision (BCBS), the International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS). She left the FSA in 2005. Returning to the private sector when she joined Barclays in 2008, she left in 2010 to pursue a more plural career. She was appointed to the board of the London Stock Exchange in June 2010, and Aviva, where she is also chair of the Corporate Governance Committee, in October 2011, and has returned to ISDA as its vice chairman and chair of Europe. Her “third dimension” is as a trustee of the medical charity Wellbeing of Women and the Wigmore Hall Trust. Huey Evans has a daughter, Alexandra, who is 25, living in LA and working in the film industry.

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Helen Weir CBE

When SAB Miller announced that Helen Weir had joined their board in May 2011, it seemed a natural appointment for someone who had spent her whole career involved with brands, albeit with a focus on finance. After a first-class degree in maths from Oxford, she joined the Unilever graduate training scheme and as well as gaining experience of brand management, also completed her CIMA qualification. Next she undertook an MBA at Stanford and joined McKinsey. After five years, however, she decided that it was time to move on from consulting and joined B&Q in 1995, firstly as finance and strategy director for the fledgling Warehouse format, and then as finance director for the whole business. She moved on to become finance director of B&Q’s parent company Kingfisher in 2000, her first executive plc board appointment. Appointed finance director of Lloyds Banking Group in 2004, she was promoted to run the largest part of the bank, UK Retail Banking in April 2008. After seven years with Lloyds, Weir left the bank in 2011. Her previous non-executive appointments include City of London Investment Trust Plc and the Royal Mail Holdings, as well as being a Member of the Supervisory Board of Hornbach Holding AG; she has also served as a member of the Accounting Standards Board. Married to Andrew, Weir has two sons and a daughter aged 17, 13 and nine. Her “third dimension” work demonstrates her love of rugby, where she has served as treasurer and manager-U10s for Beaconsfield Rugby Club and also as a trustee of the Wasps Community Foundation. She serves on the Advisory Council of the Said Business School, is a governor of Caldicott School and currently chairs the corporate board of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

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Susan Kilsby

Susan Kilsby went straight to Wall Street from Wellesley when, set to embark on a medical career, she had her head turned by the legendary M&A team of Bruce Wasserstein and Joe Perella at First Boston. With investment banking in its infancy, the group totalled only 18 professionals at that time. Thrown in at the deep end, Kilsby was leading billion-dollar deals before she was 30. She is now a senior adviser at Credit Suisse, where she previously headed the EMEA M&A Group and ran the consumer products team in investment banking. Along the way she got her MBA from Yale and worked at Bankers Trust, where she acquired her English husband Richard and moved to the UK, and BZW, which became part of Credit Suisse in 1998. Kilsby’s directorships reflect her passions. She is a non-executive director of international skincare company L’Occitane, and is now fulfilling her medical ambitions through her directorship at Shire Plc, a FTSE 50 company. She is a senior visiting fellow and chairman of the M&A Research Centre of Cass Business School in London. She is a member of Wellesley College’s Business Leadership Council and serves on the Board of Advisors of the Yale School of Management and of the Millstein Center for Corporate Governance at Yale. She also is chairman of the international region for C200, an organisation composed of leading women in business globally, and is a founding member of the Competitor Diversity Forum. Kilsby’s finely honed M&A talents have been put to good use for personal benefit, buying homes in Florida, London, Switzerland and South Africa. A New York Mets season ticket holder since 1987, she dreams of a Mets victory over the Yankees in the World Series.

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Alison Wood

In July 2011, Alison Wood, the global corporate development director at National Grid became a non-executive director of Cobham, the UK-headquartered defence and aerospace company. Looking at her career, the only mystery to me is why they hadn’t snapped her up long before. An undergraduate degree from Oxford in engineering, economics and management, and later an MBA from Harvard, enabled Wood to start her career in management consulting, and she was with Booz Allen and Hamilton before joining British Aerospace in 1991. Here she was definitely in a world where women were in the minority, working in various posts across the military aircraft and defence businesses. Her roles included being the founding managing director for NITEworks, responsible for establishing a new partnership entity between the Ministry of Defence and BAE Systems (and nine other defence companies) to deliver a challenging set of MoD requirements. She moved to her current role at National Grid Plc in June 2008. Wood’s previous non-executive directorships included the technology company BTG Plc (2004-2008) and the telecoms company THUS Plc (2007 until it was bought by Cable & Wireless in 2008).

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Angela Knight

Angela Knight’s most recent appointment, as a non-executive director of the interdealer broker Tullett Prebon Plc in September 2011, was another marker in a long and distinguished career of the CEO of the British Bankers Association, which has encompassed industry, politics and the financial services sector. Knight’s degree, from Bristol University, was in chemistry, and on graduating she joined the American industrial gas company Air Products Ltd. Having served her time as the product development manager for the application and sales of nitrogen as an inert carrier, she felt more than ready to set up her own company, a specialist contract heat treatment company treating precision engineering components, Cook & Knight Metallurgical Processors Ltd. But politics was her passion and despite having just started a family she also served as Councillor and Chief Whip on Sheffield City Council between 1987 and 1992. She entered Parliament in 1992 as MP for Erewash and was economic secretary to the Treasury between 1995 and 1997, when she lost her seat at the general election. Since then Knight’s career has been dedicated to the financial services industry, serving as the chief executive of the Association of Private Client Investment Managers and Stockbrokers from September 1997 and her current role from 2007. Her earlier non-executive appointments have included the Port Authority and LogicaCMG Plc. She also currently sits as a non-executive director on the board of Brewin Dolphin Plc; has previously held a number of other non-executive directorships, such as at South East Water, Mott Macdonald, Scottish Widows and Lloyds; and is a board member of the Financial Skills Partnership. Knight will be taking over as the senior independent director at Tullet Prebon in due course. She is the mother of two adult sons, born in 1986 and 1988, and has served as a governor of several schools, including Tapton in Sheffield and Bradfield College, and is currently an honorary independent adviser to the War Widows Association.

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Judy Gibbons

Not many women were studying engineering in Judy Gibbons’ time at university, but her degree set her up for a career in the male-dominated world of technology, including several years in Silicon Valley. She has worked for three of the most famous information technology companies in the world – Hewlett Packard (where she met her husband Trevor), Apple (where she was part of the company’s early development work on interactive multimedia and its first PDA device) and Microsoft, which she joined in 1994 to launch their MSN internet business in the UK. She went on to manage MSN Europe, MSN International (which included South America, Asia Pacific and Japan) and then MSN Worldwide as corporate vice-president of global sales and marketing. From 2005 until 2011 Gibbons was a venture partner at Accel, the global private equity technology specialist whose investments include internet innovators Facebook, Kayak, Spotify and Etsy. Judy concurrently completed her MSc in leadership and strategy on the Sloan programme at the London Business School. Her previous non-executive appointments include O2, where she was on the board from May 2005 until its acquisition by Telefónica in 2006. She has been a non-executive director of the Guardian Media Group since 2008, and was appointed to the board of Hammerson Plc in May 2011. She is also the non-executive chairman of the private company Mippin, which is at the forefront of mobile applications technology, and her not-for-profit activities include membership on the board of Virgin Money Giving.

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Angie Risley

Angie Risley was appointed to the board of Serco on April 1 2011, and will take over as chair of Serco’s remuneration committee this year. Serco has more than 100,000 staff and operates more than 700 individual outsourced contracts, so people are at the heart of the organisation. Angie has a long and successful track record in the people business. She graduated from Exeter with a degree in sociology and then completed a post-graduate qualification in human resources before spending five years with United Biscuits. In 1985 she joined Pizza Hut, at the time a joint venture between Whitbread and PepsiCo, and then from 1989 spent 18 years in the service of Whitbread’s shareholders culminating in her appointment as group human resources director in 2001 and later an executive director of the public company in 2004. During that time her two sons, now at university, were born, and she became a member of the Low Pay Commission. She was also appointed to her first non-executive directorship, with Biffa Plc, in 2006. In 2007 she joined Lloyds TSB, now Lloyds Banking Group, as group human resources director, responsible for developing group-wide people practices for more than 110,000 employees. She was also previously a non-executive director at Arriva Plc, from 2008 until it was acquired by Deutsche Bahn in 2010, and a school governor. Risley sets herself a different challenge each year (to raise money for charity) - for example, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in January 2009, completing the London Marathon in 2010 and completing the Three Peaks Challenge within 24 hours in 2011. She has previously cited her father as a huge influence on her career, saying that “he encouraged me in whatever I did and always had belief in me”.

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