Helen Alexander

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Person.png Helen Alexander   Powerbase SourcewatchRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Helen Alexander.jpg
Born10 February 1957
Geneva, Switzerland
Died5 August 2017 (Age 60)
Cause of death
Alma materHertford College (Oxford), INSEAD
Member ofWEF/Global Leaders for Tomorrow/1999
InterestsRolls Royce
British businesswoman with numerous directorships. After several decades as an executive at The Economist, she attended the 2013 and 2014 Bilderberg meetings. Selected a WEF Global Leader for Tomorrow 1999.

Dame Helen Anne Alexander was a British businesswoman with numerous directorships[1][2][3] After several decades as an executive at The Economist, she attended the 2013 and 2014 Bilderberg meetings.

In 1999, she was selected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum. Alexander was the first female president of the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) from 2009–2011, the time immediately following the 2008 global financial crisis. She was Chancellor of the University of Southampton (2011–2017), until her death of cancer.

Early life

Alexander was born in Geneva to Bernard Alexander, a British lawyer who worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Tania Benckendorff.[4] Her mother was Russian (with roots in Estonia)[5][6] and her maternal grandmother was Moura Budberg,[7] adventuress, muse, and suspected double agent. Through her, Helen Alexander was related to Nick Clegg, sometime Deputy Prime Minister, whose paternal grandmother, Kira von Engelhardt, Baroness von Smolensk, was Budberg's niece.[8]

Alexander was educated at St Paul's Girls' School in London. She got a degree in geography from Hertford College, Oxford in 1978 and graduated from INSEAD in 1984.[4]


She began a career in publishing at Faber and Faber. She joined the Economist Group as a marketing executive in 1985.[5] From 1997 to 2008 she was chief executive of the Economist Group, during which time profits greatly increased and the circulation of The Economist more than doubled.[5]

In 2004 she was appointed CBE for services to publishing. Alexander's numerous directorships included Huawei Technologies, Esure Group Holdings, Rolls-Royce Group, Incisive Media, Thomson-Reuters, UBM plc and Bain Capital.[9]

In 2011, she was the first female president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and was appointed DBE for services to business.[5]

She was a trustee of Sir Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web Foundation, and was chairman of the Port of London Authority from January 2010 until 31 December 2015. Since September 2011 she had been Chancellor of the University of Southampton, the first woman in that role.[10] Her appointment at Southampton attracted some criticism from the student body over Alexander's role at Rolls-Royce, given the company's role in the arms trade.[11]

She was an honorary fellow of Hertford College, Oxford,[12] and sat on the board of the Said Business School, University of Oxford.[13]

In 2016 she was awarded the Legion d'Honneur.[14]

Personal life

Alexander spoke fluent French. She was married and had three children. She was diagnosed with cancer in 2014 and died three years later.[15]


Events Participated in

Bilderberg/20136 June 20139 June 2013Watford
The 2013 Bilderberg group meeting.
Bilderberg/201429 May 20141 June 2014Denmark
Marriott Hotel
The 62nd Bilderberg, with 136 guests, held in Copenhagen
WEF/Annual Meeting/201126 January 201130 January 2011World Economic Forum
2230 guests in Davos, with the theme: "Shared Norms for the New Reality".
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