Heather Rabbatts

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Heather Rabbatts simply defies any categorisation - Law, public sector, business, media and sport. She has been there and done that and then some.

Heather was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1955 and moved to England at the age of three. She left school with five O-levels, but showed her first streak of determination to succeed by studying for her A-levels at night school before getting a place at the London School of Economics, where she graduated in Law. Her professional career then took off as a lawyer when she was called to the Bar in 1981.

In 1985, Heather turned her attention to local government, firstly as policy and Parliamentary adviser to the Local Government Information Unit. She became Deputy Chief Executive of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham in 1987, and then went on to become Chief Executive of the London Boroughs of Merton and Lambeth, making history as the youngest council chief in the country. At the seemingly ungovernable Lambeth, she supported regeneration initiatives of the South Bank, in particular the London Eye and she has remained firmly in the media eye ever since.

On leaving Lambeth in 2000, she established herself as businesswoman by becoming the Chief Executive of iMPOWER, a public sector consultancy, as its founder and co-chair.

Then Heather’s interest turned to the media. She was appointed as a Governor of the BBC in 1999 but resigned in 2001 to move to Channel 4 as its Managing Director of education programmes and business.

Having been in the fields of Law, public sector, business, media, Heather moved into sport. She became the Executive Deputy Chair of Millwall F.C. in May 2006. Later the same year she was appointed Executive Chairwoman of Millwall Holdings plc. Heather’s business acumen meant that she spear-headed the successful restructuring the football club, both on the pitch and in securing American investment.

A total non-conformist, in December 2011, she became the first woman (and still the only woman) to be appointed as a director of The Football Association (FA), the game’s governing body in England. She is also the Chair of the FA’s Inclusion Advisory Board.

Heather hit the headlines again in October 2013 when she criticised the make-up of the FA’s commission to improve the national team as being "all-white, all-male", which prompted the body to promptly add footballer Rio Ferdinand to its ranks.

In 2009, during her reign at Millwall, Heather also became Chair of Waterloo Road producer Shed Media and oversaw its sale to Time Warner. 

Throughout her career she has held a number of non-executive directorships, including at the Bank of England, the London School of Economics, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the British Council, Grosvenor Estates GBI, Crossrail and the Royal Opera House.

She was awarded the CBE in the 2000 New Year Honours list and in February 2013 she was named as one of the 100 most powerful women in the UK by BBC Radio 4’s Woman's Hour.  She received the Freedom of the City of London in November 2013, for her impressive philanthropic efforts.

Heather is the Chair of Trustees for Malaria No More UK.

See Also: 
the Legal Eves section.