Lucy Neville-Rolfe, or ‘Baroness of Chilmark in the county of Wiltshire’ as she is now styled in Debrett's, is quite simply the best known and most highly respected woman in the British comms industry.
She first came to public prominence in 1997 when she took up the role of group director of corporate affairs at Tesco, reporting directly to the CEO. Her surefooted performance as chief spokesman on brand issues, government relations and controversies such as Tesco’s treatment of suppliers is widely credited as being instrumental in Tesco’s expansion from UK market leader to a £72bn global business.
Her competence and integrity soon took her to the position of company secretary before being appointed to the Tesco board. This made her a trailblazer for corporate comms in the boardroom, one of the most senior women in British retailing, commerce or business and an inspiration to a generation of women.
Despite a life spent in the highest reaches of politics and commerce, she has retained a powerful sense of ethical purpose. It was no great surprise when her contribution to public life was recognised this year with a peerage. Her mission, she says, is to help Parliament to a better understanding of the "customer".
"A brilliant operator who has inspired communicators from both genders to aspire to the highest levels in every sense"
Ruth Wyatt Brand editor, PRWeek