Lorraine Heggessey is a trailblazing business leader, who has driven success and transformation in a range of high-profile roles in the public, private and third sector.
The first female controller of BBC 1, Lorraine led the channel to become the most popular in Britain, overtaking its main competitor, ITV1, for the first time. With an annual budget of £1billion, she revamped Saturday nights introducing flagship hit shows including Strictly Come Dancing and the new Dr Who. She also brought additional dramas into the schedule many of which became long running series such as Spooks and Waking the Dead.
Moving on to become CEO of talkbackThames, she set up a new digital unit and drove commercial success with profits increasing by 50% in her first two years. Her creative leadership and exceptional ability to motivate talent also revitalized the programming portfolio and saw the introduction of global hit entertainment shows, including Britain’s Got Talent and Take Me Out.
In 2012, in search of a new challenge, she secured private equity investment for her vision to build a new independent production group through a combination of acquisitions and backing start-ups. As Executive Chair, Lorraine led Boom Pictures through several deals in quick succession to build the 7th largest independent production company in Britain (worth c£100 million with offices worldwide). It was subsequently acquired by ITV in 2015 and renamed Two Four Group.
More recently Lorraine was CEO of The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. With a brief to use her business acumen to professionalize and grow the Foundation, she helped develop and refine its unique model of venture philanthropy that incubates initiatives to tackle some of today’s biggest challenges. This included mental health – through the Heads Together campaign – and supporting wounded, sick and injured veterans.
Lorraine’s varied career has meant she is no stranger to controversy – known as the woman who sacked Blue Peter presenter Richard Bacon for taking cocaine, turned the tables on reporter Roger Cook by door stepping him for a Channel 4 documentary and secured the first ever television interview with notorious villain Mad Frankie Fraser for a series on the history of crime in Britain.
A Fellow of the Royal Television Society and frequent judge for BAFTA and the RTS, Lorraine continues to act as an external advisor to Channel 4’s Growth Fund – set up to invest in small to medium sized production companies. She supports the companies in the portfolio helping them to deliver creative and commercial success. She is also Chair of the Grierson Trust, which celebrates and promotes documentary excellence through its annual awards and opens doors to the industry for young people from diverse backgrounds whose voices might otherwise not be heard. She is a regular contributor to the Today Programme and Newsnight on media topics.
An incredible business leader.
A Captivating speaker.
Credits: Black and White photos from Let’s Reset
Photos from Let’s Reset by Suki Thompson with Rankin. Resetting the workplace.