Helen Fraser is the Chief Executive of the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST). The GDST is the leading network of independent girls' schools in the UK, with 24 schools and two academies in England and Wales.
Helen was educated at the Lycée in London and Collegiate Girls' School, a Leicester grammar school. She won a scholarship to Oxford University and graduated with a first in English Language & Literature in 1970. After university she taught English in Paris for a year and then travelled in India and South East Asia before starting her first job in publishing at Methuen Academic. After two years she left to work for a small start-up publisher, Open Books. In 1977 she moved to William Collins, where she worked for ten years, during which she continued to publish academic titles, but also broadened her publishing to include literary fiction and more general non-fiction. In 1987 she moved to William Heinemann as publisher, and stayed with the Reed Elsevier group for ten years, eventually as Managing Director of Reed Consumer Books.
In 1997 Helen joined Penguin as Managing Director. During her 13 years at the helm there, she signed up diverse authors such as Zadie Smith, Antony Beevor and Jamie Oliver, led Penguin authors to win the Booker, Whitbread and Orange prizes in a single year, and won 'Publisher of the Year' twice. She received a CBE in the New Year Honours list in January 2010, the same month she joined the GDST.
When she joined the GDST as its Chief Executive, Helen put together a new executive team, driving through major changes in the organisation, seeing its financial position improve dramatically, and focusing on highlighting the benefits of girls’ only education. Under her guidance the GDST has recently developed a set of organisational values to go alongside its refocused strategic aims. Still an avid reader, earlier this year, she chaired the judging panel for the 2014 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenFraserGDST
Her blog is http://blog.gdst.net/