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3i’s Wilson doubles FTSE-100 female FD count

The FTSE-100 will bump its piffling count of female finance directors up to a
grand total of two shortly, when Julia Wilson takes the top beancounter job at
the private equity firm 3i.

After three years as deputy finance director, Wilson will join the 3i board
on 1 December as group FD. She will take over responsibility for group finance,
taxation and treasury at the FTSE-100 company – with a market cap of £4bn – from
group FD Simon Ball, who resigned to pursue as-yet unspecified “new challenges”
elsewhere.

Converse to the trend for strategy FDs, Julia’s job will be more of a
plain-vanilla FD role and she will not inherit all the bells and whistles Ball
undertook in addition to the core FD role. Wilson will assume the seats on 3i’s
management and investment committees that Ball occupied, but not his additional
responsibilities for 3i’s communications team, IT, property services and the
company’s Smaller Minority Investments (SMI) team.

“Julia’s main responsibilities will be all of the traditional aspects of a
finance director – performance management, investor relations, tax, treasury and
financial reporting,” a spokesperson for 3i said.
Wilson joined 3i in 2006 from Cable & Wireless where she spent five years,
latterly as group director of corporate finance.

Not as much fuss as might be expected has been made of Julia’s ascent, making
her one of just two female FDs in the FTSE-100 along with Cairn Energy FD Jann
Brown.

Concrete ceiling
Media reports trotted out the government’s annual Sex & Power report
published just before 3i’s announcement, claiming that instead of a glass
ceiling, women looking to ascend into the top jobs were finding a ceiling made
of “reinforced concrete”. The report actually revealed that the proportion of
women in executive and non-executive roles among FTSE-100 companies had
increased in 2008 to 11% having made small increases annually since 2003.

It sometimes seems as if there is a ‘one-in, one-out’ policy on female FDs
operating among UK companies; the only other female FD in the FTSE-100 in 2008
was Lloyds TSB finance director Helen Weir, who moved over to a non-finance role
as Lloyds’ group executive director for UK retail in April – though that’s
because she is being groomed for the chief executive job.

3i chairman Baroness Hogg welcomed the move saying Julia made “an excellent
successor” to Ball.

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