Girls’ schools chain appoints advertising executive as its next leader

Cheryl Giovannoni, who worked for the agency famous for promoting Dove soap and Barbie, will take over as chief executive of the Girls’ Day School Trust

A prominent chain of girls’ schools has appointed the former head of a leading advertising agency as its new chief executive.

Cheryl Giovannoni, whose most recent role was chief executive of Ogilvy and Mather, will take the helm of the Girls’ Day School Trust in September.

Over the past 60 years, Ogilvy and Mather has been responsible for many high-profile campaigns, including one for Dove soap – which promoted a more relastic body image for women – and another for Barbie dolls.

Ms Giovannoni will now oversee the operation of the GDST’s 24 fee-charging schools, and two state-funded academies.

She is stepping into the shoes of Helen Fraser, who is retiring in August after seven years at the trust.

The group, which was founded in 1872, educates 20,000 students and employs 3,700 staff.

Ms Giovannoni is taking on the role as the debate over the benefits and disadvantages of single sex education continues to rage.

While critics claim it is an outdated approach that does not prepare pupils for the real world, supporters say it is more vital than ever to give pupils the confidence they need to succeed.

Juliet Humphries, chairman of the GDST, said: “Cheryl brings very current and relevant experience from the world of business and the trustees were impressed by her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to girls’ only education. “Throughout her career Cheryl has taken a keen interest in encouraging gender equality and we are very much looking forward to welcoming her to the GDST.”

Ms Giovannoni said: “I am honoured to take up the role of CEO of an organisation which leads girls’ education. It has been a long held ambition to help women achieve their true potential, and the GDST is a fitting place for me to continue to do what I can to inspire future generations of girls to be their very best.”

Cheryl Giovannoni was born and brought up in South Africa and has a BA in English, communication and psychology from the University of South Africa.

She is also a non-executive director of Fearless Futures, a charity promoting equality through a programme in schools.

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