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Dido Harding

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CEO, TalkTalk Group

John Penrose (m. 1995)


University of Oxford

Dido Harding

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Full Name
Diana Mary Harding

Alma mater
University of Oxford Harvard Business School

GBP £6,842,000 (total compensation, 2014)

John Charles Harding, 2nd Baron Harding of Petherton

Cool Dawn: My National Velvet

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Talk talk ceo dido harding on the cyber attack newsnight

Diana Mary "Dido" Harding, Baroness Harding of Winscombe (born 9 November 1967) is an English businessperson, the former chief executive of the TalkTalk Group.


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Early life

Dido Harding TalkTalk boss Dido Harding39s utter ignorance is a lesson

Harding is the daughter of Lord Harding, and the grand-daughter of Field Marshal John Harding, 1st Baron Harding of Petherton, who commanded the Desert Rats in World War II. Raised on the family pig farm in Dorset, she was educated at St Antony's Leweston from 1978–85. She then graduated from the University of Oxford in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, where she studied under Vernon Bogdanor and alongside David Cameron; and then at Harvard Business School, gaining an MBA.


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On graduation she joined the management consultancy McKinsey & Company. Leaving to become marketing director at Thomas Cook Group, she was then appointed commercial director at Woolworths Group. She then joined Tesco within Sir Terry Leahy's office as international support director, before being appointed commercial director of “added-value foods” in 2001.

Dido Harding Dido Harding made a Life Peer Magdalen College Oxford

Resigning her position in October 2007, she joined the board of directors at Sainsbury's as convenience director. She was named CEO of TalkTalk in 2010, during the period when the group split its Carphone Warehouse retail operation from the group telecoms operation. She was appointed as a non-executive director on The Court of The Bank of England in July 2014. She has also served on the boards of British Land and Cheltenham Racecourse.

Dido Harding Dido Harding presents TalkTalk Group Q3 Results YouTube

In October 2015, TalkTalk experienced a "significant and sustained cyber-attack", during which personal and banking details of up to four million customers is thought to have been accessed. City A.M. described her responses as "naive", noting that early on when asked if the affected customer data was encrypted or not, she replied: "The awful truth is that I don’t know". Her "inflexible line" on termination fees was also criticised. Marketing ran a headline, "TalkTalk boss Dido Harding's utter ignorance is a lesson to us all". The Evening Standard noted that "It has been a tough week for TalkTalk boss Dido Harding, facing complaints from customers and calls for her head."

In February 2017 Harding announced she would stand down after 7 years as CEO of TalkTalk in May 2017 to focus more on her public service activities.

Honours and awards

She was created a Conservative Life Peer on 15 September 2014, taking the title Baroness Harding of Winscombe, of Nether Compton in the County of Dorset.

Personal life

In October 1995, she married John Penrose, MP for Weston-super-Mare, who was Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport from 2010-2012, and since 2015 is Minister for Constitutional Reform. The couple have two children, and live in London during the week and Somerset at the weekend.

Harding is a horse racing enthusiast. A member of the Jockey Club, in 1993 she borrowed £7,000 from her bank to buy an Irish Thoroughbred hoping to ride it in ladies' point-to-point races. In 1998, her horse Cool Dawn won the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

In February 2013 she was assessed as one of the hundred most powerful women in the UK by Woman's Hour on BBC Radio 4. The honour was repeated the following year, when she was named in the ten most influential women in the BBC Woman's Hour Power List 2014.


  • Dido Harding (8 March 1999). Cool Dawn: My National Velvet. Mainstream Publishing. ISBN 1-84018-179-6. 
  • References

    Dido Harding Wikipedia