Penelope Cooper, St James’s 1971 Leaver
In 1977 her late father-in-law died and her husband inherited Hagley Hall and estate in North Worcestershire. The hall was opened to the public and listed rural buildings converted to workshops, offices and flats and Penny developed an extensive corporate and private entertaining business in the house. In 1987 she was appointed to the board of the English Tourist Board, followed by membership of the boards of English Heritage, Historic Royal Palaces, the Museums and Galleries Commission and the Countryside Commission. In 1992 she served as a Special Advisor to the Culture Secretary and subsequently, inter alia, joined the board of the V&A, the London Docklands Development Corporation and British Waterways. In 1999 she became Chairman of the British Casino Association, taking the private sector through the passage through Westminster and Whitehall of the 2005 Gambling Act. Also working in the private sector she has been an advisor to Citi Private Bank, Farrer & Co and EY.
Having been Deputy Chairman of VisitBritain since 2005, in 2009 she became Chairman of VisitEngland, the national tourist board. She chaired the board through the period of the Olympics, the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta and the Rugby World Cup. Her second period of appointment finished in 2017, she was recruited as the Director General of The 5% Club, founded by Leo Quinn, CEO of Balfour Beatty. Their 350 members all aspire to 5% of their workforce to be apprentices or in other “earn and learn” places. She is an advisory board member of Urban Legacies and sits on the board of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust. She chairs the Museum Prize Trust, developing a Prize for Enterprise with support from Google and continues, since 1985, to sit on the board of Historic Houses to which most privately owned important houses belong. Since 1994 she has been President of the Birmingham based Women of the Year lunch and awards Ltd.