Rita was brought up in Buckinghamshire where her parents ran a local shop until her father died when she was 12. She attended a local grammar school, and got into Cambridge to read Classics.
Throughout her childhood Rita was a keen ballet dancer and also taught dancing until going to university, where she choreographed various productions. She’s still up for a bit of street jazz and zumba, as well as the inevitable yoga.
Rita developed a “childhood crush” on David Attenborough when she became obsessed with The World About Us series on BBC. This has continued in a lifelong interest in the environment and sustainability, and she has served on many boards, commissions and committees for the Government, business and not for profit organisations on sustainability issues.
Her early career was in advertising, during which time she became Vice Chairman and Strategy Director at Saatchi & Saatchi when it was recognised as the largest, most successful and famous agency in the world. She worked on the agency’s highest profile clients, including British Airways, BT, Procter & Gamble, Visa International, Cadbury Schweppes and the British Army amongst many others. Rita also set up the ground breaking Green Unit there in 1988, helping clients develop an effective environmental strategy rather than “greenwash”.
Rita has championed the principle of ‘brand as the central organising principle’ in successful businesses, and has introduced a range of new products and services, from brand futures to internal brand management and digital branding.
In 1997, she was invited to join Interbrand as CEO in London; in 2002 she became Chairman. Interbrand is the world’s leading brand consultancy, pioneer of brand valuation and publishers of the definitive ‘world’s most valuable brands’ league table. During this time Rita championed the principle of ‘brand as the central organising principle’ in successful businesses, and she introduced a range of new products and services, from brand futures to internal brand management and digital branding. In 2013, she became co-founder and chair of BrandCap, the brand consultancy for the boardroom.
Rita has featured on a wide variety of TV and radio programmes on business, brand, marketing and communication issues, including CNN, BBC Breakfast, Channel 4 News, BBC World Service, Sky, Radio 4 Today programme and Radio 5 Live.
In 2016, Rita was engaged by Alibaba.com and CNBC as an Expert Mentor on a new 6 part TV series “Pop up Start up”.
She has been a regular guest on The Bottom Line with Evan Davies, and on Sky News with Jeff Randall. She appeared on the BBC Two series 'Business Nightmares' and also the Steve Jobs documentary 'Billion Dollar Hippy', as well as Any Questions? with Jonathan Dimbleby, Newsnight, the BBC Daily Politics Show and Sky’s “Murnaghan”.
She speaks around the world on how brands are the most important assets any organisation has, in any sector, and why branding should be the central organising principle in any business seeking to generate sustainable value. She also speaks on subjects as diverse as leadership, innovation, corporate reputation and communicating sustainability as well as all aspects of branding and marketing, including personal and nation branding, branding in the digital age and how to build a world class brand. Her writing has included the best selling book 'The Future of Brands', and two editions of The Economist book 'Brands & Branding' (buy on Amazon).
Rita has been a regular contributor, reviewer and columnist in national and international press and magazines including the Financial Times, Management Today, The Observer, Retail Week, Admap and Marketing Week.
In addition to speaking and writing about brands, Rita’s portfolio of chairing and non-executive directorship roles, include Ascential, Bupa, Nationwide, ASOS and Populus (the opinion pollster to The Times and reputation research consultancy). Her pro bono activities include the boards of WWF, The Henley Festival and Chair of the leading practical sustainability organisation, The Conservation Volunteers.
She has worked with Sir Jonathon Porritt for many years on environmental and sustainability issues, including as a member of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission and the Assurance and Advisory Board for BP's carbon offset programme 'targetneutral'. Rita has been on the Advisory Board at the Judge Business School at Cambridge University and in 2006 was appointed Visiting Professor at Henley Management College.
During 2009 she was made President of the Market Research Society, and is a Fellow of the Marketing Society and the Royal Society of Arts. She was also invited to join the Speaker’s Council for the Public Engagement in Parliament, which looks at promoting understanding of, and engagement in, democracy.
Rita has been voted one of the 75 Women of Achievement in the fields of advertising, media and marketing over the past 75 years, has been named in the Power 100 list by Marketing magazine, and shortlisted for the Credit Suisse Outstanding Business Woman of the Year.
Rita has been recognised in the Debrett’s 2015 list as one of Britain’s 500 most influential people.
In 2014 Rita was awarded a CBE in the New Year’s Honours List for Services to the Advertising Industry.
Last but certainly not least, Rita has two daughters.