Julia Irvine 24 Nov 2017 10:35am

Death of diversity champion and FTSE 100 chair announced

Diversity pioneer Manjit Wolstenholme – one of only three non-white chairs of FTSE 100 companies – has died suddenly at the age of 53

An ICAEW chartered accountant, she also joined the five-strong band of women FTSE 100 chairman when she was appointed executive chairman of Provident Financial in August this year.

Announcing the news this morning, Provident Financial senior independent director Malcolm Le May extended the board’s deepest sympathies to her family and friends. “It was a great privilege to know her personally and to work alongside her over the last few years,” he said.

“She has shown exceptional leadership in stepping up to the role of executive chairman over the last few months.

“Manjit was known and respected for her achievements and championing diversity in British business, and we would like to pay tribute to her contribution to the business landscape.”

Wolstenhome took over at the helm at the troubled sub prime lender after the resignation of chief executive Peter Crook following a failed attempt to restructure its home credit business. She immediately instigated a management shake-up and was in the process of sorting out the division’s failing computer systems.

Before joining Provident’s board in 2007, Wolstenholme worked in investment banking at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and Gleacher Shacklock.

She was also a senior independent director to Unite plc and Futureplc. Paying tribute to her, Future chairman Peter Allen said, "We are all shocked by this tragic news and our thoughts are very much with Manjit's family at this deeply distressing time.

"Manjit has been a tower of strength and support to me and my colleagues, both personally and professionally, for many years."

Phil White, Unite's chairman, said: "This is terribly sad news and our sympathies are with Manjit's family at this difficult time. It was a pleasure working alongside Manjit over the last seven years, and she will be very much missed."

The Provident Financial board has appointed Le May, a fellow ICAEW member and former co-head of banking for Barclays in New York, as interim chairman in her stead.