Alumna brings her expertise back to Exeter

Published on: 2 June 2015

Heather Fairbairn is the Commercial Director of Tickbox.

Heather Fairbairn has had a wonderfully varied business career and is currently the Commercial Director of TickBox.

Started by University of Exeter students, Tickbox aims to make politics relevant and accessible to all, particularly in the current run up to the General Election.

The website has been used by tens of thousands of users and has already been recognised by the likes of Alistair Campbell who said: “TickBox is an excellent tool to help the digital generation understand, and choose, the policies that will shape their future. Because they are the future.”

Heather has 25 years experience of running and financing businesses. She founded and ran a digital health education community interest company and was immediately engaged by the concept of Tickbox.

She explained: “As the mother of a twenty-something son and daughter, I was instantly attracted to the idea of a digital platform which aimed to get young people to vote. It’s energising to work with such a young team.”

Heather graduated from the University of Oxford with a Masters in Agriculture and Forest Sciences and went on to a graduate training course at BP, where she ended up in ship chartering in the Chemicals Division.

In her late twenties she moved to the West Country to combine family life with a taste for entrepreneurship. Her businesses ranged from a large-scale residential development to Newquay Zoo and elderly care in nursing homes through to pioneering domiciliary care services.

Heather went on to create a ground-breaking care village for the elderly, with her husband Iain, which has become a model for combining high quality nursing care with maximum independence through a well-designed, purpose-built environment.

She took a break from business to take a MA in Complementary Health Studies at the University of Exeter, which led her to set up a community interest company to help women through the menopause, she also became a trustee of the Penny Brohn Cancer Care charity.

Since moving to Devon, the Innovation Centre has become a focus of her interests. She has founded or invested in three businesses, including Tickbox, currently based here on the campus. The other business were Wise Goose, who provide training in executive coaching; and Theta Technologies which has developed a wholly innovative, acoustic non-destructive testing technology for engineering industries and is currently commissioned to conduct research for the European Space Agency.

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