Woman tipped to be next boss of M&S taking maternity leave at 50
The woman rumoured to become the next boss of British retailer M&S has announced that she is taking maternity leave in order to have her first child at the age of 50.
Laura Wade-Gery's maternity leave was announced today at the stock exchange in the City of London, in an effort to keep investors in the loop.
However, Ms Wade-Gery will not be absent for long and has promised to be back in work within a mere four months of giving birth.
It is the first time in M&S's history that a female executive is in line to run the retail business.
In 2011 Ms Wade-Gery was poached by M&S from Tesco with more than £2.1million in cash and shares, and is seen by many as the heir apparent to current M&S boss Marc Bolland.
The executive director, who overhauled the M&S much-maligned website, will leave to have her baby on September 1 2015, and will return to work in January 2016.
Stock exchange rules demand that investors must be told if company directors are taking annual leave greater than a typical three-week holiday.
In her personal life, Ms Wade-Gery enjoys walking and running, as well as driving the tractor on her farm.
Raising money for cancer charities in a series of running and cycling challenges, she once 'barely broke a sweat' as she won the Tesco 5km challenge.
Her work life has been similarly successful.
After a series of senior business roles she joined Tesco in 1997 - and within 15 years was on the board and running its online operation.
M&S then paid a large amount to convince her to move across to overhaul their website.
Ms. Wade-Gery has spoken widely about the lack of women at the top of British business, and has said quotas may be needed to redress the imbalance.
She said that she thinks that every business benefits from a diverse set of personalities.
'It isn't just true of gender, it is true of any minority, that actually the dominant group doesn't know it is behaving in a way that is its world view," she said.