October 09, 2006
By Angela Jameson
Christine Morin-Postel was expected only to be a housewife, but her savoir-faire has become a key asset to the boards of Shell and 3i
IT’S AUTUMN and, had things worked out differently, Christine Morin-Postel might have been in Paris, in the Marais perhaps, somewhere chic on the Left Bank, sipping treacle-thick coffee or a glass of rosé. In fact, it’s a wet Monday afternoon in London and Madame Morin-Postel is entirely at home at the Reform Club on Pall Mall, ordering tea and taking it the English way, with milk.
She might have had a very different life, too, that of the content, if well-educated, wife and mother, busying herself with the million and one things that that terrifyingly misleading “job” description entails. In fact, for much of the past 20 years she has, in addition to having a family, played a busy role in British corporate life — from her days in charge of English water companies in Newcastle, Gateshead, Durham and Essex in the 1990s to now, when she sits on the board of two of the most important British corporations — 3i, the venture capital firm, and Shell, the Anglo-Dutch energy giant. Given that record, Madame Morin-Postel’s familiarity with English traditions is hardly surprising.
Yet as a young woman, she had no overwhelming, burning desire to go into business. There were other things to worry about. Aged 22, she finished her studies at the Institut d’Études Politiques in Paris in May 1968 — but the country was in turmoil.