Emma Gilthorpe - Business in the Community
Emma Gilthorpe smiling at the camera.

Emma Gilthorpe

Chief Executive

Royal Mail
Business in the Community Leadership Council

Emma Gilthorpe was appointed Chief Executive of Royal Mail in May 2024, following nearly 15 years on the executive team at Heathrow Airport. 

Most recently as Chief Operating Officer of Heathrow Airport, she navigated the business through the pandemic, ensuring Britain’s hub airport maintained vital international connectivity for passengers and cargo during a rapid downturn in the aviation market, driving operating costs down by a third to help stabilise the business. She then rapidly scaled up operational capability, to serve a fourfold ramp up in passenger demand in just 18 months, whilst driving up service levels. Emma has long championed putting colleagues at the heart of decision making and placed great emphasis on building productive stakeholder relationships. 

Emma led a wide variety of other teams at Heathrow, having joined in 2009. She established the Expansion Programme, a £30bn 25-year project to significantly increase airport capacity whilst delivering binding commitments to reduce aircraft noise, improve public transport and local air quality, and cut carbon emissions. The enabling policy received overwhelming cross-party political support and unprecedented buy-in from communities, business groups, trades unions and local authorities. Prior to this she headed teams across Strategy, Regulation, Planning, Sustainability and Capital Programme delivery, always with a focus on driving shareholder value and creating environments where colleagues and communities can thrive. 

Before aviation Emma worked in the telecoms sector across a range of strategic, policy and commercial roles, including campaigning for the creation of Openreach at arms-length from BT, to drive greater competition and improved consumer outcomes. 

Until April 2024 Emma was the CEO of the Jet Zero Council, a part time pro bono role, jointly appointed by the Secretaries of State for Transport and Business, to drive action towards decarbonising the aviation sector, helping to meet the Government’s Net Zero by 2050 goal. 

She says: “Royal Mail is proud of our long-standing partnership with Business in the Community (BITC).  As one of the largest UK employers with around 130,000 colleagues, we are pleased to play a part advocating for responsible business.  We have been involved in some fantastic BITC led programmes including mentoring circles, social mobility and diversity initiatives and the Prince’s ‘Seeing is Believing’ visits, and I look forward to playing an active role in the BITC Leadership Council.”