She started her career in the gas business, working for British Gas and then Hess Corporation, before setting up her own company specialising in the turnaround and sale of energy companies. After a couple of years she took a gap year and travelled to a number of developing countries, and felt drawn to international development. “My own family has a lot of blindness, so the mission of Sightsavers really resonated for me,” she explains.
“When I joined the organisation in 2005 it was well respected, but not particularly well known outside of the blindness community. My vision has been to ensure it is respected as a leading organisation more widely in development, to reach more people and increase our influence.
“It is important to look at how eye health fits within a developing health system, and we have become a major player in the field of neglected tropical diseases, several of which cause blindness. In our advocacy work, we believe that to support blind people you need to talk about this in the context of disability if you want to engage governments.”
Caroline has a PhD in energy studies from the University of Cambridge. In 2000 she was awarded an OBE for services to the gas industry, and in 2015 she received a CBE for services to people with visual impairments. She has an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Bristol.
Under her leadership, Sightsavers has expanded significantly, treating millions of people and advocating for policy reforms around the world.
In 2022, the gross annual salary of our CEO was £167,196. She has no bonus scheme or car allowance, and receives the same pension rights as all other staff in the UK office.
In April 2018, Caroline spoke at TED’s annual conference in Vancouver, urging philanthropists to help Sightsavers eliminate blinding trachoma.More about the talk
To coincide with International Women's Day, we asked our CEO, Caroline Harper, a few questions about her career at Sightsavers.
Sightsavers’ CEO was recognised for her work to help eliminate trachoma by transforming the way funding is secured.
Dr Caroline Harper's TED Talk, in which she laid out an ambitious plan to eliminate trachoma, has been chosen as the day’s top pick.
During her talk at the TED conference in Vancouver, Caroline Harper urged philanthropists to support a new project that could help to eliminate the disease.
Sightsavers CEO Dr Caroline Harper visited Sierra Leone to see how health workers have coped since the Ebola virus.
Dr Harper has been appointed a CBE in recognition of her services to people with visual impairments around the world.