Sheila Penrose

  • Former President

Global Corporate Bank at Northern Trust

Sheila Penrose


Sheila Penrose is a board member and executive with extensive experience in leadership development and stakeholder management.  Over the last two decades, Penrose has served as an independent director for global companies in the specialty chemicals, secure identity and transactions, financial systems, restaurant, and real estate services industries. Penrose is a recognized authority and advisor on corporate strategy, leadership, and governance, and brings a deep understanding of CEO succession and transition, talent development, and team building.

Career History

Penrose is a Director at McDonald’s Corp, where she chairs the Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility Committee.  She served as Chairman of the Board of JLL Inc. for 15 years and currently chairs the Nominating and Governance Committee.  She also serves as an Executive Advisor to Boston Consulting Group.

A regular speaker on leadership, governance and inclusion, Penrose was a finalist for the Chairman of the Year award by NYSE Governance Services.  She is the recipient of the ADL Woman of Achievement, Girl Scouts Luminary, YWCA Lifetime Achievement, Chicago Business Hall of Fame and Women on Boards awards.

Penrose is Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Corporate Leadership Center, partnering with Fortune 500 companies to augment and accelerate the leadership development of their senior executives through the CEO Perspectives and Leading Women Executives programs.  

Previously, she was a regular attendee and speaker at the World Economic Forum and belonged to WEF’s Community of Corporate Chairmen as a member of its Steering Committee; she also served as an advisor on WEF’s Education, Gender and Work initiative.  Penrose was also a founding member of the US 30% Club, which advances women on corporate boards, and served on the Advisory Board of Catalyst, a leading research organization on women in corporate roles.

As President of the Global Corporate Bank at Northern Trust, Penrose was responsible for clients across 40 countries with investment portfolios of $1.5 trillion.  Profitability of the business increased by an average of 17% annually during her tenure.  She was the first and only woman member of the company’s Management Committee for seven years.

Before moving to the US, Sheila was Economic Advisor at the British Treasury, focusing on budget policy and anti-inflation strategies.  She began her career in education, serving as a Lecturer in Economics at Central London Polytechnic.


With a degree in economics and a post-graduate diploma in education from the University of Birmingham in England, and a master’s degree from the London School of Economics, Penrose attended the Executive Program at Stanford Graduate School of Business.  She later served on the Advisory Boards at Stanford GSB and LSE.  Penrose divides her time between Chicago, Florida, and New York.