Dawson has had a long eventful career at Mars, rising from the graduate trainee scheme to one of the top roles in the company. Her leadership roles have included president of global retail and Mars Chocolate UK and European marketing VP.
Her appointment follows on from the arrival as a non-executive director of Evelyn Bourke former CEO of BUPA earlier this year. Dawson will also join the nominations committee at the same time as joining the board.
Archie Norman, M&S, chairman said: “She comes from the Mars school of management and the culture and commercial dynamism that goes with that. She has turned around businesses, run and built factories and understands what is required to drive change.
“As a former president of the IGD, and through leading a major supplier, she knows the UK and global food retail industry better than anyone. She has operated at the cutting edge of consumer marketing and her background is in growing iconic, heritage brands.”
He added: “Fiona has epitomised Mars’ culture of driving growth with a strong moral compass. Her focus on coupling societal change with performance, underpinned by a strong corporate culture, make her a superb fit for M&S”