Dame Sharon Michele White DBE is a British businesswoman. She is the current Chair of the John Lewis Partnership and previously held a variety of roles in the Civil Service.
Sharon’s parents emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in the 1950s, she was born April 1967 in east London and brought up in Leyton where she attended Connaught School for Girls. White went on to attend Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, from where she received a BA degree in economics. She later earned an MSc in economics from University College London.
Civil service career
Her first job was working for a church in Birmingham before joining the British civil service in 1989. She worked first at the Treasury and later for the British Embassy in Washington, which was where she met her husband Robert Chote who is also an economist. She returned to the UK to work at the 10 Downing Street policy unit during the Blair government, at the World Bank, and as a director general at the Department for International Development in 2003–09 and then at the Ministry of Justice in 2009–11, and also at the Department for Work and Pensions.
At the Treasury, she supervised a review of the financial management of government and the Treasury’s management response to the international financial crisis of 2007–08. White was Director General for Public Spending at the Treasury from 2012 to 2013, and then became Second Permanent Secretary in 2013. She was the first black person to become a Permanent Secretary at the Treasury, and the second woman after Dame Anne Mueller in the 1980s. In December of the following year, it was announced that White would be the chief executive of Ofcom.
Awards and accolades
In November 2014, The Voice named Dame Sharon White the 7th most powerful black person in Britain. White has been recognised for her influence as one of the most powerful Black British people in the UK on a number of occasions by Powerlist, regularly ranking in the top 10 since the 2016 list including second place in 2019. White was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for her dedication to public service.
Sharon White became the sixth chairman of the John Lewis Partnership in February 2020 and is still holding that role currently, in addition to being a non-executive Board member of Barratt Developments Plc and a Trustee of Sadler’s Wells Trust Ltd.