The Business On: Baroness Vadera, Former minister

David Prosser@davidprosserind
Tuesday 14 December 2010 01:00

Wasn't she a big cheese under Labour?

Indeed. Shriti Vadera was one of Gordon Brown's closest advisers and served as a minister in two departments: international development and business.

What's she been doing since losing those gigs?

Prospering, mostly. She's picked up consultancy work with Dubai World and Temasek, the Singaporean sovereign wealth fund, and yesterday she was appointed as a non-executive director at miner BHP Billiton.

She's quite a catch then?

Well, not too many people have experience at the top level in both government and finance (Baroness Vadera spent 14 years at investment bank UBS Warburg before moving into politics). Still, she has a certain reputation which might make prospective employers think twice.

Whatever do you mean?

Her nickname in Whitehall was "Shrieky Shriti", reflecting whinges – sotto voce, naturally – from civil servants about her abrasive manner. Such tittle-tattle has been heard in the highest places – WikiLeaks has published cables from the US embassy in London to Washington marking Baroness Vadera out as an influential member of Brown's team. They also revealed: "One private secretary told us Vadera would regularly scream from her desk, 'get me a cup of coffee', with a string of expletives attached."

Those civil servants can be sensitive souls.

True. But Darth Vadera, as others used to call her, did put her foot in it publicly from time to time. Most notably she said she was seeing "green shoots" in the economy at the height of the recession – and on a day when thousands of job losses were announced.

Still, the private sector must rate her highly?

And so they should. Whatever the truth of her office etiquette, her CV is impressive. BHP and the rest are fortunate to have her — let's just hope the coffee is within easy reach at board meetings.

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