Sharon White (businesswoman)

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Sharon White

Sharon White.jpg
Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership
Assumed office
4 February 2020
Preceded byCharlie Mayfield
Chief Executive of Office of Communications
In office
March 2015 – November 2019
Preceded byEd Richards
Second Permanent Secretary of HM Treasury
In office
ChancellorGeorge Osborne
Preceded byTom Scholar
Succeeded byJohn Kingman
Personal details
Sharon Michele White

(1967-04-21) 21 April 1967 (age 52)
East London
Spouse(s)Robert Chote
Alma materFitzwilliam College, Cambridge
University College London

Dame Sharon Michele White DBE (born 21 April 1967) is a senior British businesswoman. She is currently Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, having previously held a variety of roles in the British civil service. She was the Chief Executive of the British media regulator Ofcom from March 2015 to November 2019,[1]and was Second Permanent Secretary at HM Treasury from 2013 to 2015. She was the first black person, and the second woman, to become a Permanent Secretary at the Treasury.

Early life[edit]

White was born in east London and brought up in Leyton where she attended Connaught School for Girls. Her parents emigrated to the UK from Jamaica in the 1950s, when her father was aged 15 and her mother 11.[2] White attended Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, from where she received a BA degree in economics. She later earned an MSc in economics from University College London.[3]


White worked 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. She also worked 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.[4]

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.[2] She was Director General for Public Spending at the Treasury from 2012 to 2013,[4] and then replaced Tom Scholar as Second Permanent Secretary in 2013.[5][3] 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.[5][6]

In November 2014, The Voice named White the 7th most powerful black person in Britain.[7]

In December 2014, it was announced that White would be the chief executive of Ofcom from March 2015,[8] replacing Ed Richards as the previous chief executive and Steve Unger as the interim chief executive.[9]

In June 2019, it was announced that White would be stepping down from her role at Ofcom to replace Sir Charlie Mayfield as the sixth Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership.[10] White succeeded Mayfield during a meeting of the John Lewis Partnership Council on 4 February 2020. It was confirmed that White will be awarded an annual salary of £990,000 for her role at the John Lewis Partnership, a significant increase on her previous salary, which was £341,700 according to data released by Ofcom.[11]

White was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2020 New Year Honours for public service.[12]

Other appointments[edit]

White is a visiting fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford.[3] She took up the role of Non-Executive Director of Barratt Developments on 1 January 2018.[13]


White married the economist Robert Chote at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, in 1997, when she was working at the British embassy and Chote was working for the International Monetary Fund. Chote has been the chairman of the Office of Budget Responsibility since 2010. The media have dubbed them "Mr and Mrs Treasury".[14][15] They have two children.[2]


  1. ^ Sharon White,
  2. ^ a b c John Plunkett, "Sharon White – from Leyton schoolgirl to Ofcom leader", The Guardian, 16 December 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Ms Sharon White. Nuffield College. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  4. ^ a b "HM Treasury appointment",, 14 December 2011.
  5. ^ a b "Sharon White is first woman named Treasury permanent secretary", The Financial Times, 30 October 2013.
  6. ^ "New Second Permanent Secretary, HM Treasury appointed",, 30 October 2013.
  7. ^ Natricia Duncan, "Most powerful black people in Britain revealed", The Voice, 17 November 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  8. ^ "Ofcom Board appoints Sharon White as Chief Executive", Ofcom, 16 December 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  9. ^ Jane Martinson, "Sharon White appointed as chief executive of Ofcom",The Guardian, 16 December 2014. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
  10. ^ Finch, Julia; Waterson, Jim (6 June 2019). "Sharon White leaves Ofcom to join John Lewis Partnership". The Guardian. Guardian News & Media Limited. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  11. ^ Finch, Julia; Waterson, Jim (6 June 2019). "Sharon White leaves Ofcom to join John Lewis Partnership". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  12. ^ "No. 62866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 28 December 2019. p. N8.
  13. ^ "Leadership", Barratt Developments.
  14. ^ Camilla Cavendish, "Mr and Mrs Treasury juggle bedtime stories and Britain plc", The Sunday Times, 3 November 2013.
  15. ^ Steerpike, "Mr and Mrs Treasury", The Spectator, 30 October 2013.
Government offices
Preceded by
Ed Richards
Chief Executive of Ofcom
2015 – 2019
Succeeded by
Jonathan Oxley (interim)
Business positions
Preceded by
Sir Charlie Mayfield
Chairman of John Lewis Partnership
2020 – present

External links[edit]