Former Google exec Joanna Shields continues rise to stardom within UK politics

Baroness Joanna Shields, a US-born businesswoman who is showing an increasing interest in British politics, was yesterday appointed a parliamentary under secretary of state within the Department of Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS).

Her duties have not yet been spelled out but she will report directly to culture minister Ed Vaizey MP.

The former Google and Facebook executive, who led the Tech City UK organisation through its early years (and now chairs the quango), is also David Cameron's digital advisor and a member of the House of Lords.

She's also one of only two women to sit on the board of the London Stock Exchange.

It's worth noting that Conservative-supporting Shields does not receive payment for any of these positions, suggesting she carved out her fortune while working for Silicon Valley giants in their boom years.

Shields, along with Facebook's Nicola Mendelson, is now perceived by many as one of the most powerful women in the UK technology scene.

But a Techworld source said they were "surprised" by the appointment, adding that she lacks credibility within the tech community.

"I don't know why/for what she was awarded the ministerial post in contrast to say Jim O'Neil [former Goldman Sachs chief economist]," the source continued.

During her tenure as Tech City UK CEO, Shields had mixed success.

While there's no denying she helped to promote London as one of the world's leading technology hubs, the founders of several UK firms spoke out against her when they criticised the Future Fifty scheme she spearheaded.

Tech City UK has also been under the spotlight recently for failing to promote its exceptional talent visa, which enables the very best non-EU entrepreneurs to be fast-tracked to the UK.


Sam Shead

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