I grew up in North Somerset and was educated at my local school, Nailsea Comprehensive. In 1982 I went to Brasenose College, Oxford and left with a degree in Geography in 1985, and was also awarded two rowing Blues. I was the first person in my family to stay on at school beyond the age of 16 and as a result, I am passionately committed to ensuring all children receive the best possible education that can be provided.
After University I worked for Bank of America for three years and then went to Harvard Business School where I received a Masters in Business Administration in 1990. I then had a business career in the United States and Britain working for McKinsey and Company and Credit Suisse and I also started my own small company offering financial advice for women. I moved with my family to Wiltshire in 2000 when I stopped paid work to bring up our (then) small children but remained actively involved in fundraising for local schools, theatres and hospitals. In 2007 I began working for George Osborne until May 2010 when I was elected as the Member of Parliament for the Devizes Constituency with a majority of more than 13,000 and more than 55 per cent of the vote.
I am delighted and proud to have been re-elected in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections, with an increased majority each time. It is a huge privilege to represent this wonderful place in Westminster, and I will continue to fight hard for the whole Community I represent, regardless of whether you voted for me. My Number One priority is to raise the quality of life for people living and working in the Devizes Constituency and to support the Brexit negotiations to achieve the best possible outcome for us all.
Since being first elected in 2010, I have been a member of the Justice Select Committee, represented Britain at the Council of Europe and been the Parliamentary Aide to the Secretary of State for Defence. I also led a Parliamentary Inquiry conducting a review of Online Child Protection, and in December 2012 I was made Special Advisor to the Prime Minister, David Cameron on Preventing the Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood. I became a Government Whip in 2013 and in July 2014 I was appointed by then Prime Minister, David Cameron to become Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Department for Transport with responsibility for Railways and I served in this role until July 2016.
Following the 2017 General Election, I was called to No. 10 to be offered a new Ministerial job by then Prime Minister Theresa May as the Minister of State in the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department. During my two years as the Minister for Energy and Clean Growth I proudly delivered, amongst other achievements, the Clean Growth Strategy, the Offshore Wind Sector Deal, the Powering Past Coal Alliance and the UK’s bid to host COP26. I was also recently made a Fellow of the Royal Geographic Society. However, at the end of Theresa May’s time in office, in July 2019, I relinquished my Ministerial role so that I could accept the honour of being appointed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson as President of COP26 – the UN Climate Change conference which the UK is hosting with Italy in 2020. COP26 will be a critical summit, with both the full adoption of the Paris Agreement and the date by which countries are expected to come forward with strengthened national action plans.
I am very excited to get stuck into my new role. It is a huge task and important opportunity to demonstrate our global leadership in tackling climate change, and our commitment to end our contribution to emissions by 2050 through the innovation and determination of UK businesses and people, which has seen us lead the world in reducing our emissions while continuing to grow our economy.
Outside of Parliament, I live with my three children in the beautiful heart of the Pewsey Vale and in my free time, I enjoy reading, walking and cycling with my family.