Suma Chakravarti,42 has won the distinction of becoming Britain's youngest ever Permanent Secretary.
Described as "bright and personable" by the British press, Chakrabarti, who is the first Asian
to reach such a level in the British Government has had a high-flying civil service career,
moving swiftly through the ranks to his present position. His ability was spotted by Downing Street
talent scouts in 1987, shortly after the Labour Government rose to power and there's been no looking
back for him since.
Mr Chakrabarti was born in Jalpaiguri, a small town in Bengal, and spent his first five years
in Calcutta, has risen swiftly through the Civil Service ranks and is a breath of fresh air
Spotted by Downing Street talent scouts soon after Labour won power in 1997,
Mr Chakrabarti was quickly appointed from the Treasury to set up the Prime Minister’s Performance
and Innovation Unit in the Cabinet Office.
Like many of his peers he went to an independent school — City of London — and then Oxford to study
PPE, but Mr Chakrabarti is keen to challenge the working practices of the archetypal mandarin. Fellow
Oxonian, Prime Minister Blair has indicated his satisfaction with Chakrabarti's "work-life balance".
"Mr Chakrabarti is an extremely talented civil servant," the spokesman said. "Everybody in the public
sector and the private sector recognizes that the work-life balance is important. I don't think the
indicator of performance is necessarily the time you spend in the office with your jacket over the back
of the chair - it is what you deliver. We're confident he's the right man for the job."
Julie Mellor, Chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission put it very succinctly, saying,
"By practicing what he preaches, Suma Chakrabarti is sending out a strong message that success doesn't
have to mean silly hours."