Minister for Business, Innovation and Skills in the UK's coalition Government of 2010-2015, UK
An MP at 25, and a Business Minister in the Coalition Government of 2010-2015 aged 32, Jo Swinson wasted no time in shaking up the political establishment. Her passion for improving the world of work saw her battle to extend flexible working, and introduce landmark legislation to allow couples to choose how to share parental leave. Jo recognises the complexity of the productivity challenge in the UK, and she continues to work with business leaders to promote employee engagement, employee ownership, and workplace wellbeing.
For almost a decade, Jo has been a thought-leader in the field of wellbeing and public policy. She was a leading voice in the successful campaign to measure the country’s wellbeing alongside the GDP figures. A digital pioneer, Jo was one of the first MPs to use Twitter and served as Vice Chair of the Prime Minister’s Digital Taskforce. Now a Director of award-winning data intelligence company Clear Returns, Jo speaks with authority (and without jargon) about the challenges and opportunities of the digital age.
An inspiring role model for young women, Jo secured Government support for gender pay transparency in large companies. She highlighted the problem of body image pressure affecting young people, especially girls, and co-founded the Campaign for Body Confidence, working with the fashion, media and advertising industries to drive change. Jo was one of the first Government Ministers to have a baby and take maternity leave while in office. Jo’s husband, Duncan Hames, made history as the first MP to carry a baby (their son Andrew) through the voting lobby of the House of Commons.
A champion for consumers, Jo led a crackdown on unscrupulous payday lenders and introduced new powers to tackle rogue traders. She is the architect of the Consumer Rights Act which for the first time gives consumers protection when buying digital content.
For 10 years the MP for East Dunbartonshire in the west of Scotland, Jo was one of the key voices advocating for Scotland staying in the UK at the independence referendum. Combined with her experience at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, she is well placed to talk about the future uncertainties of the EU referendum, possible Brexit and a second Scottish referendum. When she’s not working, you can find Jo running (she finished the 2011 London Marathon in under 4 hours) or hiking up a mountain in her native Scotland.
Jo’s work has taken her from the dusty heat of Sierra Leone to the ice caves of Svalbard, from investigating human rights abuses in Chechnya to training women MPs in Iraq. She has spoken at the United Nations and the OECD, and appeared on programmes as varied as Question Time and Blue Peter.
Jo’s earliest forays into politics was in the Debating Society at Douglas Academy in Milngavie, but leading her school Young Enterprise company to the Scottish finals gave Jo a taste for business and she gained a First Class degree in Management from the London School of Economics.
Marketing roles followed at Yorkshire radio station Viking FM and fast-growing media company Space and People, before the lure of politics saw Jo elected as the Lib Dem MP for her home seat of East Dunbartonshire in 2005, becoming the “Baby of the House”.