Celebrating Britain's 101 Most Influential Asians 2021

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© Asian Media Group - 2022

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Sir Suma Chakrabarti


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HE REMAINS the only south Asian civil servant to have reached the top tier of British government in the country’s history.

Sir Suma Chakrabarti may have left government in 2012 as permanent secretary of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), but his reputation as someone who gets things done means he is much sought after.

In July 2020, Sir Suma left the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) after eight years, and two elections, as its president.

He told the GG2 Power List, “Well, I failed to take the advice that everyone gives you that you should take your time and, you know, be choosy, take some months off. So, I’ve ended up doing a lot more than I had bargained for.

But it’s been fun. I’ve been an adviser to the presidents of both Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on economic development, and governance.”

As always, Sir Suma’s role is to observe, ask tough questions, analyse and advise without pulling punches. “I’ve been advising them on issues of strategy and reform on government, on organisational capability, delivery and domestic communications and international branding. And that’s taking up a lot of my time because it has involved quite a bit of travel to both countries.”

When you look at his impressive CV, it is little wonder he was chosen to advise two different heads of state. At 18, Oxford University beckoned, where he read philosophy, politics and economics (PPE). In 1984, he joined the Overseas Development Administration (ODA), which was the predecessor to the now defunct Department for International Development (DfID). He was a senior economic assistant working on macroeconomics issues and UK aid projects. Very soon, Sir Suma would move to the Treasury and the Cabinet Office. His rise was meteoric, and in 2002, aged 42, he became the youngest permanent

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