Sunday, May 17, 2015

Leaning in

The conversations around the watercooler on the 4th floor of 100 Parliament Street will be livelier this Parliament, thanks to the arrival at the DCMS of 'Hurricane' Joanne Shields, otherwise Baroness Shields of Maida Vale.

The Anglo-American Baroness, ennobled last year, is nominally expected to major in internet security, but her cv developed in the UK over 15 years has provided her contacts and friendships with many movers and shakers in the tv world.

She came to the UK as single mum to run the European end of the pioneer streaming business, RealNetworks. Then she moved to Bebo, and, before preparing it for sell-off, commissioned a bundle of content, including interactive drama KateModern, set in the East End, and packed with product placement. There followed a joint venture with Elisabeth Murdoch, with her Shine TV hat. But a call came from Facebook, possibly via Joanne's friend Sheryl Sandberg, to build the business's EMEA operations. (It is probably the company's IPO which means she can afford to work unpaid for David Cameron.). Thence to Google Europe, and a gig running Tech City, now bundled with a fistful of prime non-executive roles.

She became a UK citizen in the first wave of the exam system, and married her second husband, Andy Stevenson, in 2008. Andy had worked for Eddie Jordan racing since 1987, initially as engineer in Formula 3, on the back half of the car, as part of a duo nicknamed the Angry Brothers. He's risen with Jordan, which has mutated into Sahara Force India One, where he is now Sporting Director for the team, still headquartered at Silverstone.

There is some suggestion that Joanne and Andy were introduced by Eddie at Annabel's.  Invited to the wedding were Alex Mahon, formerly of Shine; Gadget Shop entrepreneur Bill Gorman; former Sky executive James Baker, and the ubiquitous Piers Morgan and Celia Walden.

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