By some accounts, Rishi Sunak, a 34-year-old Oxford and Stanford graduate, was part of a Conservative Party experiment to increase the ranks of minority politicians in an organisation that is still overwhelmingly white.
And by all accounts, it is an experiment that has worked: On May 8, Sunak won in North Yorkshire’s Richmond—for long a Conservative stronghold—taking a little over 50% of the votes.
For the last 26 years, Richmond, a largely rural constituency, had been represented by Conservative leader William Hague, who resigned as foreign secretary in July 2014 with the intention of eventually leaving politics altogether. So, Sunak, a first-time member of parliament, has some pretty big shoes to fill.
The former Fulbright scholar and one-time Goldman Sachs analyst also happens to be the son-in-law of Infosys co-founder, NR Narayana Murthy.
The son of a doctor with the UK’s National Health Service and a mother who once ran a local chemist shop, Sunak was born in Southampton and attended the elite Winchester College before going to Oxford to read for a degree in philosophy, politics and economics. Sunak then went to business school at Stanford, where he met Murthy’s daughter, Akshata. The two were married at a ceremony in Bangalore in 2009.
In 2010, Sunak, who previously worked at The Children’s Investment Fund, a London-based hedge fund manager, joined Thélème Partners, a private investment outfit. “I co-founded a large investment firm, working with companies from Silicon Valley to Bangalore,” he wrote on his website. “Then I used that experience to help small and entrepreneurial British companies grow successfully.”
But it was his glaring lack of political experience that was questioned by some in the run up to the elections. This is how the Northern Echo, a regional newspaper in North East England, described it:
Few, even within the Conservative Party, will have heard of the 34-year-old before his selection to contest the country’s safest Tory (Conservative) seat. Other than a week’s work experience at Conservative Central Office years ago and the odd day volunteering on the election trail for other candidates, he has not already had a long career with the Tories like other hopefuls…
Despite that, Sunak eventually got the votes—and secured a seat at Westminster.