Chair, UK India Business Council
Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt is the chair of the UK India Business Council (UKIBC), the premier business-to-business network that works with the British Government to promote bilateral trade between the UK and India.
Patricia had a long and distinguished career in politics and government, including as the longest-serving Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in the last fifty years. In that role, she made India her top international priority, believing – as she said in 2002 – that India was rapidly becoming ‘the world’s most exciting knowledge-driven economy’. She also served in Tony Blair’s government as Cabinet Minister for Women (2001 – 2005) and Secretary of State for Health (2005 – 2007). Between 1997 and 2010, Patricia was Labour MP for Leicester West and continues to have close ties with the city and its large British Asian community.
Patricia is a non-executive director of EuroTunnel, a member of the International Advisory Board of Sutherland Global Services and a senior adviser to FTI Consulting. She was for many years Senior Independent Director of BT, where she chaired the remuneration and pensions committees, and a member of the UK government’s Asia Task Force. She is also a member of the UK India Round Table.
For the last six years, Patricia has been an active supporter of Katha, a‘profit for all’social enterprise that is transforming the lives of children and their families in Delhi’s slums. She chairs the donor consortium established by the British Asian Trust – one of the Prince of Wales’s Trusts – to support Katha’s work.
In October 2014, Patricia was selected by the British Government to receive the first Dadabhai Naoroji award to recognise her contribution to economic ties between the UK and India.
Born in Australia, Patricia took her undergraduate degree at Cambridge University, and has been awarded an MA by both Cambridge and Oxford. She is an Honorary Associate of Newnham College, Cambridge, an Honorary Doctor of De Montfort University and an Honorary Fellow of the London Business School.
Patricia’s husband, William Birtles, has recently retired from a long career as a barrister and senior judge at the Mayor’s and City of London Court. They have a daughter and a son, both in their 20’s. In her spare time, Patricia enjoys reading, music, theatre and gardening. Although her efforts to learn Hindi have not been very successful, she wowed the Vibrant Gujarat summit in January 2013 with her speech in Gujarati!