DfT names next second perm sec

Jo Shanmugalingam takes over from permanent secretary Gareth Davies, who moved to trade department last year
Photo: Russell Hart/Alamy Stock Photo

The Department for Transport has named Jo Shanmugalingam, a senior official at the science department, as its second permanent secretary following Gareth Davies’s departure for the Department of International Trade.

Shanmugalingam has been a director general at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy since 2019, moving to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology when BEIS split in February.

She will lead on “a number of high-profile areas” at DfT, including decarbonising transport, according to an announcement last week.

While at BEIS and DSIT, Shanmugalingam worked on policy areas including maximising the value of research and development to the economy and society; support for small businesses; and technology transfer.

She was previously director of corporate effectiveness at the Ministry of Defence and strategy director at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, a jobshare position.

A head and shoulders shot of Jo Shanmugalingam, who has short dark hair and is wearing a white t shirt, black blazer and small gold hoop earringsShe began her civil service career at the Department of Trade and Industry and spent six years at the Shareholder Executive, which has since become UK Government Investments.

Davies, Shanmugalingam’s predecessor as DfT second perm sec, was appointed to the newly created role in January 2022. He moved to the DIT top job in December in a mini-reshuffle prompted by then-prime minister Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision to sack Treasury perm sec Sir Tom Scholar. He succeeded James Bowler, who replaced Scholar at the Treasury.

Davies stayed on as head of the Department for Business and Trade when it replaced DIT in February’s machinery of government changes.

Transport secretary Mark Harper said Shanmugalingam will bring a “wealth of experience from across government departments” to DfT.

“I look forward to working with her to improve transport right across the country, including leading on delivering some of our top ambitions like decarbonisation and levelling up,” he said.

DfT permanent secretary Bernadette Kelly said: “Jo’s appointment is great news for the department – she has demonstrated outstanding skills in leading the government’s work on science and innovation. In this new role, I know she will bring momentum and energy during what is an exciting time for DfT.”

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