The winner of the Tory leadership race will be announced this week, with Liz Truss the favourite to become the next prime minister.
Truss is up against Rishi Sunak to succeed Boris Johnson as PM after he announced his resignation in July.
The 47-year-old, whose backers include Nadine Dorries and Jacob Rees-Mogg, has held many roles in Westminster since starting her political career in 2010 as MP for South West Norfolk, including minister for women and equalities and, most recently, foreign secretary.
Born in Oxford in 1975, Truss has described her parents as 'left-wing' and as a young girl went on marches with her mother to protest against Margaret Thatcher's decision to allow US nuclear warheads to be installed at RAF Greenham Common.
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Her family moved to Scotland when she was four and later to Leeds, where Truss attended state secondary Roundhay School.
She described seeing "children who failed and were let down by low expectations" during her time there – an observation some of her peers disputed and which didn't appear to stop her getting into Oxford University, where she read philosophy, politics and economics at Merton College.
She was active in student politics, initially for the Liberal Democrats, and spoke in favour of abolishing the monarchy at the party's 1994 conference, saying: "We Liberal Democrats believe in opportunity for all. We do not believe people are born to rule."
At Oxford, Truss switched to the Conservatives but it was not until later that she would become an MP, instead having several jobs away from politics at the start of her career.
When she left Oxford, Truss joined Shell as a graduate trainee, where she gained her accountancy qualification.
The scheme reportedly had a focus on "project economics and contract negotiation", and Truss' roles at the company included commercial manager for liquid natural gas shipping, project economics and contract negotiation.
Despite her corporate career taking off, Truss has recalled begging her bosses at Shell for time off so she could attend the Tory party conference.
Flasback to my days as an industrial economist for Shell - as I talk to chief economists about how we appraise projects in the Zero Based Capital Review to grow every part of the UK . #thinkingbig pic.twitter.com/ZYEgks8k8U
— Liz for Leader (@trussliz) July 3, 2019
She has referred to her time at the oil giant later in her career, tweeting in 2019: "Flashback to my days as an industrial economist for Shell – as I talk to chief economists about how we appraise projects in the Zero Based Capital Review to grow every part of the UK."
Cable & Wireless (2000-2005)
In 2000, the same year she married her accountant husband, Truss moved to telecommunications firm Cable & Wireless, which became the first company in the UK to offer an alternative phone service to BT.
She worked there for five years, holding the role of economics director.
From 2008, Truss spent nearly two years as deputy director at right-of-centre thinktank Reform, where she co-authored influential papers on education and economic policy.
Those included the 44-page document 'Back to Black', written in 2009 by six authors including Truss, which suggested that patients should be charged to see their GP.
Reform describes itself as "the leading Westminster thinktank for public service reform", saying it is dedicated to "making our public services better and smarter".
Truss stepped down from Reform to fight the 2010 election, becoming the Conservative MP for South West Norfolk and marking the start of her Westminster career.