Joanna Shields, Baroness Shields

The Right Honourable
The Baroness Shields

Baroness Shields in 2014
Under-Secretary of State
Minister for Internet Safety & Security
Assumed office
14 May 2015
Monarch Elizabeth II
Prime Minister Theresa May
David Cameron
Preceded by New Position in 2015
Personal details
Born (1962-07-12) 12 July 1962
St. Marys, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Political party Conservative
Spouse(s) Married
Children 1
Residence London, UK
Alma mater The Pennsylvania State University 1984, Bachelor of Science.
The George Washington University 1987, Master’s of Business Administration; and, Doctorate in Public Service, Honoris Causa, May 2016
Occupation Technology industry executive, parliamentarian & founder of

Joanna Shields, Baroness Shields, OBE (born 12 July 1962) is an Anglo-American technology executive and Life Peer in the House of Lords. On 13 May 2015, she was appointed as the UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security in the Conservative Government serving as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for both the UK Home Office and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport after the 2015 General Election.[1][2][3][4] In July 2016, she was reappointed to her post by Prime Minister Theresa May. Baroness Shields served as Digital Advisor to David Cameron and as Chairman of Tech City UK, the government’s initiative to catalyze the growth of the technology industry across the UK.[5] She also served as a non-executive director of the London Stock Exchange Group until 19 May 2015.[6]

Before joining the government, Shields spent over 25 years building some of the world's best-known technology companies, including Electronics for Imaging, RealNetworks, Google, Aol and Facebook, as well as leading several start-ups to successful acquisitions, including Bebo, Decru and Veon.

Her most recent position in the technology industry was Vice-President and managing director of Facebook in Europe, Middle East and Africa, where she presided over the growth of international presence to over 1billion users. Prior to Facebook she served as President of People Networks at Aol, a position she assumed after the acquisition of Bebo by Time Warner's Aol unit. At Bebo, Shields was CEO, leading the company's growth to 50M users and eventual acquisition for $850 million.[7] Before Bebo she was an early employee of Google international operations and served as managing director of syndication and partnerships for Europe, Russia, Middle East & Africa.

Industry Recognition

Shields was ranked No. 1 on the Wired 100 in 2011[8] and No. 6 in the MediaGuardian 100 in 2012.[9] In February 2013 she was named to the list of the 100 most powerful women in the United Kingdom by BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour.[10] In July 2013 Computer Weekly named Shields the Most Influential Woman in UK IT.[11] In July 2013 she received the British Interactive Media Association's Lifetime Achievement Award.[12]

Career History

Shields in 2011

In 1984 as a graduate business student, Shields worked part-time at the National Affairs Office of Deloitte in Washington, D.C. Shields was assigned the task of writing a business plan for a start-up called NDC (National Digital Corporation), an early pioneer in the transmission and archival of digital media that was acquired by Gruner & Jahr. During her time there she became convinced that digital technology was going to change the way we live our lives and interact with each other.

While at NDC, Shields met Israeli entrepreneur and founder of Scitex, Efi Arazi, who had formed a new venture called Efi (Electronics for Imaging, Nasdaq:EFII). In 1989 she moved to Silicon Valley and joined the company, where she began working as a product manager and over the course of eight years rose through the ranks to become VP of Production Systems, a division that designed, built and manufactured ASICs, embedded controllers and servers that connected digital printing systems to networks from companies such as HP, Canon, Ricoh, Minolta, Fuji Xerox and Kodak.

In 1997 Shields became CEO of Veon, an interactive video technology company whose intellectual property included patents for adding interactive links to video streams that became part of the MPEG4 streaming video standard. Philips acquired Veon in 2000. After closing the Veon transaction, Shields was hired by the company that invented streaming audio and video, RealNetworks, to run its businesses outside the United States.[13]

Shields briefly joined former Efi CEO and colleague, Dan Avida, to build the business of a storage encryption company he founded called Decru, where she played an instrumental role in forming a partnership with Network Appliance, the company that eventually acquired Decru for $272m.[14]

Shields then became a managing director for Google Europe, Middle East and Africa where she was responsible for developing the company's advertising syndication business, AdSense, and for the acquisition of content and partnerships for such products such as Google Mail, Video (before the YouTube acquisition), Maps, Local, News and Books.

In late 2006 Shields was approached by Benchmark Capital to run social networking startup Bebo.[15] At Bebo, Shields introduced Open Media, opening Bebo's platform for media companies to reach its 50M user base and enabling media owners to monetise their content,[16] and Bebo Originals, a series of original online shows.[17] The first Bebo Original KateModern was viewed 85M times, was nominated for two BAFTA awards[18] and won the Broadcasting Press Guild Innovation Award for Outstanding Development in Broadcasting.[19]

After engineering Bebo's acquisition for $850m by Aol in May 2008, Shields briefly relocated to New York City to head Aol's newly created People Networks, overseeing the company's social and communications assets including AIM, Aol Instant Messenger and ICQ. Bebo's development continued under Shields with the release of Timeline in 2009, the first social network to organise and represent life events in a linear way.[20] Timeline eventually became standard on social networks when Facebook released the feature in 2012.[21]

In 2009 Shields was recruited by former Google colleague Sheryl Sandberg to run Facebook in Europe, Middle East & Africa as VP & managing director.[22] In her role she built EMEA into the company's largest region, focusing on making Facebook the world's most valuable marketing, communications and customer services platform for brands and leveraging Facebook's Open Graph as a growth engine for some of Europe's hottest startups and established businesses.[23]

Government Work

In October 2012 Shields was recruited by Prime Minister Cameron to lead HM Government's Tech City initiative and become the UK's Ambassador for Digital Industries.[24] During her time at Tech City, she worked with the London Stock Exchange to launch the new high growth segment[25] and created Future Fifty, a programme to identify the 50 fastest growing businesses and support them on the path to an IPO. Future Fifty was launched by the Chancellor George Osborne in April 2013.[26] Shields is also involved in promoting the policies and conditions that foster entrepreneurship across the EU and, along with eight other leading EU entrepreneurs, launched the EU Startup Manifesto,[27] which aims to transform the European Union into a startup-friendly region.

Shields was appointed the Prime Minister’s Adviser on the Digital Economy in Summer of 2014 and she served in that role until the May 2015 General Election when David Cameron appointed Baroness Shields a Minister in the newly elected majority government. She now serves as Under Secretary of State, Minister for Internet Safety & Security. [28][29] In July, 2016 she was reappointed to her post by Prime Minister Theresa May.

She serves the government in the following positions:

Founder and Member, WeProtect Global Alliance - End Child Sexual Exploitation Online (formerly US/UK Taskforce to combat child online abuse and exploitation)

Co-Chair, UK Council for Child Internet Safety

Member, Child Protection Implementation Taskforce

Member, Tackling Extremism in Communities Implementation Taskforce

Member, Inter-Ministerial Group on Violence Against Women and Girls

Member, Inter-Ministerial Group on Child Sexual Abuse

Profile on

Government Honours

Shields was appointed OBE in the 2014 New Year Honours List for "services to digital industries and voluntary service to young people".[30] After being nominated as a working peeress in August 2014,[31] Shields was elevated to the peerage on 16 September 2014 taking the title Baroness Shields, of Maida Vale in the City of Westminster.[32] Government Focus – To make the internet safer by tackling online child abuse, exploitation and access to harmful content. To help combat online radicalisation and counter extremism and to promote informed digital citizenship.[33] Spoken material to date:

Founding of WeProtect

On 22 July 2013, the Prime Minister David Cameron made a speech regarding the proliferation and accessibility of child abuse images on the Internet and about cracking down on online pornography.[34] The Prime Minister announced that a new UK-US taskforce would be created to lead a global alliance of the biggest Internet companies to tackle indecent images of children online. Joanna Shields would head up this initiative, working with UK and US governments and law enforcement agencies and with industry to maximise the international efforts. In April 2014 she founded WePROTECT is a global alliance led by the UK government and supported by over 50 countries, 20 technology companies and NGOs to stop the global crime of online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

In April 2014, Shields founded WePROTECT, an initiative designed to engage Internet companies in the development of technology aimed to combat online child abuse and exploitation . In December 2014, David Cameron convened the first WePROTECT global summit in London. This summit and a second hosted in Abu Dhabi by the Interior Ministry of the United Arab Emirates have unified a global multi-stakeholder coalition in commitment to Statements of Action I & II. Shields opened the UAE Summit as keynote speaker on November 2015[35] and at the United Nations launch of the End Violence Against Children Global Partnership & WePROTECT Initiative Fund in New York, July 2016.

WePROTECT has grown to be a global alliance supported by over 70 countries, 20 technology companies and NGOs to stop the global crime of online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Board Service & Affiliations

Shields also served on several boards as trustee, including Save the Children, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC, There4Me board, The American School in London, and as a non-executive director on the board of the London Stock Exchange Group and on Mayor Boris Johnson's London Smart Board.[36] She also served on the EU Web Entrepreneurs Leaders' Club[37] established by then EU Commissioner and Vice-President, Neelie Kroes.[38]

Personal life

Shields was born in St. Marys, Pennsylvania, the second of five children.[39] She graduated as BS from Penn State University, where she was a member of Chi Omega sorority,[40] and did her post-grad studies as MBA from George Washington University.[41] Shields received a Doctorate in Public Service, Honoris Causa, from George Washington University May 2016.

Honours and Awards


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  30. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60728. p. 14. 31 December 2013.
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  32. The London Gazette: no. 60994. p. 18358. 22 September 2014.
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  38. EC Audiovisual Service – Photo. Retrieved on 4 November 2015.
  39. De Vita, Emma (1 May 2008). "The MT Interview: Joanna Shields". Management Today. Retrieved 8 September 2011.
  40. "Joanna Shields: Baroness and Business Woman". Chi Omega. Retrieved 26 June 2015.
  41. "CrunchBase | Joanna Shields". CrunchBase. TechCrunch. Retrieved 13 September 2011.
  42. Retrieved on 4 November 2015.
  43. , Retrieved on 10 November 2016
  44. , Retrieved on 10 November 2016
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