Siobhan Benita was a senior civil servant until she resigned this year to run as an independent in the Mayor of London election. She secured around 250,000 votes which was a remarkable achievement for a previously unknown independent with no party machine.
Siobhan devoted a lot of her time in the Civil Service to improving gender equality and in 2010 she founded Tabelle, a network for women working in and with the public sector. Since the election, Siobhan continues to work with many organisations across London. She provides political commentary and analysis on TV, radio and in the printed media and regularly speaks on the need for more women in UK public life.
Siobhan was born in Wimbledon, but now lives in New Malden and is married with two daughters.
Where are you right now?
At home in New Malden.
Where is your favourite place to eat in west London?
I love most food so I am easy to please . We have really good Korean restaurants in New Malden.
Career and children – top tip on how do you do it?
Be flexible – when my daughters were younger I used to do a lot of work from home once they were in bed. This meant I could spend quality time with them after school.
What do you do for ‘me-time’?
I enjoy working out – anything from jogging to pilates – losing myself in a good book and cooking.
If you had to make a quick escape where would you go?
Down to my parents in Cornwall. They have a lovely old farmhouse close to the coastal path near Looe.
What is on your bedside table?
A yoga “bible” (which I haven’t read yet!) hand cream and a hair brush.
..and three things you’d take with you to a desert island?
Family photograph album, sunglasses and a fully loaded Kindle.
Who would you most like to meet for a drink?
Jamie Oliver – I have huge respect for his efforts to improve school meals and the philosophy behind his Fifteen restaurants . He’s an excellent role model.
What is your greatest extravagance?
I recently bought a handmade carpet in Marrakesh – it was a spur of the moment purchase and I’m pretty sure my haggling skills let me down but the souks have that effect on many tourists!
What is your favourite thing to do as a family?
Going on holiday – last summer the four of us spent two weeks on a beautiful island in the Maldives where we snorkeled every day and saw dolphins and baby sharks. I know we’re very lucky to be able to travel somewhere nice once a year.
Siobhan was talking to Annabelle King.