Baroness Shields (Joanna Shields) OBE is a British-American technology industry veteran and parliamentarian who served as UK Minister for Internet Safety and Security and Under-Secretary of State from 2015 to 2017. Previously Digital Advisor to David Cameron, she was made a life Peer in 2014. In 2016, Baroness Shields was appointed the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Internet Crime and Harms.
An early pioneer in digital technology, before joining the government Joanna spent over 25 years building some of the world’s best known technology companies. She took her first role in product marketing at the National Digital Corporation in 1986 while studying for her master’s degree at George Washington University. After completing her MBA, she moved to Silicon Valley and became a product manager at Electronics for Imaging (Efi) where she worked for eight years becoming VP of Production Systems. In 1997, she took on her first CEO role at Veon, developing video streaming technology and leading the company to a successful acquisition by Philips. Post acquisition Joanna became VP International at RealNetworks in London. She then re-joined colleagues from Efi to build Decru, a storage encryption appliance company acquired by NetApp. Joanna then joined Google as MD of syndication network (AdSense) and partnerships in EMEA, growing revenue to over $1 billion and leading technology and content acquisition teams for Google Video (YouTube), Books, Maps and Commerce.
In late 2006, Joanna was recruited to run social networking start-up Bebo. In less than 2 years she grew the network to 50 million users and developed Bebo Originals; an Internet production company that released the BAFTA nominated “Kate Modern”, viewed 85 million times online. Joanna and Bebo and won the Broadcasting Press Guild Innovation Award in 1997 for Outstanding Development in Broadcasting. After engineering Bebo's acquisition for $850 million by Aol in May 2008, Joanna served as President of Aol's newly created People Networks division, overseeing all social and communications products including AIM, Aol Instant Messenger and ICQ. Joanna then joined Facebook as VP MD for EMEA, responsible for building the largest team outside the US and leading the platform developer programme. During her tenure with the company, Facebook grew exponentially, exceeding 1 billion users, filing and completing its initial public offering on NASDAQ.
In 2012, Prime Minister David Cameron asked Joanna to help build the UK into a tech powerhouse and she became CEO and Chair TechCityUK (www.techcityuk.com). Here she catalyzed the digital economy, launching a number of successful initiatives, including TechNation, the Digital Business Academy, Future Fifty and HQ-UK during her tenure. Today London is the tech capital of Europe and the sector contributes over 10% to GDP.
During her time at Downing Street, Joanna led a taskforce established by President Obama and David Cameron to combat online child abuse and exploitation, founding the WePROTECT initiative (www.WeProtect.org), now supported by 63 countries, law enforcement agencies, NGOs, civil society and tech industry leaders. Its mission is to eradicate online child abuse and exploitation. Her responsibilities include combating online extremist recruitment and radicalisation, eradicating harmful online crimes, including child abuse, exploitation and cyber hate, and ensuring safe and open access to the Internet for everyone.
Joanna has served as a Non-Executive Director on several boards including the London Stock Exchange Group, as a Trustee of Save the Children, the NSPCC There 4 Me board and the American School in London.
In May 2016 she was awarded a Doctorate in Public Service, Honoris Causa, from George Washington University, where she received her MBA in 1987.