Dame Helen Ghosh read Modern History at St
Hugh’s College, Oxford, from 1973 to 1976 and was a Senior Scholar at
Hertford College, where she completed her MLitt on the cultural history
of sixth-century Italy. She left Oxford to join the Civil Service, where
she worked for 33 years in a variety of government departments,
including the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government,
Cabinet Office, HM Revenue and Customs and the Department for Work and
From 2005 to 2010, Helen was Permanent Secretary at the Department
for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and from 2010, Permanent
Secretary at the Home Office. She was appointed a Dame Commander of the
Bath in the 2008 Birthday Honours. She left the Civil Service in 2012 to
become Director General of the National Trust, and took up her role as
Master of Balliol in April 2018.
While a civil servant, she was particularly interested in social exclusion and urban regeneration policies, and in a variety of local and global environmental issues. She is a member of the Royal Society’s Science Policy Advisory Group, a Visitor of the Ashmolean Museum and a Trustee of the Rhodes Trust.