She will take up the role when current chairman Charlie Mayfield steps down in early 2020. Since March 2015, White has been the CEO of Ofcom, the UK’s communications services regulator.
Before joining Ofcom, she was second permanent secretary at the Treasury, responsible for overseeing the public finances and before that she held board level positions at the Ministry of Justice and the Department for International Development.
White is also a non-executive board member of Barratt Developments, the UK FTSE 100 house builder and a trustee of Sadler’s Wells Trust. She is a trained economist and studied at Cambridge University and University College London.
Mayfield said: “Sharon White has had a stellar career in a number of senior strategic and executive roles and during a thorough, wide-ranging and extremely competitive search she stood out, both for me and for the nominations committee, as an exceptional candidate. I believe she has the vision, leadership, drive and flair to steer the Partnership through its next phase.
“I look forward to welcoming Sharon to the Partnership around the turn of the year and to working with her during a thorough handover. I will step down at a time to be confirmed but likely to be in early 2020, depending on Sharon’s start and a handover period.”
Commenting on her appointment, White added: “It is a great honour to be asked to succeed Charlie as the sixth chair of the John Lewis Partnership.
“I am a passionate believer in the Partnership: Partners working together for each other’s well being with the confidence to invest for the long term and a focus on delivering for our customers in a rapidly changing retail environment. John Lewis and Partners and Waitrose and Partners are not merely British retail icons, but also a model of a better way to do business.”