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Right-hand women and their bosses

Barack Obama & Valerie Jarrett

When Valerie Jarrett, then-deputy chief of staff to the Chicago mayor, interviewed Michelle Robinson for a job, she tried to hire her immediately. But Robinson asked for time to think and invited Jarrett to meet her fiancé, one Barack Obama. The three became friends, Robinson (later Obama) took the job, and Jarrett introduced the couple to the well-connected circle that became instrumental in aiding Obama’s political ambitions. Now Jarrett is assistant to the President for Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs and a key part of his inner circle.

Mark Zuckerberg & Sheryl Sandberg

When Sheryl Sandberg left her job as vice-president for global online sales at Google, Facebook had barely any revenue. Three years on, it is both profitable and highly valuable – and much of the credit lies with Sandberg. Dealing with “everything [Mark Zuckerberg] doesn’t want to”, the chief operating officer’s remit ranges from ad strategy to recruitment.

Tony Blair & Anji Hunter

Once described as “the most influential non-elected person in Downing Street”, Hunter worked for Blair for nine years before he became Prime Minister. When Labour won the 1997 election, she became director of government relations, Blair’s so-called “gatekeeper”, a role she held until 2001, when a post as director of communications at BP lured her away.

Michel Roux Jr & Monica Galetti

When Michel Roux Jr really wants to scare the contestants on MasterChef: The Professionals, he wheels out Monica Galetti, sous-chef at Le Gavroche. His protégée for more than a decade, she was born in Samoa and trained in New Zealand and has impeccable credentials.

Oprah Winfrey & Gayle King

The pair met on a local TV station in the 1980s. In 1999, King joined Winfrey’s magazine, O, as an editor. Now editor-at-large of the publication, she has hosted her own show, The Gayle King Show, on Winfrey’s new OWN network. Close friends, the pair are said to be virtually inseparable.

Independent News Service