The 60-year-old Sheela Balakrishnan, is a native of Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala. She has been a confidante of Jayalalithaa for a long time. Sheela Balakrishnan, the 1976 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer started her career as assistant collector (training) in Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, in 1977. In 1983, she was appointed as the social welfare director. After that she served as the commissioner of industries and commerce fro almost nine years.
Sheela Balakrishnan was the commissioner of fisheries during the period between 1996 and 1998. After that she served as the secretary of the social welfare and nutritious meal programme department in 2000-2001.
She was appointed as transport secretary in 2001. In 2002 she joined the office of the chief minister. During this period Ms Sheela Balakrishnan had won Jayalalithaa’s confidence.
When Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) came into reign, they posted sheela Balakrishnan as commissioner of disciplinary proceedings, Salem, in 2006. After one year, she was posted back to Chennai, to head the Anna Institute of Management.
Sheela Balakrishnan returned to Jayalalithaa’s close circle when the AIADMK supremo took over as chief minister in 2011 and she was appointed as additional chief secretary.
Sheela Balakrishnan retired in March 2014, when she was the chief secretary. While in service, she was one of the most powerful bureaucrat in Tamil Nadu. Everywhere relation between the chief minister and the chief secretary was perfect.
After retirement Sheela Balakrishnan was appointed as adviser to the chief minister. It was from this position that her name came up as a potential Jayalalithaa nominee. However, political analysts said she lacked the political background to become chief minister.