Janice Shiner, 53, director-general for lifelong learning at the DfES, left school at 17 to work in recruitment and financial advertising.
After moving into resource and communication management, she worked for several firms, including WH Smith and Chase Manhattan Bank. She completed a PGCE in 1981, then joined a college to teach management studies. Six years later she rejoined Chase Manhattan as vice-president (human resources) where she was responsible for 900 employees in Bournemouth.
Two years later she returned to FE as vice-principal of Yeovil college in Somerset.
In 1993 she moved to the Further Education Funding Council as senior inspector for the South-west region with national responsibility for management and business studies courses.
Four years later she became the FEFC's director of education and institutions. In June 1999 she was appointed principal of Leicester college, one of England's largest with 26,000 students, 1,500 staff and a budget of pound;30 million.
In January 2002 she became director-general of lifelong learning at the DfES, where she is responsible for further education, adult basic skills, prison education and the department's international agenda.
Lynne Sedgmore, 48, is former principal of Guildford College and took up her new role as director of the Centre for Excellence in Leadership at the beginning of this month.
Ms Sedgmore, who has been principal at Guildford for the past six years, is also a board member of the Surrey learning and skills council.
She is a member of the Bureaucracy Review Group and chaired the FE Success for All National Advisory Group.
She was vice-principal of Croydon college, head of Croydon business school and vice-chair of Croydon health authority.
She has held management, marketing and curriculum posts in further and higher education, is a qualified teacher and has an MSc in Change Agent Skills and Strategies.
She has been a member of the Institute of Directors since 1998 and the Chartered Institute of Marketing since 1989.
In March 2001, Guildford college was the only FE institution listed in the BT 100 index as one of the UK's most visionary companies.
The college has been awarded Investors in People status and the Good Corporation kite mark for its corporate social responsibility.
Ms Sedgmore has three daughters and became a grandmother in June 2003.