Ready to take charge: Paula Cox was greeted by reporters as she arrived at the PLP delegates’ conference last night. *Photo by Sirkka Huish
Ready to take charge: Paula Cox was greeted by reporters as she arrived at the PLP delegates’ conference last night. *Photo by Sirkka Huish
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Don’t be fooled by Paula Cox’s naturally quiet persona — she is a razor-sharp politician who isn’t afraid to fight for what she believes in, according to those close to her.

It’s no surprise that the married mom-of-one has dedicated her life to politics as she has the same passion for serving her country as her late father, we were told.

It has always been Ms Cox’s aim to follow the same path as her beloved father Eugene Cox, who was Deputy Premier and Finance Minister.

Ms Cox is known to have a strong desire to make Bermuda a better place, even though it might mean stepping on some toes. She is widely admired for her business savvy and legal credentials.

Ms Cox’s friends stress that she is articulate and intelligent with a streak of stubbornness: she won’t stop until she gets a job done.

They describe her as a perfectionist who “plays to win” but always has time to listen to people.

Those who know her say, although she’s a very private person, her reserved nature reflects a “calm, quiet strength”.

Ms Cox is seen as a fair but stern politician whom you don’t want to cross. She is also admired for her keen sense of humour and light-hearted teasing.

Her friends believe it is for these reasons and others that she has been elected to the country’s top job.

Ms Cox has served in four government ministries and is a three-time recipient of the Bermudian magazine’s Bermuda Gold award for the most effective politician.

Former premier Alex Scott said he held Ms Cox in “very high regard,” saying she was “ideally suited to the responsibility ahead”.

He added: “She is a true professional with the highest integrity; she puts a lot of thought into her politics.

“She has a similar temperament to her father; she’s very quiet but she has the ability to speak up and be forceful when the moment arises. She certainly likes to share a laugh, but she can return to being sober the moment it requires.”

Ms Cox comes from a close-knit family and credits her parents for shaping her core values from an early age.

Website posts show she didn’t find it easy being the elder sister of two brothers but she learned to set an example, saying: “I had to learn to ignore my brothers when they tried to provoke me.”

As a child her parents repeatedly told her to “rise above the bait” and this is a belief she continues to follow in the political area.

Ms Cox is an avid bookworm, reading everything from black history, business and international politics to best-selling novels.

She recalls growing up reading whatever book her father had just finished so they could compare notes.

Ms Cox writes: “My mother instilled in me at an early age the merits of being well-read and informed. She encouraged me to study hard, and to absorb everything I could.”

At The Berkeley Institute Ms Cox advanced two grades and graduated early.  She is a keen writer and spent some time working as a journalist at The Royal Gazette.

Ms Cox followed in her father’s footsteps and headed to McGill University. She’s reported as saying she couldn’t follow her father into engineering as it wasn’t her “skill set”.

She went on to study political science, qualified as a solicitor in London and earned a postgraduate diploma in international law at the University of Manchester.

Ms Cox began her political career “from the ground up” — she used to debate and canvas with her father, who she calls a “focused individual who did not toot his own horn”.

In October 1996, at the age of 32, she seized the opportunity to run for Parliament and has held several portfolios over the years.

Ms Cox, who has never learned to drive, was known as one of the closest aides of the late opposition leader L. Frederick Wade, serving as his first shadow parliamentary secretary.

His widow Ianthia Wade said of Ms Cox: “She’s very deep. You need to know her and be around her to understand her.

“She’s the type of person who makes you think and reflect on yourself and your life. She’s very supportive of her friends and helps them to become better people. She’s made a huge sacrifice for politics and she’s willing to carry the country’s struggles on her shoulders.”

Ms Cox has always shared a special bond with her father and he is said to have asked her to consider becoming Finance Minister when he fell ill with cancer.

Ms Cox’s brother Jeremy, a senior executive at the Bermuda Monetary Authority, said it was as if “he felt comfortable leaving the earth knowing she was going to be there”.

Writing about his sister and father, Jeremy Cox is also quoted as saying: “You know the old phrase ‘The student becomes the master.’

“She reached that point, because she just kept learning and learning and learning.”

Mr. Cox told the McGill University newspaper that his sister had a razor sharp mind and the energy needed to run circles around most opponents.

He said he both admired and envied her single-mindedness.

He also admitted that his sister has had to learn to control her temper, saying: “She is quite good at managing her frustration with ignorance.”

Ms Cox herself has admitted that her family has told her not to show her feelings so easily as “she has a certain look that gives me away when I am livid”.

She now takes it as a compliment when someone says they cannot read what she is thinking as she has “finally mastered the mask of inscrutability”.

Ms Cox started a relationship with Germain Nkeuleu, a businessman from Cameroon, when they were both postgraduate students at McGill.

Mr. Nkeuleu loved watching her role-play in class as people always changed their positions after she presented her assessment.

At first, neither of them wanted to emigrate but years later the couple rekindled their relationship and wed in 1999.

Ms Cox, who decided to keep her maiden name for her public life, has written: “History will record that I must have made a lasting impression.”

Mr. Nkeuleu, who is also a very private man, said yesterday in the build-up to the leadership vote, they had lots of things to do as “today is the big day”.

Speaking from their home in Smith’s, he added: “She’s a good wife, a very good wife indeed.”

Ms Cox is said to juggle her busy political, business and personal life with “exceptional organizational skills”.

She loves being a wife and a mother to her school-age son Stefan and says her constituents are also like her family.

She has a close circle of friends who insist she is always there to “tell you like it is”.

Ms Cox enjoys spa days with her friends, where she can relax, as well as “chat and chew”.

She also enjoys retail therapy, naming her favourite store as 27th Century Boutique.

Ms Cox has her own website and also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

She has 470 fans on Facebook but has not posted anything since September 9.

Ms Cox has just nine followers on Twitter and her last Tweet was on August 9, when she wrote: “As we turn the page and prepare (to) open the chapter to a new administration, we will press forward to work in the people’s interests.”