Before entering the Scottish Parliament as a regional MSP for Glasgow in 1999 she worked as a solicitor in the Drumchapel Law and Money Advice Centre in Glasgow.
She is currently MSP for Glasgow Southside having been, before boundary changes, MSP for Govan between 2007 and 2011.
In government she served as Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing between May 2007 and September 2012 and then Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities with responsibility for government strategy and the constitution until November 2014. Throughout this period she also served as Deputy First Minister of Scotland.
She became SNP Leader on November 14, 2014 and was sworn in as First Minister on November 20, 2014. She lives in Glasgow with her husband Peter Murrell.