Douglas Alexander first joined the government after the 2001 general election, when he became minister for e-commerce at the Department of Trade and Industry.
Douglas Alexander's rise in Labour ranks has been relentless
At the time he was the youngest minister and in the reshuffle which followed the resignation of Stephen Byers, he moved closer to the centre of political gravity by becoming minister of state at the Cabinet Office
In June 2003 he was given the role of chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to add to his responsibilities.
He is a professional politician, whose rise in Labour ranks has been relentless, from the moment he started to work as a researcher for Gordon Brown in 1990.
Elected to the safe seat of Paisley South in a 1997 by-election, he is seen as loyal to New Labour - as is his sister Wendy, an MSP.
Favoured by the leadership for his intellect and presentational skills, as campaign co-ordinator in 2001 he played a central role in delivering Labour's second general election victory.
He had been expected to play a similar role in the following election before he was replaced by Alan Milburn in Tony Blair's September 2004 reshuffle.
Mr Alexander became overseas trade minister with responsibilities both to the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign Office.
After the cabinet reshuffle following the 2005 general election he became minister for Europe.