She was born in Uganda in 1962 into a family of Indian origin.
Her family owned a small tea plantation but fled to India in 1972 following the Ugandan government's expulsion of Ugandan Asians, and then later to the UK. She was educated at Northwood College before taking a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Somerville College, Oxford.
Private sector career
For over 14 years Vadera was employed at investment bank UBS Warburg, where her work included advising governments of developing countries, and debt relief and restructuring. She also played a role in the partial privatisation of South African Telecom.