Sharma was born in Agra, India, but moved to Reading with his parents when he was five years old and had a Hinduupbringing. His father Prem was involved in Conservative politics in Reading and became chairman of the Berkshirearea of Conservatives and helped establish the Conservative Parliamentary Friends of India. Sharma was raised in the Reading suburbs of Earley and Whitley Wood and attended Presentation College, Reading Blue Coat School in Sonning and the University of Salford, from where he graduated with a BSc in Applied Physics with Electronics in 1988.
Sharma subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant, training with Deloitte Haskins & Sells in Manchester before moving into corporate finance advisory with Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, where he held senior roles based in London, Stockholm and Frankfurt. Sharma was an adviser to clients in the corporate and private-equity sector on cross-border mergers and acquisitions, listings and restructurings.
Sharma is a governor of a local primary school in Reading. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Previously he served as a chairman of the political think-tank the Bow Group's economic affairs committee.