Sujatha Singh, currently ambassador to Germany, was Tuesday appointed India's next foreign secretary.
An Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer of the 1976 batch, she will take chage Aug 1 and will have a tenure of two years, an official statement said.
Sujatha Singh is the senior-most officer in the IFS. She will succeed Ranjan Mathai, who retires on July 31.
A former high commissioner in Australia, she will be the third woman to head the country's foreign office after Chokila Iyer and Nirupama Rao.
Her name was cleared by the appointments committee of the cabinet.
Sujatha Singh's husband Sanjay Singh was also in the foreign service and retired recently as the Secretary (East).
Sujatha Singh is the daughter of T.V. Rajeshwar, a former chief of the Intelligence Bureau.
There was speculation earlier that S. Jaishankar, India's ambassador to China, could get the top job. He is junior to Sujatha Singh.
In the end, the government decided to go by seniority.