Rising to speak in the House of Lords for the first time less than six months ago Justin Welby admitted he was "astonished" to be there at all.
But if his enthronement as Bishop of Durham, the fourth most senior role in the Church of England, took him by surprise it would prove to be just one step in a rapid rise.
The choice of the 56-year-old to lead the world's 77 million Anglicans marks a decisive break with the past for the Church.
While his predecessors have drawn on long careers as academics or clerics, his experience is of the world of mammon as much as God.
A former oil executive he gave up a highly paid career after feeling a “call” to the priesthood in the late 1980s.
“Something in me just said ‘this is what you should be doing’,” he recently explained.
...Theologically, he is unashamedly part of the evangelical strand of the Church, upholding a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible than some.
But while he has, for example, publicly criticised the Coalition’s plans for gay marriage, he is not without support among liberals, some of whom believe he will prove a pragmatic and flexible Archbishop.