Her life story got a sketchy outline in her husband’s presidential announcement speech, but when they first joined forces, Heidi Cruz was as involved in Republican politics as Ted.

In his speech Monday announcing his candidacy, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recounted his wife’s childhood where she spent time in Africa with her missionary parents and, as a grade schooler, started a bread-baking venture with her brother. He mentioned her reaching “the highest pinnacles” in a business career.

“And then Heidi becomes my wife and my very best friend in the world. Heidi becomes an incredible mom to our two precious little girls,” he said. The couple’s daughters, Catherine and Caroline, are ages 4 and 6, respectively.

Heidi Cruz is also a managing director at Goldman Sachs, the investment firm she joined in 2005. She runs the Houston wealth management unit, which handles portfolios for clients with an average net worth of $40 million.

Cruz, 42, will take an unpaid leave of absence from the firm for the duration of her husband’s campaign, Goldman spokeswoman Andrea Raphael said Monday.

Before she joined Goldman, Heidi Cruz was half of a Washington power couple, working for the Bush administration.

In fact, she met her husband when the two were working on George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign.

Cruz initially turned down a job with Goldman after finishing Harvard Business School (she also has a graduate degree in business from a Belgian university) in favor of the Bush campaign, where she worked on the candidate’s economic policy. After Bush’s victory, Cruz won plum jobs with the United States trade representative and with Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council.

In 2004, she left Washington for Houston so her husband could pursue elective office in Texas.

Ted Cruz has praised his wife for being willing to put all the couple’s savings — $1.2 million — into his 2012 Senate campaign. But Heidi Cruz said in a 2013 interview with The New York Times that she first made him agree to raise money to show that others supported him — and that their money would be put in only if he had a real shot.

“I’m not dumb,” she said. “I need to see that other people support you. … If at the last minute, if it’s the difference of win or lose, I’m all in.”

“She’ll play very well” in the campaign, says Mark Jones, chairman of the political science department at Rice University in Houston. “She’s a professional, independent-thinking woman who has had a very successful career. She’s nothing but an asset for Sen. Cruz and his presidential ambition.”

Heidi Cruz is a polished executive who will have little trouble handling the public role of candidate’s wife, says Edward Haley, an international studies professor at Claremont McKenna College, who taught Cruz as an undergraduate and has since remained close. “That would be easy for her,” he said, referring to the demands of the campaign trail. “The harder part would be the demands on time with Ted and the family.”

Cruz always had ambitions to serve in government, but running for office was never her interest, Haley says.

She was meant to be a businesswoman, but she also had a very, very strong commitment to public service,” he says. “She’s bright and funny and self-deprecating, and very serious at the same time.”

Now, Cruz is stepping out of business for anywhere from months to years while her husband pursues higher office. Haley predicts that regardless of whether her husband is successful, Heidi Cruz will ultimately find her way back to Washington.

“I’ve always felt that Heidi wasn’t finished with public service,” Haley says. “There are a lot of ifs, but I think she still has things to contribute.”

Contributing: Catalina Camia in Lynchburg, Va.