He led negotiations with Greece's creditors during the government-debt crisis.
However, he failed to reach an agreement with the European troika, leading to the 2015 bailout referendum.
Varoufakis was six years old when the military coup d'état of April 1967 took place.
Varoufakis later said that the military junta showed him a "sense of what it means to be both unfree and, at once, convinced that the possibilities for progress and improvement are endless".
He has been Secretary-General of Me RA25, a left-wing political party, since he founded it in 2018.
A former member of Syriza, he served as Minister of Finance from January to July 2015 under Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.
He therefore enrolled in the economics course at Essex, but it has also been suggested that he decided to enroll in economics after meeting Andreas Papandreou.
Whilst at the University of Essex he joined a variety of political organisations including Com Soc (the University Communist Society) and the Troops Out Movement, which campaigned for a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
His "initial urge was to study physics" but he decided that "the lingua franca of political discourse was economics".
He began a career in academic economics, teaching at the universities of Essex, East Anglia and Cambridge between 19.
Following Margaret Thatcher's third election victory in 1987, Varoufakis left the UK and moved to Australia, where he taught at the University of Sydney until 2000.
He also became involved with the African National Congress, Palestine Liberation Organization, and other organisations such as those in solidarity with Chile.
Varoufakis was also elected as secretary of the Black Students Alliance, a choice that caused some controversy, given that he is not black, to which he responded by telling them, according to his Ph D supervisor Monojit Chatterjee, "that black was a political term and, as a Greek, on the grounds of ethnicity he had as much reason to be there as anyone else." He moved to the University of Birmingham in October 1981, obtaining an MSc in mathematical statistics in October 1982.