I spent five years in the House of Commons working for Theresa May and John Redwood before joining The Whitehouse Consultancy in 2010. I’ve been involved in lots of different issues and campaigns at Whitehouse but have mainly specialised in renewable energy and environment, public service delivery and transport policy. I was promoted to Senior Consultant in 2012 and to Associate Director in 2013. I was also elected as a Conservative Councillor on Woking Borough Council four years ago so that keeps me pretty busy.
Undergraduate degree in Modern History and Political Science from the University of Dundee, and a Master of Philosophy in Russian and East European Studies from the University of Glasgow.
What does your current role entail on a day to day basis?
I’m lucky that there’s a lot of variety in what I do. Usually I start the week with a team meeting where we go over our priorities for the next few days. On Monday afternoon I’m meeting some clients to update them on the latest consultation from the Department of Energy and Climate Change. On Tuesday and Wednesday I’ll be at the European Parliament to brief members of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee on the implementation of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. I have several conference calls on Thursday and then I need to work on our financial projections for 2014, carry out a staff appraisal, write a new business proposal for a large healthcare company and prepare a communications strategy to support a client’s tender to provide services on behalf of the Department of Work and Pensions.
Having worked in the House of Commons for five years, how did you find the transition into public affairs consultancy?
Personally I didn’t find it too difficult. Working in Parliament gives you the knowledge to guide your clients through the policy formation process. The great thing about my time at Whitehouse is that I’ve been able to build on a range of skills I didn’t know I had, such as identifying new business opportunities, being successful in competitive pitches and developing strategies that can help meet clients’ commercial objectives.
How important would you say Parliamentary experience is to a career in public affairs?
It’s pretty important, since you need to know how Parliament works and be able to interpret proceedings so you can advise clients on the best course of action. Having said that, there are other routes into public affairs. We often take on consultants from different backgrounds including people who have worked for the European Commission or for charities, NGOs and in the private sector.
What advice would you give to Parliamentary staff who are interested in pursuing a public affairs career?
Make the most of your time in Parliament. Take on responsibility for projects so you can demonstrate that you’re proactive and can get things done.
What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?
I’ve always been interested in politics so I consider myself very lucky to be in an industry that I’m passionate about. We have a great team at Whitehouse and it’s fun to work with such a young and dynamic crowd.
How relevant is Degree subject for a public affairs career?
Not terribly important. Any of the social sciences will put you in good stead but employers are more concerned about initiative and relevant work experience.
If you could time travel back to your final year at University, what career advice would you give yourself?
Make greater use of internship and work experience opportunities to build up your CV.