I started my career as an intern in 10 Downing Street, working on PMQs. After jobs in engineering and tourism, I joined the Comms team at the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) for 5 years. After catching up on sleep, I delivered a private rail campaign and then secured the public affairs and EU brief at the FSB last summer.
BA and MA in Legislative Studies from the University of Hull – part of the Hull/Lord Norton mafia in Westminster. And British Sign Language Level 1.
What does your current role entail on a day to day basis?
I talk to politicians in all parties about the key issues faced by small businesses, and then we try to find solutions. So any day can involve briefing on business rates, energy costs, late payments or the impact of tube strikes – working closely with Policy and Media in London, as well as our regions/devolveds and HQ up in Blackpool.
Your first job was at Number 10: how did you land this, and what insight did it provide you with?
The internship programme at No.10 was short-lived. It was created under Tony Blair and I think it lasted only for a few years, probably for security clearance concerns - we were only cleared at basic level but were in an environment likely to include classified materials.
Twice a year, places were chosen through a handful of universities – and you were able to indicate which team you favoured. My choice was the Parliamentary Clerk’s office, as I knew it involved preparing for PMQs.
It’s been invaluable to my career ever since. Knowing how No.10 operates, how the teams there work together and what everyone needs – this makes public affairs work a lot more straightforward. Seeing the results of the behind-the-scenes work then delivered in public is something that has been incredibly useful as I’ve planned campaigns and moments.
What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?
I love the three phases of public affairs - the clash of ideas at first; the winners and losers (in policy-making terms or elections); and then the art of getting things done - keeping a project on-track until it’s delivered.
Which campaign/issue are you most proud to have been involved in?
I think the single issue I’m proudest of at LOCOG was helping resolve a ticketing issue for disabled people. We had an excellent programme in place put together by talking to different communities within the disabled community, with tailored needs for each one. But later on, a politician on the London Assembly – Dee Doocey – was campaigning hard that this was not good enough. We realized that we could do better, and so got all the key people into a room. Late in the day, we created a ticketing programme called TicketCare just for that specific group – we costed it, funded it and delivered it. Knowing this happened is a source of personal pride, and hearing about their experience afterwards was just magical.
What’s been the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?
Always do a spell check.
How relevant is Degree subject for a public affairs career?
I think you should go as far as you can, in education. Whether that’s a degree and post-grad or vocational – it’s all valuable. It shows you can operate at that level – research, present, learn, meet deadlines, be professional, compete, etc. You’ll need all those skills in every public affairs job so acquiring them in your education is a prerequisite.
For me the subject is less important. Unless it’s incredibly niche.
If you could timetravel back to your final year at University, what career advice would you give yourself?
My advice would be to wring as much out of every single moment and job as possible. And probably stay out of the student bar a bit more.