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You started your career as a Parliamentary Researcher: How important is gaining experience within political institutions when considering a career in public affairs?

Important but not necessarily vital. I’ve worked with some brilliant people in public affairs who never worked in Parliament or the Civil Service. Perhaps the most useful element is former colleagues and friends who I met in Parliament have gone into in house roles or think tanks and so for my network it’s been great.

Is being politically active important to a career in policy and public affairs?

As above, really. I always want political animals when I’m recruiting, but they don’t have to be cheerleaders for a political party. I like astute observers of politics who keep their ears to the ground and read voraciosuly, I don’t want hacks.What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in public affairs?

Networking is incredibly important so make sure you work at it. Particularly if you want to go consultancy side.

If you could time travel back to your final year at University, what career advice would you give yourself?

I had thought about becoming a barrister and I think I might have been good at that, but I really love what I am doing now and would have told my younger self that public affairs could be an excellent fit for my skill set

How relevant is Degree subject for a public affairs career?

Very little. Analytical ability and attitude key drivers for me.

What value does a PostGrad qualification add to employability and career prospects?

Not that much – I have a Masters so I am qualified to say so!

What does your current role entail on a daily basis?

The great thing about public affairs is the breadth of work I do every day. Different clients need me for different things, but basically I see myself as an extension of my clients’ teams - advising them on how they should be positioning themselves in relation to policy, most of it proactively but occasionally reactively. I start early and digest my usual morning sources – Politico, The Times, FT and City AM. I keep my mornings for any analytical or written work, or brainstorming I need to do with colleagues, as afternoons my brain definitely slows down a little so generally I will do more admin type stuff. 

How did you get into public affairs?

Straight after finishing my masters I went to do an internship for an MP in Westminster. From there I did a few months at Edelman which was great, but the opportunity to work on a general election campaign in 2005 was too good to turn down. I worked for the Lib Dems for 5 years but always knew I wanted to go back to public affairs.

What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?

The client advisory side. That’s why I do it. I love giving advice, even more so when it’s listened to! I’ve built some really great and long lasting relationships and made some really good friends along the way. When clients invite you to their wedding you know you must be doing something right!

Read Dave McCullough's Public Affairs Profile where he answers questions including: Which campaign/issue are you most proud to have been involved in? You spent four years in Brussels: How did you find it as a place to work and live? What are the challenges facing the consultancy sector in the public affairs industry?

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