First job as Admin Executive in the Privy Council Office followed by other temporary positions in Whitehall to support myself through studies. I interned at the Foreign Policy Centre. After studies I began working for Keith Vaz MP for just over two years – first as the junior, then as the senior Parliamentary Officer. After Parliament I worked at the Institution of Civil Engineers as Public Affairs Manager, then as Account Manager at GK Political. In 2012 I began work as a freelance political consultant for clients in hospitality, education and third sector.
Undergraduate degree from the London School of Economics, post-graduate degree taken at Kings College London, both in international politics, law and history.
How did you get into Public Affairs?
It started with a keen interest in Westminster politics from a young age. After working in Parliament it was a natural step for my career.
What does your current freelance work entail on a day to day basis?
A working day varies a lot – more so than in my previous roles. The day will generally begin with email and monitoring. Meetings with clients or other stakeholders usually take place from later morning. The afternoon is usually when I get solidly stuck into major pieces of work – preparing copy, advice and analysis. It’s also important to remember to set time aside during the week to consider how work is developing and scope out other opportunities.
What are the differences between working in-house and for a consultancy? Which did you prefer?
Agency is a faster moving environment with a natural focus on the client and new business. In-house public affairs, especially in a large membership body, require much greater consideration for governance and inter-team planning.
Having worked in the House, how important would you say Parliamentary experience is to a career in public affairs?
It was useful and was a good way to become familiar with process and the realities of political life – but it’s not essential.
What advice would you give to Parliamentary staff who are interested in moving into Public Affairs?
Do your homework early – even if you’re not planning to leave Parliament in the next year. Come along to a few PubAffairs Networking events which are a great way to make contacts and gain knowledge on the industry. Finally, don’t get caught out if you know your MP is standing down or has a chance of losing his/her seat in the election.
How relevant is being a Political Party member for Public Affairs work?
I think declaring yourself as a card-carrying member helps in as much as it directly shows you have your own understanding, opinions and political networks.
How relevant is Degree subject for a public affairs career?
My focus when looking at CVs is on practical experience in delivering projects. A keen interest in politics is essential, but it’s not necessary for the degree to be directly related.
If you could timetravel back to your final year at University, what career advice would you give yourself?
Be more confident in yourself. Politics can be an intimidating environment – too often a loudmouth can dominate discussion, whilst informed voices sit quietly at the back.