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Career Summary

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.

Academic/Professional Qualifications

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.

Which campaign/issue are you most proud to have been involved in?

I’m most proud of the small successes I’ve had in my role as a Councillor. It’s rewarding to know that I’ve been able to make a difference to people’s lives through my involvement in politics.

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 do you think your role as a Councillor adds value to your professional work?

There are a lot of skills involved in being a Councillor that transfer well to political consultancy, such as public speaking and presenting, being able to get to grips with the minutiae of policy, and working with people who have different backgrounds and opinions to your own. A good Councillor has to find practical solutions to problems and that’s a large part of what we do for clients at Whitehouse.

As somebody who is politically active, how important do you think such involvement is to a career in public affairs?

It can sometimes be more important than other factors like degree subject. Active involvement through membership of pressure group or campaigning for your party locally can be a great way of getting to know the personalities in Westminster and the nuances of how politics works, as well as helping to build up your own profile and reputation. Some of the most successful public affairs consultants are significant political players in their own right.

You contested the Glasgow East seat in the 2005 General Election: what was this like as a campaigning experience?

It’s safe to say that Glasgow East will never be a Conservative target seat. At the time I stood in the constituency it had voted Labour at every election since the 1930s. Obviously it was challenging to run an election campaign in a hostile environment with limited resources, but it was a good learning experience and I had a lot of freedom and autonomy to do things my own way. It’s always a privilege to represent your home city as a candidate for Parliament, and I’d like to believe that I challenged some people’s perceptions about the Conservative Party.

What’s your prediction for the Scottish Independence Referendum?

The conventional wisdom is that it should be a decisive victory for the No campaign, but a lot can happen between now and September. Alex Salmond is a shrewd campaigner and we shouldn’t underestimate his ability to pull off a surprise result.

What's your prediction for the next General Election result?

There will either be a small overall majority for the Conservatives or a hung Parliament.

Quick-Fire Round  
Which politician, past or present, would you like to be stuck in a lift with? What issues would you raise? Winston Churchill, because we could talk for hours about all the major historical events he played a role in during the first half of the last century.
LinkedIN or Twitter? Twitter.
Tweet your career-to-date in 140 characters or less #Russia guru; @ScotTories PPC; Researcher to Theresa May and @johnredwood; @Whitehouse_01 Assoc. Dir; #Conservative Cllr on @wokingcouncil.
What’s your Media diet? The BBC; Sky News; The Times; The Daily Telegraph; The Economist.
Favourite Film The Shawshank Redemption.
Guilty pleasure Peanut butter M&Ms.

Read Carl Thomson’s advice for students and recent graduates in the GraduateForward Advice Centre where he answers questions including: Having worked in the House of Commons for five years, how did you find the transition into public affairs consultancy? How important would you say Parliamentary experience is to a career in public affairs? What advice would you give to Parliamentary staff who are interested in pursuing a public affairs career?

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