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Career Summary

A few years in local government and central government, and then straight into agency life where I have largely remained since 1999. My only diversion has been to an in-house role for a renewable energy developer, but returned to be a freelance consultant and then my current MD role.

What academic/professional qualifications do you have?

I have a degree in politics from Sussex and an MSc in Social Policy from the LSE.

How did you get into public affairs?

I fell! The industry was relatively small then and I responded to an Ad whilst working at the Department for Environment, Transport and the Regions… and the rest is history.

What does your current role entail on a day to day basis? As Managing Director, how do you split your time between managing the business and client work?

My priorities are developing the strategic direction of the business and ensuring the welfare of the company - including our great people and clients. New business and Whitehouse brand development have been no.1 on the to-do list and in these first 18 months I have focused on raising the companies profile – placing us above the radar, show casing our clients and talented team, over-seeing a soft re-brand and aligned re-skin of the website, developed clear social media approaches, moved to a fantastic new office space, and recruited and promoted to create a robust senior team to support and drive our ambitions. It’s exciting times at Whitehouse!

You’ve worked for several years as an independent consultant: what would you advice to someone considering a freelance career? 

Re-establish all your networks, understand the current market i.e. what are agencies and freelancers being used to deliver - strategy or logistics, and shape an aligned offer. Ensure you have great presentation, an online presence and excellent written skills. Know your day rates. Be confident. Be flexible. Be responsive.

What’s your secret to achieving a successful work/life balance?

Being efficient.

How valuable are stakeholder coalitions in making your voice heard at government level?

Whitehouse has a long tradition of both establishing and running coalitions, and these have been particularly successful in communicating with and influencing the EU policy and regulatory environment. They have a significant role in positively engaging - however to run them takes great communications and skill.

What are the challenges facing the consultancy sector in the public affairs industry?

The industry is increasingly competitive, creative and talented – the biggest challenge is therefore ensuring you are amongst the best of those. Always pushing to deliver for clients and secure new business. There is a slight shift to lower level implementation work opposed to strategy but I believe this is cyclical. Our lack of industry diversity remains a challenge – companies want to see opportunity and ambition and this to be reflected in the agencies they employ.

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

I have found value and achievement in all campaigns I have worked on.

What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?

The people, the politics, the need to keep moving forward.

Which skills are key for a successful career as public affairs consultant?

Research, writing, lateral creative thinking and presentation.

What's your prediction for the UK Referendum on EU Membership to be held on 23rd June 2016?



Quick-Fire Round  
LinkedIN or Twitter? LinkedIn
Favourite restaurant for a business lunch? Not my thing, but if needed then 76 Dean Street
What’s your Media diet? FT, Politics Home, Guardian, BBC News
Favourite Film Magnolia
Guilty pleasure Kitchen discos…


Read Helen Munro's advice for students and recent graduates in the GraduateForward Advice Centre where she answers questions including: Which skills are key for a successful career as public affairs consultant? What advice would you give to someone considering a career in public affairs?

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