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Career Summary 

I started my career in the insurance industry and spent 5 years there before going to university. After graduating from my Masters I did research and communications for The Spark (Scotland), a family support charity. Then I moved to London to head up BYC’s policy and public affairs team. After that I moved to TfL to build its stakeholder engagement team and transform its external relationships. I’ve been there for 7 years.

What does your current role entail on a day to day basis?

I look after TfL’s relationships with a wide range of stakeholders that speak for our customers and users including business, industry bodies, passenger representatives, statutory watchdogs, consumer groups, and the charity sector (for example, older and disabled people’s organisations, youth transport campaigning organisations and grass-roots community campaigners).

I also support our operating business by leading the communications and engagement strategies for all our major planning projects and our Commercial Development team.

My role is to champion our stakeholders’ needs and act as their advocate within TfL and also to secure stakeholder support, partnerships and advocacy to help drive and protect our reputation.

There is no typical day and it can sometimes be challenging to balance everyone’s needs.

How do you ensure successful management of your large TfL team?

It is vital to be able to cut through the noise, get to the nub of an issue and find solutions.

What did your role entail in the run up to – and during – the London Olympics? What were the greatest challenges which had to be overcome?

The key challenge was getting Londoners and businesses to change their travel behaviour so the transport network could accommodate the extra journeys from people travelling to the Games. We led a massive comms campaign to encourage businesses to plan ahead and avoid the busiest times on the network.

I was on mat leave during the Games itself, so faced a very different challenge!

Having worked on the Crossrail major infrastructure project: sum up your (and your team’s) involvement

Case making, developing and advising on the communications strategy as the project transitioned to the construction phase and protecting TfL’s reputation as a joint-sponsor of the project. This continues as the project moves towards being an operational railway, owned by us and operated under concession.

And it doesn’t stop there. With London’s population continuing to grow at unprecedented levels, we’re now making the case for Crossrail 2. This is an essential piece of national infrastructure to unlock tens of thousands of new jobs and homes and drive economic growth across the UK.

How does working in a public sector public affairs role differ to the charity sector?

I was very passionate about the causes I worked for in the charity sector and it was rewarding to see the difference my work was making to people’s lives. There are many similarities with my TfL role because transport also has a huge impact on many people’s lives. My job at TfL is more high profile and combines business and politics, and brings new and exciting challenges every day.

What do you enjoy about working in public affairs?

Meeting new and interesting people and building relationships, networks and coalitions to effect change.

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

I’ve always been proud of working on votes at 16. It’s an issue I was passionate about when I left school and entered the world of work aged 16. I felt privileged to be working on the campaign many years later.

How different is working in public affairs in Scotland to Westminster?

I found it very different as my job in Scotland was focused on lobbying the Scottish Parliament and had very little to do with Westminster.

Tell us about your Board role at the Better Bankside BID

It’s a statutory post on the Board so relates to my role at TfL. It’s great experience and my public affairs skills are definitely useful.

How did you find making the move from Scotland down to Westminster? What challenges/opportunities did you face when job hunting?

I moved from within the charity sector so it was quite easy to make the switch but I did have to adjust to Westminster.

What advice would you offer to practitioners in dealing with Board Members?

Make sure you’ve got your facts correct and know your brief.

What’s been the best piece of career advice you’ve been given?

It’s all about the relationship.

Quick-Fire Round  
If you could be stuck in a lift with a politician (past or present), who would it be and why? In recognition of 100 Years of Women in Transport, I’d say Barbara Castle – she was the first female transport minister and introduced the breathalyser test, compulsory seatbelts and national speed limits.
LinkedIN or Twitter? LinkedIN
Tweet your career-to-date in 140 characters or less Insurance, #studentlife, research&comms @SparkScotland, public affairs @bycLIVE, advocacy & rep mgmt @TfL #livingthedream
What’s your Media diet? BBC news, our media monitoring service, Twitter, City AM, the Times, information DJs, anything and everything really.
Favourite Film Any James Bond film
Guilty pleasure White wine

Read Jo Field's advice for students and recent graduates in the GraduateForward Advice Centre where she answers questions including: How relevant is Degree subject for a public affairs career? You studied for an MPhil: what advice would you give graduates considering continuing with postgrad studies?

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