Current Employer/Organisation Name
What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?
I currently lead UK Government relations for Rolls-Royce plc, a global technology and engineering company. Rolls-Royce’s relationship with Government has many facets, including customer, regulator, funder and export champion. I have always worked in and around the political environment. Prior to this I worked for Tesco plc across a range of roles, including Government Relations, media comms and stakeholder campaigns. Before that I had policy and public affairs roles in Parliament, a local authority and a trade association.
Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?
Following my time at Exeter I knew I wanted to engage with the political system and carve a career that allowed me to follow the weird and chaotic world of UK politics. As that career has developed I wanted to bridge the corporate and political world, developing my commercial and business skills alongside the political. I most enjoy learning from experts. Internally at Rolls-Royce I’m surrounded by world-class engineers, designers, business leaders. Externally I engage with leading political and public affairs practitioners who operate in an ever changing world that’s hard to keep up in. Meeting and learning from these people is a very exciting part of the job.
Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?
I led Community Action – a highlight of my time at Exeter. Participated in Officer Training Corps, Football and Canoe. I also worked in The Ram, which provided many great memories.
What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?
Sharing three reflections: 1) the range of subjects the university had expertise in , from UK politics to Middle East relations to political science, presented opportunities to shape the course to my interest areas, 2) the increasing number of international students provided a great opportunity for more perspectives during seminar and independent study, and 3) I really engaged with the seminar focus of both my courses, taking the opportunity to interrogate the topics under discussion. Biggest highlight: Serving as politics subject chair in the School of Humanities and engaging with so many students on programmes I wouldn’t normally have met.
What did you enjoy most about studying here?
The university provided so many opportunities to get a rounded education that combined course study with so many other extra-curricular opportunities. Those experiences certainly helped shape my approach beyond university.
Why did you choose to study at Exeter?
The course was ranked one of the best in the country and the campus and city had a good community feel to it. Growing up in London it felt a world away from home and I was excited to experience a new place.
What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?
1) Current affairs – During study we were encouraged to apply real world and current examples to the theory, creating both interest and habit in engaging with news and current affairs. I’ve taken that interest with me throughout my career. 2) Work experience – I had the opportunity to do work experience as part of my course and took advantage of contacts within the university to gain work experience in London. Those experiences gave me a clearer understanding of what I wanted to do post-graduation and set me apart from other candidates when applying for jobs. 3) Debating – in hindsight the strong focus on seminar heled develop skills for debating and challenging positions. That confidence and framing of argument has been important throughout my career to date.
What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?
Three pieces of advice: 1) Be aware of current affairs and remain politically interested. Read the papers and develop your own perspective and views. Don’t be afraid to challenge perspectives. 2) It’s a crowded marketplace so spend time outside of study on work experience, political campaigns, networking. This will raise your awareness of the industry and set you apart from other candidates. 3) Don’t believe you have to be a political geek but do take time to learn about whether the industry is right for you. Though I’d say that there are so many transferable skills in the policy and public affairs industry, which requires goods communication, being organised, managing complex and competing priorities, mental agility. It’s an exciting place to be.
What are your plans for the future?
I’m still very much on a career learning curve and want to continue building my own knowledge and craft. I want to earn the right to advise global companies on how they can deliver their strategy and achieve their commercial goals.