I lead on what the UK’s future trade strategy should be post Brexit, from a Treasury angle. Part of an exciting new team, I’m working closely with colleagues across Whitehall to shape the government’s strategy with key trading partners, such as the US and China.
How do you explain your role to your friends and family?
As a senior policy adviser, it’s my job to advise the government, the Chancellor and other Ministers on the Treasury’s position relating to the direction of the UK’s future trade strategy. This involves undertaking research and policy thinking, advising Ministers, and attending meetings with other departments across government.
Can you tell us about specific policy-related projects you’ve led or made an impact on?
I helped to cost and test new policy ideas for all spending measures under consideration for the 2016 Budget. This involved working with spending teams to look at new policy ideas either from the Chancellor or other Ministers. Ahead of Budget Day, we met with the Chancellor to agree a shortlist of measures before they were announced, which were based on value for money and affordability. Then, following some final further analysis, these measures – including more funding for education – were announced by the Chancellor on Budget Day.
What is your team like to work with?
Very open, friendly and collaborative – and that is actually true of everyone I’ve worked with. In my current team we often test ideas with each other, particularly given trade is a new area of focus. So there’s lots of collective learning as we go.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
That you have a ring-side seat to some of the biggest, most difficult political and economic challenges of the day. The amount of responsibility you get to lead your policy area is often what people in other government departments find most surprising about the Treasury.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Taking on formal line management responsibilities for two policy advisers was a real shift for me. I’ve had to learn how to delegate. By seeking advice from colleagues and the views of the people I’m managing, I’ve been able to test a couple of approaches, developing my own management style.
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
The months leading up to the Spending Review in 2015 had been incredibly intense. Everything relied on us having the right numbers for each department. When the Chancellor stood up in Parliament to announce the government’s spending plans for the next four years, of over £1 trillion, I was in the officials’ box – and it was incredibly rewarding!
Finally, what would you say to someone thinking of applying?
Go for it! Research what working here involves – it’s very different from other graduate roles in terms of the level of responsibility and ownership. If you’re interested in politics and the biggest issues facing the UK, there’s sure to be something that will interest you here.
What are your top tips on becoming a Senior Policy Adviser?
Think about the sorts of roles you enjoy. Do you like fast-paced jobs, or do you prefer more certainty? Secondly, build your network and get yourself on people’s radar. Finally, go for a promotion and job that interests you – you spend a fair chunk of your life at work, so it’s important to enjoy it!