Collaboration is the key to everything at HM Treasury. I’m one of 900 policy-makers here but we don’t just work individually. Any substantial piece of policy that comes from this organisation has had multiple people, teams, Special Advisers and Ministers working on it. The sum is greater than its pieces.
How do you explain your role to your friends and family?
With difficulty! I generally find it easier to work backwards from things they see on the news or read in the papers and explain my role in a particular project to them. This makes it a little easier to comprehend.
Can you tell us about specific policy-related projects you’ve led or made an impact on?
I led on some of the negotiations with areas that agreed mayoral devolution deals with the government at the 2015 Spending Review and 2016 Budget. This was challenging as it meant negotiating with very senior parties from outside central government on a wide range of issues. It was interesting to hear from local areas about what they exactly wanted, and it was very rewarding in the many instances when we were able to work with them to deliver lasting change in their city regions.
What is your team like to work with?
My team is fantastic to work with, mainly due to the structure. We have three separate branches, but they all deal with similar things, and there is a lot of overlap and fluidity between them for when a particular branch’s workload increases, or when people are on leave and need cover etc. Obviously they are dedicated, intelligent people as well, and in group projects we spark ideas off of each other to great effect.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy the fact that I am never just working on a single task. On average I have 6 – 8 projects on the go at any one time, and I find I work best this way as I can keep things fresh and give the day more structure. The sheer amount of variance between the natures of the tasks increases my overall productivity as it keeps my mind active.
What’s been your biggest challenge so far?
Actually starting here was the biggest challenge I faced, as unlike the majority of my cohort I had never worked in an office (my background was in retail and bar work.) However everyone in my team was very supportive and more than happy to answer basic questions I had about office work, the Civil Service in general, and anything that happened to be on my mind. It is a very welcoming and receptive work environment, and despite being challenged I never felt lost.
What’s been your proudest moment so far?
Seeing the formal launch of the £80m Life Chances Fund in July 2016, to help disadvantaged members of society. This was the culmination of a nine-month project I had been working on, and to see it finally launched to the public was very rewarding. In all my previous jobs I never had long-term projects, just day-to-day activities, so this was a feeling I had never experienced before.
Finally, what would you say to someone thinking of applying?
Do it. The biggest piece of advice I would give when applying is to not measure yourself against your perception of people that you imagine work here, or the job against your friends’ description of their careers – treat it as something personal, and something that you own. You won’t lose out on anything by applying, and may have a huge amount to gain.