|Senior Policy Advisor (HM Government)|
|Her Majesty's Treasury|
|Government and civil service|
|Large business (250+ employees)|
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A day in the life of a Senior Policy Advisor (HM Government) in the United Kingdom
I am responsible for researching, formulating and eventually assisting in legislating policy into law. Given my history in financial services, I work in the Financial Services Group within HMT, specifically covering Payment and FinTech policy.
Briefly describe the organisation you work for
I work for HM Treasury, the UK government's economic and finance ministry in Whitehall.
What do you do?
As a Senior Policy Advisor, I am responsible for researching, formulating and eventually assisting in legislating policy into law. Given my history in financial services, I work in the Financial Services Group within HMT, specifically covering Payment and FinTech policy.
My responsibilities ebb and flow over a number of months/ years depending on the specific policy. Broadly, however, my responsibilities include: researching and formulating requirements with industry, regulatory bodies and specialists; bringing these together in a policy proposal for scrutiny and sign-off from the minister of the day; having the policy written in to legislation and submitted to parliament as a bill, and working through amendments before eventually seeing it become law.
Reflecting upon your past employment and education, what led you to your current career choice?
In studying a politics degree, I always knew eventually I wanted to end up in public service and policy creation. I did, however, enjoy a >4 year stint in the investment banking space working for JPMorgan Chase.
Is your current job sector different from what you thought you would enter when you graduated?
It was to begin with, starting my career at JPMorgan, however as of 2020 has begin to align more broadly with my longer-term goals. That said, I never expected to be considered a 'specialist' in economic policy!
Describe your most memorable day at work
Given my experiences at HM Treasury are still young, my most memorable experience remains the day my team moved more than $500bn as part of Brexit readiness at JPMorgan; this is closely followed by the day I led a panel event on behalf of JPMorgan at a sovereign debt and central banks conference.
Are there any challenges associated with your job?
It can take (and rightly so) a long time understanding industry needs and assessing current law to ensure future proposals are weaved effectively in to an exceptionally complex regulatory environment. Policy that promises bold changes and innovations must be iron-clad to ensure it effectively compels industry and regulatory change. Payment policy, in particular, can often be a game of catching up with FinTech disrupters, whilst ensuring legacy institutions such as large banks keep pace with change for the benefit of consumers.
What’s your work environment and culture like?
The Treasury is a modern working environment, with up-to-date technology and recently renovated agile working spaces. Whilst the Civil Service is occasionally known for being a little slow, I have found HMT to have a lean working culture, and is a surprisingly small department at c1500 staff. They are, by being the government department responsible for all public spending, exceptionally driven to ensure both gender-pay equity and that minorities are well represented at all levels, from graduate to Director-General.
What extracurricular activities did you undertake at university and what transferable skills did you develop through these?
I was Langwith College President in 2015 (delegation and leadership); I was part of an International Study Centre in my second year summer (working in a team to solve a problem); I was a writer and deputy-editor for Nouse (ability to write and edit technical prose).
What would you like to do next with your career?
My dream was always to be a diplomat at the Foreign Office. Whilst the Treasury is directly next-door, I would love to make my next stint a role abroad at an embassy.
What top tips do you have for York students preparing for today’s job market and life after graduation?
Finance: Getting into the finance industry is the hardest step; be willing to compromise to get a foot in the door; don't sell yourself as just another banker in waiting - banks are not just interested in economics or finance students, so be willing to detail where you passions lie beyond banking as it will set you apart.
Civil Service: Similar to above, a broad CV with a diverse set of evidenced soft-skills is typically what recruiters look for at graduate level. The Fast Stream in particular will test these skills through a series of rounds, the process for which will be easily detailed at the application stage (or available in forums online).
Beyond these two specifically, be kind to yourself. Navigating the world of work during your final year is tough.
What topics from students are you happy to answer questions on?
I am happy to advise on my application process as a graduate to JPMorgan (although this was a number of years ago now, and the processes will have changed slightly), or as a direct-hire to the Civil Service.
I am also happy to chat on anything to do my role at JPMorgan or the Civil Service (where possible).
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