What’s the most useful skill you learned while working at the heart of government?
Remembering to focus on what’s important – that politicians are first and foremost there to represent their constituents. Ronald Reagan famously used to say, 'Don’t forget to dance with the one who brung ya,' which still holds true. Senior politicians could fill their diary fives times over every day with very worthy meetings, conferences and interviews. At the end of the day you have to remember to focus on the bigger picture, why the electorate put you there, and that you have a finite time to get the job done. I also learned how to get from the House of Commons to Downing Street through the secret underground tunnels – though I’m not sure when that skill will ever come in useful again!
What advice would you give to somebody moving from the public to the private sector, as you did?
Politics enabled me to work across lots of interesting briefs, meet amazing people and travel all over the UK and abroad. After that, I worried that work may never be as fulfilling. But learning a new profession has been a great change for me – it’s good to keep challenging yourself. At freuds, where I now work, we run lots of major campaigns for great causes, such as Comic Relief, (RED) and the Global Goals. I’ve discovered that there are many different ways to make positive change to the world, outside of politics.
What is the biggest challenge facing women in business today?
Women face an inevitable challenge – the dilemma of if and when to have children. Working mothers wrestle with how they give the best of themselves to both work and family. I’m full of admiration for my friends and colleagues who have children and somehow manage to cope brilliantly. I’m fortunate that the places I’ve worked have been supportive of parents – hopefully realising that a good work life balance means happier and more productive employees.
What is the biggest challenge you have overcome personally, and how did you do it?
My family has been me amazing bedrock of support throughout my life – so whenever I have faced personal challenges, they have helped me through that.
Hear more from Poppy Mitchell-Rose at MT's Inspiring Women conference in Edinburgh on 17 March.