I did a degree in music so my main skills were playing the piano and oboe. Most of the professional skills I have now, I have learned on the job.
- What attracted you to the sector?
I stood for parliament in 2001 and didn't get elected so I looked for a profession where I could use my political background and expertise. Before that I was communications director for Groundwork, a national regeneration charity.
- What did you learn in your first job?
My first job was as regional agent for the then Liberal Party in East Anglia. I learned a lot about political campaigns and how politicians think.
- What skills have you had to learn over your career?
Certain skills relate to running a consultancy - a frame of mind where you have to be client focused. I've also learned how to work in multidisciplinary teams, and push the importance of consultation and other "soft" activities with colleagues who are more technically minded.
- What or who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Tom Curtin, who introduced me to the world of planning PR, and Gareth Capner who knows all there is to know about building a consultancy.
- What is your career highlight?
Setting up Meeting Place Communications and its ongoing success - although I hope that there are more highlights to come.
- What have you learned outside work that has influenced you?
My family constantly teaches me not to take myself too seriously.
- What further skills do you aim to obtain or develop?
As an industry we have a lot more to learn about good public consultation, so we are constantly re-evaluating the skills needed for that.
- How important is it to keep abreast of developments in allied professions?
Absolutely critical. In addition to our communications expertise we need a working knowledge of planning and development issues - and a dictionary of planning acronyms.