Making a Difference: The Policy Process and Ethical Careers

OxPolicy hosted its policy careers event on Tuesday, with fascinating insights for a capacity audience at the Hub

On Tuesday, OxPolicy hosted its policy careers event on “Making a Difference: The Policy Process and Ethical Careers”, in collaboration with the Oxford Hub.  It was a chance for students to hear from our panel of expert speakers, firstly to learn about the policy process itself, but also to think seriously about how we can engage with the issues we care about at the same time as making a living.

A packed room heard our first speaker, Ms Leslie Fesenmeyer, make the case for marrying academic work with “real life”, detailing her broad base of experience from working on migration here in Oxford through to her experience on anti-poverty with the New York Women’s Foundation. The NGO is working to build momentum around women’s rights and security through direct funding as well as by intervening in policy debates. As well as sharing her own rich experience, Ms Fesenmeyer invited students to consider their own place within social intervention, whether we would like to be thinkers or doers, working in advocacy, research, organising or politics.

Mr Mitchell Harris provided a different and complementary perspective based on his time at the UK Civil Service, particularly in his current role at the Cabinet Office.  Mr Harris explained his own career path, starting with a BA in Experimental Psychology from the University of Oxford, leading him later to the heart of governance in Whitehall. He also spoke about the challenges of bringing fiscal discipline to the civil service, as well as answering our questions on the pace and rewards of Civil Service life, as well as the struggles of managing a huge and varied policy agenda.

Our final speaker, Mr Myles Stacey, brought impressive experience ranging from the UN in New York, working on the London Olympics with LOCOG, through to his current role at the public services think tank, Reform. Mr Stacey made the case for think tanks as spaces for creative and independent thinking, looking to impact the policy agenda in sometimes radical ways. He also had time to reminisce over his positive experiences during his Master’s degree at Oxford, Wahoo and Camera included, and encouraged us to make the most of our time here, including through organisations like OxPolicy.

None of our speakers shied away from the audience’s challenging questions, and they were able to speak about some of the challenges of policy careers, as well as the rewards.  Above all, they reminded us to show some enthusiasm and take some risks, equipping ourselves with the tools and experience we need to navigate the challenges of the world. Thanks to all those who attended, including our generous speakers.


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Calum Montell-Boyd

Arsenal fan, Policy enthusiast, HisPol student & Hapless Chump, Oxford & London.

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