14 November 2016

What is it like working as the Personal Assistant to the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron

Author :
Recently, the conference producer of Akolade’s 3rd Annual Public Sector EA & PA Summit, Claire, conducted an interview with Kate Marley who was the Former Personal Assistant and Political Special Adviser to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron to ask her what is it like working for the most powerful leader in the UK.

C = Claire, Akolade’s Conference Producer
K = Kate, Former Personal Assistant and Political Special Adviser to the UK Prime Minister David Cameron

C: Was it always an ambition to work so closely with the Prime Minister?

K: I started working for David Cameron when he became Leader of the Conservative Party, and therefore Leader of the Opposition in the UK, in 2005. It was a goal of the whole team over the five years that followed to get the Party elected and to see him become Prime Minister. So while it may not have been an ambition when I was younger to work for the Prime Minister of the day, it soon became a goal when I was working for David Cameron. Even still, nothing prepares you for the moment you walk into No. 10 Downing Street – it was such a privilege to work there.

C: What is the most important piece of advice you would offer to EAs and PAs?

K: If you want to progress in your career, make sure you don’t get boxed into the role. It is often the central most position in an office so you are in a great place from which to identify new opportunities to develop your skills. Don’t neglect the time needed to focus on your career development as you can easily increase your value in an office.  

C: What was the most useful lesson you learnt over the ten years in your various positions?

K: Time seems to disappear very quickly working in politics – there is always something unexpected happening and with the 24-hour news cycle, always something you need to prepare for, or react to. Therefore, you haven’t got the luxury of putting off doing something today as you think you will get a chance to do it tomorrow. But at the same time don’t let the moment pass you by in any job – make the most of the experience and maximise the opportunities.

C: Did you enjoy working with David Cameron?

K: Yes, very much so. He was a great boss and engendered a real team spirit in the office, so people stayed loyal to him. He is such an intelligent and thoughtful individual, passionate about his beliefs and strong values, while also being a strategic leader with a clear vision - so every day I learnt something from him and how he approached each challenge. Given the nature of the job and fast-paced environment, I spent more hours at my desk than a usual job, but it never felt a chore and often didn’t feel like work. It was a pleasure and a very memorable experience.

C: Where to next?

K: I am just finalising my next steps but I will be heading into the private sector where I will have a lot to learn. However, I will still be keeping a close eye on politics and public policy – the next few years will be critical ones for UK as we leave the European Union and there are a number of great challenges and opportunities ahead for us all.  


Hear what it was like for Kate working for David Cameron in the past 10 years at the 3rd Annual Public Sector EA & PA Summit and how she went from PA to Political Special Adviser. 

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