We chatted with Liz, who looks after policy and public affairs for the North and Midlands, as part of the Nations and Regions team.

Who are you and what do you do?

I look after policy and public affairs for the North and Midlands within BT Group, as part of the Nations and Regions team.  My role involves building BT’s reputation externally with some of our key stakeholders – mainly MPs, Local and Combined Authorities, the LEPs (Local Enterprise Partnerships – which comprise both public and private sector members to work together to promote local economic growth), as well as some of the business organisations like the CBI and Chambers of Commerce.  A large part of the job is around telling BT’s story – for example how we are working to promote digital skills across the UK, the economic impact that we have in a city, the positive effect that BT’s innovation and connectivity is having in areas like healthcare, or how we have been supporting our customers through the pandemic.  There is an element of troubleshooting as well on occasion, and there are many times when I get asked a question that I can’t answer – the key is knowing who can!

What did you to before joining BT and/or the Corporate Affairs team?

I started my career in management consultancy before moving to Telecoms (who remembers One 2 One?!) in channel development, looking after the mobile phone dealers on the high street.  They were exciting days – market share was everything – as mobiles became an essential part of our daily life.  I then moved to the not for profit sector, working for a charity that promotes responsible business, and held a number of roles there including Area Director, Membership Director and Operations Director, working with large corporates across the UK, before joining BT in September 2019.

What do you love about your role?

There’s a lot I love about this role. I have the privilege of working with a wide range of people, both within BT and externally, and am constantly learning – whether it’s about BT’s approach to creating a digital fabric or working as part of a cross-team group in Corporate Affairs to see how we can make our recruitment as inclusive as possible.  In Corporate Affairs you generally get to have a fair insight into many parts of the business, and I enjoy feeling ‘in the middle of it’.  Making sure our key contacts have the best understanding and impression of BT and that we have robust, honest relationships, even if we are having difficult conversations, is also commercially important, and I believe that what we do matters.  I also have to say we have a great team, and there’s always someone there to talk something through with, and particularly when we are geographically dispersed, that’s really important.

Has the pandemic affected your role and/or workload?

The last time I left the house for work was 10 March 2020, and since then everything has been online.  I used to think you could maintain relationships remotely, but needed to build them face to face, but I’ve learned over the last year that that isn’t true, and now have some great working relationships with both internal and external stakeholders who I’ve never met. I’m very much hoping they don’t go downhill when people finally get to meet me in person… The focus of my role pivoted initially to BT’s response to Covid, and that is still key, but the ‘business as usual’ continues.  Not travelling has freed up over a day a week on average, so this has made the workload peaks very manageable.

What would you say to someone considering a career in Corporate Affairs?

If you’re someone who likes to have a lot of projects on the go at any one time, and are comfortable working in a rapidly changing environment, then Corporate Affairs may be for you.  You don’t need to be technical – we have a lot of talented people who can address the tech questions – but you do need to be able to pick up the key messages quickly and be comfortable talking to senior people and be able to gauge when to draw in colleagues and how to frame conversations to give us the best outcome.  

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