Let me talk to you about political mid-level executives in Greece. It’s not that far of a concept from Brussels or international vibes. Politics is an itch, a microbe, something that you are greatly invested in albeit maybe not the best most of the times. Mid-level political executives could have it bad for themselves. They usually work a lot, trying to make up for lack of resources, people, necessary skillsets and time – politics is after all the art of of the possible. Naturally, it’s difficult to prove to senior and lower management that the influx of your ideas are to the better (if they even are). So say you are a trained individual that is really, really keen on becoming a political executive. You join party lines, you work up the chain of command, you have a great time doing so (and really important for you, GenZers out there, you feel great, because you think you’re changing the world for the better, right?). You are part of a team. So you get to work for a government or the opposition – both are fine when you’re a political actor – but the pay isn’t great, you feel like you’re falling back on your career, you soon realize that this is not a career path, but a step down the road for the great plan sorted out for you by you. You do gain a lot though.
People know you, for starters, and if you’re lucky enough and careful enough (hint: beware of social media and their nested trolls) people think highly of you. Of course, by people, one does not mean the general public, but most of the times, at least, but a handful of people in the party’s ecosystem. Frankly, these people are enough especially when they are KOF’s. With most of these people you’ve been together for years. Shared your thoughts during the university years – in Greece there exists something called student parties, which are proxies to parliamentary parties that resemble the American “Greek system” with a political twist. These student organizations together with party youths to which they are linked, are the places where most of tomorrow’s political execs grow – at least for the past 30-40 years they have and quite successfully to be honest.
Bottomline: people’s inner need to form groups and become political, growing up, is easily transcribed into joining a party of their liking, and working their way up in it.
So now that you’ve spent years through the mill, done everything and feel fulfilled about it, now, that you know people and networking is at its peak, now is the time -let’s face it- that you need to find a proper job/career. Unless, of course, you’re a career politician, overly successful – and so good at it.
Alea jacta est. You are out and about in the private sector. Enter West Wing, which I’m sure anyone who’s reading this article has watched.
1. No, you did not just enter enemy lines.
2. No, you are not paid that much of a hefty salary, meaning you did not sell out!
3. No, you’re not out of the game. The game, if we can even call government relations that, is one, and it includes all actors and players; the public sector, the government, corporate, establishments, consumers.
4. No, no one is going to forget about you and your work in the party. Just because you now have a career that does not revolve around one party/candidate/person, it does not mean that your past alongside your present and future are done for.
5. Forget about volunteering. Maybe the most important part. You are not a corporate bro for King and country. You are paid to do a job which translates into money – sorry to my socialist friends. That means both your clients and your bosses but also your friends and contacts know that you are being paid for your services. No more idling in party HQs, no more summoning you in relentless party events despite the fact that you might enjoy both of those a lot, no more being asked for stuff generally in an all hands on deck style. Your job now has a description.
Government relations is beautiful! So say you find yourself in a position of GR in a big company, when you previously were working for the government/ opposition/ party irrespective of position. Now you get to sell to your former self what people used to sell to you. Here’s why this is ideal:
1. You now know when the former self was full of BS. Meaning, you know what to expect, how to push, how much you should push and why.
2. You know what your former self thinks of you now. Same principle applies – you know how you’re perceived.
3. You have an insight of how decisions are made, and how the system works.
To sum up: having passed from active politics and pivoting to a corporate position in government relations and the politics/public sector related business, gives you a competitive advantage. Besides the obvious which is networking, you’re capable of an inside analysis of how things get done. It’s all about process. Every job is all about their internal processes. So, if you are righteous, respect the rules and push the right buttons, transcending can be a very good and pleasant thing! Good luck to you, green execs.
PS: Also, if you are a lady – fear not! Corporate environments are inclusive and welcome women in their teams. It’s 2023 for God’s sake!