Let me talk to you about political mid-level executives in Greece. Politics is an itch, a microbe, something that you are greatly invested in, although it may not be the best most of the time. 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 your ideas are beneficial (if they even are).
So, say you are a trained individual who is really, really keen on becoming a political executive. You join party lines, work up the chain of command, and have a great time doing so. You feel great, because you think you’re changing the world for the better. 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, and you soon realise that this is not a career path. It’s a step down the road for the great plan sorted out for you by you. You do gain a lot, though.
Political foundations and party ecosystems
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 time, at least, but a handful of people in the party’s ecosystem. Frankly, these people are enough especially when they are KOF’s.
You’ve worked together for years with most of these people. You’ve 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”, but with a political twist. These student organisations, 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 is easily transcribed into joining a party of their liking, and working their way up its ranks.
Transitioning from politics to the private sector
So now that you’ve spent years being put through the mill, now that you’ve done everything and feel fulfilled by it; now that you know people and your network is at its peak, now is the time 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 iacta 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.
- No, you did not just enter enemy lines.
- No, you are not paid that much of a hefty salary, meaning you did not sell out!
- 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, corporations, establishments, consumers.
- 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, is done for.
- 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 not only 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 summonings into 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: a new arena for former politicians
Government relations is beautiful! So say you, as you find yourself in such a position in a big company. Now you get to sell to your former self what people used to sell to you. Here’s why this is ideal:
- 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.
- You know what your former self thinks of you now. Same principle applies – you know how you’re perceived.
- You have an insight of how decisions are made, and how the system works.
Advantages of the shift
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!