Tom Greatrex of the Nuclear Industry Association talks politics, career advice, and his dream job at Fulham FC
Following the success of our Global Power Book #PRProSeries, we continue the series exploring the careers of the most powerful communications pros around the world today. We sat down with Tom Greatrex, CEO of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour MP and shadow Energy Minister, to find out how he made it in the industry.
How did you get into politics and public affairs?
I got into politics at school. I went to grammar school and had lots of arguments with teachers about grammars and how unfair I thought they were. I even argued about them with our MP John Stanley when he came into school! That inspired me to join the Labour party. I got more involved at university when John Smith died and I volunteered for Margaret Beckett’s leadership campaign – which was pretty unsuccessful. I then worked at Westminster as a researcher.
What personal attribute do you think has most helped you become successful?
I’m a resilient person. I believe nothing that’s worth doing is easy. If it was, it would already have been done, so you have to be able to keep going in order to achieve what you want.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Whatever you end up doing, make sure it’s something you agree with. If you don’t agree with it, don’t do it.
What do you think the global communications industry will look like in 10 years’ time?
I think it will probably be an extension of what we’ve seen in the last four or five years; the escalation of sources of information and the scale of information available that goes hand in hand with the degradation of serious, credible analysis. This is a world where you can choose your own facts and it makes it so much more difficult to present a factually robust, evidence-based case.
What three words best describe you?
Rational. Pragmatic. Calm.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Balancing the demands of your professional life with family life. I think that’s particularly true when you have young children. Of course, it’s a good challenge to have but often there are times when it’s more manageable than others. It will continue to be an ongoing challenge for many people.
What roles would pique your interest if you were looking for a new job?
I’m not expecting to move on any time soon, but if I did it would need to be for something that gives me what this position has, in that policy and public affairs is a significant part of it but not the whole role. Here I work with a board of senior non-executives, and that challenge function brings with it responsibility. It would need to be interesting. I’d not be particularly attracted to the agency world but would like to work in an organisation or business related to energy infrastructure.
What do you like about your current role?
We’re working on the nation’s energy requirements; it’s exciting. The role that I have means a lot of interaction with different businesses throughout the UK and across the world. There are lots of discussions with international partners. All of those things are interesting challenges and I do many things that I have never done before which is exciting. It’s important to develop new skills and to always keep on learning.
Would you go back to politics?
Never say never, but it seems unlikely.
Looking at your own team, where would you like to expand?
Probably in our capacity to do industrial work. As some of these projects start to happen there’s going to be more need to demonstrate the industrial capacity of the UK.
What’s your dream role in communications?
It’s unlikely to happen now, but my dream role would be getting involved in comms for Fulham football club.