My Office: Lydia Edmonds

In our latest ‘My Office’ Lydia Edmonds (Politics, 2012) takes us behind the scenes at Downing Street. As Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Business Team, Lydia has a unique insight into the world behind the doors of Number 10, where she has worked since 2020.

My Office - Lydia Edmonds

Name: Lydia Edmonds
Job: Deputy Head of the Prime Minister’s Business Team
Office: Downing Street

Hello Lydia! Can you tell us about your career journey to this point?

It was very much course first rather than having any specific career plans. I didn’t know exactly what the end job that I wanted was, but during my GCSEs/A-levels I realised that Politics appealed to me as a course as I was fascinated by the subject. I thought it was a good opportunity to study something I was interested in and enjoyed, but didn’t pigeon-hole me.

I joined a PR agency on a graduate scheme after finishing my degree at Nottingham - there were a number around the country but one in London focussing on corporate and crisis reputation management stood out. It was quite a rigorous application scheme, a bit like The Apprentice!

I was there for 14-15 months, during which time I had started to work with government press offices on joint campaigns and I thought their work was very interesting. I then applied for a Press Officer role at the then Department for Business, via the Civil Service Jobs website.


Tell us where your office is now and what’s your day job?

I work in Downing Street, behind the black door! It’s a buzzy, exciting place to be as there’s always something going on, whether it’s a visiting Head of State, a meeting of the Cabinet or a reception to honour people who achieved incredible things.

The road is actually a few houses knocked together, so you can walk through from Number 11 right to the end of the road. It’s an inspiring place to work, you step outside your office to be greeted by incredible artworks, Winston Churchill’s armchair, the Cabinet Room – it’s a privilege to work in the building.

My job is in the Prime Minister's business team, which, like all teams in Number 10, is a small team mixed of Civil Servants and political appointees - Special Advisers.

Our team exists to connect the Prime Minister with businesses of all sizes, from across the UK and globally. We meet with business to understand their concerns so we can use first-hand knowledge to inform and shape the Government’s work.

Any one day can be a mix of writing advice to go to the Prime Minister, organising an event, meeting with business leaders in sectors as varied as Artificial Intelligence to Agriculture and feeding into policy advice.


Was there one career-defining moment which enabled you to follow your current path?

I think it wasn’t necessarily one ‘defining moment’ but I’ve tried to always say yes when an opportunity presents itself! My mentor said to always seize opportunities when they happen.

Being able to shape your CV in ways you don’t necessarily design enables you to become a more rounded person. It also perhaps helps you try things you wouldn’t have ordinarily had the guts to consider.

How would your colleagues describe you?
They’d probably say I don’t make enough tea!

What would you say are the key character traits of someone who does your job?

Someone who is happy to muck in! In my role, one minute you might be doing something like briefing the Prime Minister and then you’ve got to go and do some admin. There’s no room for egos when you work in a small place. You have to enjoy communicating and meeting new people, as we have to quickly build a rapport.


What’s the one thing about your office which you most love or hate?

I work with some incredible people in my immediate team, but also in the wider office. People with fascinating experience and a real commitment to public service.

You think Number 10’s going to be like (political satire) The Thick of It, whereas actually it’s a very supportive place, where people know one another are trying to always deliver their best.


Have you got one highlight of your time working in your role so far?

My team worked on the Global Investment Summit in 2021, a large event which brought together some of the most influential investors in the world. As part of that we hosted a reception with the late Queen at Windsor Castle. It was an honour to be there as a team, but it was also just so fantastic to see these brilliant titans of industry from all over the world being so excited about the privilege of meeting The Queen. It was one of those pinch me moments.

Is there one thing you couldn’t live without?
The canteen in the basement! It’s open very early in the morning and they cook fantastic poached eggs.

One piece of advice for someone who wants to work in an office like yours?

Be interested in politics, so doing things like watching Prime Minister's Question Time, listening to the radio, and just ensure that you do love it because I think that's the thing that really makes it special.

Take opportunities that round out your CV. So while in some careers it's a really good idea to be specialist, somewhere like Number 10 and in the Civil Service, it's actually better to be more varied. So if you find an opportunity to do something that is quite different from your current role, seize that, even if it seems a bit terrifying!

How do you take your tea?

Probably cold. But that's more about my 1 year old! But normally I take my tea quite strong. No sugar, just a little bit of milk.

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