Gareth Rice-Jones

Manager for the Department of Education

Why did you choose to study Politics with International Relations at Loughborough University?

I always wanted to study Politics and I felt that the course with IR gave you lots of flexibility over what to study. I also liked the feel of the campus and so those were the main reasons in why I chose LoughI always wanted to study Politics and I felt that the course with IR gave you lots of flexibility over what to study. I also liked the feel of the campus and so those were the main reasons in why I chose Loughboroughborough.

What did you enjoy about your course?

I enjoyed the variety of what we could study, you could focus on areas you were interested in quite quickly. I also had some amazing lecturers, one which helped inspire my dissertation and the mandatory modules were mostly pretty interesting.

The many talking points it brought outside of a university, career perspective – very current and interesting.

How has Loughborough University inspired you and helped you to progress in your career?

I think Loughborough really let me become more confident in myself through what I got involved in, whether it was debating in Model UN, chairing the Cocktail Society, or in seminars. I changed a lot in three years, as anyone does at university, but had a lot of great experiences that shaped me for the better. I have kept developing over my career and I think a few people might be surprised at how far I have come.

Would there be one piece of advice that you would give to current or prospective students looking to study Politics with International Relations?

Take every opportunity you get to try out new things. It can take some time to work out what you want out of your career, even if you think you have a good idea, there are so many avenues down that road you can try out. If someone told me when I was at university, I would lead a team of videographer, social media managers and designers for a government department I'd have probably laughed. But now I have skills across all those areas and work in an area that I am passionate about.

Did you take part in any extra-curricular activities during your studies? If so, how did this impact upon your Loughborough experience?

I took part in quite a few societies at Loughborough, had some amazing experiences, and made some friends that I still keep in touch with today. As part of my society experiences, I became Chairman of the Cocktail Society and a Vice-Chair for the Model UN Society.

Can you tell us about your career journey so far?

I spent a bit of time interning in PR agencies before I had the chance to work for an MP, which is something I had always wanted to do. After that, I made the jump into government communications starting to work in Digital communications at the then Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. I spent about 18 months there which included a secondment at Number 10 before I moved on promotion to HM Treasury. I had an amazing time leading much of the social media output at the Treasury over two and a bit years, creating animated explainers about the economy, financial services and government spending, working on five fiscal events (the Budget) and growing their Twitter followers by over 76,000. At Treasury I also got the chance to do some press work on financial services and the economy, writing press releases, briefing journalists and prepping ministers for interviews. After that I joined the Department for Education (my current role) to manage a team to lead their social media activity across all their policy areas and campaigns.

Can you tell us more about your current role?

My current role is managing a team to develop and manage the social media content and activity for the Department for Education. This is everything from campaigns on areas like apprenticeships or tackling child abuse through to day to day announcements on our policy areas. My day can be pretty varied, but the main goal is to ensure we are developing the best content to engage with our audiences. From working with other government departments on top priorities, to photographing ministers wearing odd socks for anti-bullying week, to filming Lydia Bright from TOWIE about our fostering and adoption work - every day is different.

What do you love the most about your job?

The thing I love most about my job is making a difference. Throughout all my government roles be it business, the PMs agenda, the economy or education, I get to work on areas that change lives every day. It isn't just about hawking some product but the things we get to communicate affect lives across the country so it’s crucial we get it right.

What does the future hold for you?

In the short term I want to build on the great work I am doing with my team, creating shareable, interesting and innovative content on issues that matter. Longer term, I hope to step up and become Head of Digital for one of the Whitehall departments I am passionate about. I have had the privilege to work with some really talented people in my career and I look forward to building and leading a larger team to make a difference.

What has been the proudest moment of your career so far?

It's hard to pick my proudest moment but probably bettering the statistics for our content at Budget each time I did one. I led on developing the social media content and it was great to be able to see the whole Budget come together and manage the creation and clearance of the graphics. I got to change and improve the content as I developed as a designer and learnt more with my team, so it is great to feel you improved things in your time. Any fiscal event or Budget is a huge undertaking for the team with a lot of late nights but it's all worth it when you get the pay off at the end seeing it all come together.