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Career profile: Lord Chris Holmes MBE

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Get to know your peers through our career profile series. We speak to Future Talent 2017 speaker Baron Holmes of Richmond - Great Britain's most successful Paralympic swimmer - about the day he became a Lord, a typical day in the office, and his favourite career moment so far.

The day I became a Lord...

It was in August 2013. I’d been asked to expect a call from the government between 4-8pm, – reminiscent of home delivery arrangements, but with a more anxious wait. I assumed it was something to do with the London 2012 legacy.

When the phone rang at 7:52pm, and it was the (then) prime minister, David Cameron, surprised would be an understatement. I had worked with him and the cabinet during the 2012 Games but wasn’t expecting him to call. He asked If I would join his team in the House of Lords. I was blown away – but had no difficulty in answering immediately.

Three months later I was ermine-clad and swearing an oath in front of the despatch box in the House of Lords.

My typical day

I get into the office at around 8.30am and prepare for the day. The House sits Monday to Thursday from 2.30pm-10pm; the latest I’ve worked is 1.30am, so we can end at any time, depending on the legislation being considered.

On Tuesdays...

I attend Select Committee meetings; I’m currently working on the Financial Exclusion Select Committee and have been a member of the Digital Skills and Social Mobility Select Committees. At 2.30pm, the Lords sitting begins with 30 minutes of questions, prepared in advance. They can be on any subject and the relevant government minister is called to the dispatch box to answer them.

I have questioned the government on issues such as international student visas, employment figures, the sharing economy, policy changes and access to premier league stadia for disabled people.

My team

From security to doorkeepers, clerks and library staff, we enjoy superb support in the Lords. My parliamentary assistant is invaluable, she runs my office and keeps me on track. Last, never least, is my guide dog Lottie, the first guide dog in the House of Lords. She is greeted far more often (and enthusiastically) than I am!

What I love most about my job

The sheer variety and having the opportunity to influence on a local, national and international level.

The most challenging part

Getting stuck into the parliamentary stuff alongside roles as deputy chancellor of BPP University, non-executive director at Channel 4, diversity adviser to the civil service, public speaking and running an insights and change consultancy. It takes prioritising and long days.

My proudest career moment

Being a director at London 2012, leading the team that planned and delivered the Paralympic Games. 

Best career advice to live by

Believe in yourself and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Have a vision and get people around you to make it a reality. 

Favourites

 

  • My down time: I love music, from Marillion to the Smiths, a bit of classical, good old pop and a huge hulk of rock
  • Food: Fish and chips, and sushi
  • Sports Team: Team GB and Paralympics GB in 2012 and 2016; here's to 2020!
  • Advice: My dad telling me to work hard
  • Place in the world: Switzerland: great skiing, environment, mountains and cheese
  • Memories: Getting a snooker table when I was seven; the closing ceremony at 2012; and the last race in Barcelona 1992
  • Next career goal: To write a book
Sarah Clark

By Sarah Clark

Changeboard

Online features editor at Changeboard

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