Louis Holt, class of 2020
- Louis Holt © LH
Can you describe your academic and professional background before the Master in Public Affairs (MPA)?
I spent five years working for the British Government on various different strands of digital policy. For the two years before I began the MPA I was the Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and was fortunate enough to advise four different Cabinet Ministers on all aspects of the UK's digital and tech policy agenda. As any prospective MPA students and fellow policy junkies will know, it was a really fascinating time to work at the centre of the UK Government, and great to see the global importance of tech policy grow so quickly in such a short space of time.
In terms of my academic background, I had a Bachelor's degree in Geography, but the MPA was my first Master's.
You graduated last spring. What is your current professional situation? What are its main features?
Unfortunately my original plan to do some travelling and explore many different career options didn't quite go to plan thanks to a certain virus!
I am now back working for the UK Government, but from my apartment in Paris. I was able to get a promotion and am now leading the UK's Gigabit Broadband and Mobile policy teams, making sure all corners of the country have access to next-generation communications infrastructure - certainly more important now so many people are working and studying online!
I would also add that many of my fellow students have also succeeded in securing fascinating new roles, whether for international organisations such as the OECD, global tech companies or consultancies. Some have even managed to work in French despite arriving with only a basic understanding of the language!
What were the contributions of your training to the function that you hold today?
I don't think it's an overstatement to say I feel the benefit of my studies almost every day. My current job involves working very closely with analysts and economists and being able to speak their language has massively helped me to interrogate complex policy problems. My current role is my first experience of full team leadership so having learnt organisational design techniques and how best to motivate public sector employees has been really useful.
I was taught to write better by professional journalists and how to use psychological techniques and Randomised Controlled Trials to improve and evaluate policies, as well as new working methods such as design thinking and Scrum. All of this sets me apart from my peers at work and has empowered me to be a much better policymaker.
Why would you recommend the MPA to other young professionals?
The course content in itself is fascinating and the curriculum is very modern. There's lots of scope for personalisation so I ended up doing some modules on Populism and others on how Artificial Intelligence is affecting the art world. The lecturers at Sciences Po are almost all guest lecturers so they all have really interesting backgrounds and are happy to share advice and guidance on career matters. I was taught entrepreneurship by the president of Olympique Marseilles, and others in my cohort secured internships through their teachers.
Beyond that, you have access to the full range of talks and events taking place at Sciences Po. There are always really interesting speakers visiting and you often get the chance to interact with them - I ended up having a beer with Alexis Tsipras for example!
I also really enjoyed the experience of moving to Paris. I've lived in London almost all of my life and so experiencing a new city and language was amazing. I really enjoyed discovering new spots all over town and there's a reason I'm still living here. If I'm honest, the bread alone is a reason to come!
Above all though, the best thing about the MPA is the cohort of students you study with. I'm absolutely certain that I've made friends for life, and being able to spend a year studying in the company of such fascinating people is such a treat. When I started the MPA it felt like the only issue in the world was Brexit, but meeting fellow students from Chile and Lebanon really put this into perspective. In my class were army captains, civil engineers and a future president of Kenya, to name just a few. Even though the course is only a year, I've made memories that will last a lifetime, and every time I get the chance to reflect on it, my only regret is that the course didn't last longer.
- The Master in Public Affairs of the School of Public Affairs