Chloe Watson

Senior Policy Advisor

I studied A Levels in Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Spanish at Collyer’s from 2007-2009. Looking back at my time here Collyer’s was a great steppingstone between school and university, with freedom to manage my own time and workload but plenty of support on-hand if needed too.

I went onto study a BSc in Biochemistry, with a year in Industry, at the University of Bristol, and then was accepted onto the Graduate Trainee Programme at the Wellcome Trust. Moving onto the British Heart foundation, I took on the role of Policy Officer and then Policy Manager. I decided to take a year out to study and undertook an MSc in Global Health at Maastricht University, in the Netherlands. I then returned to Wellcome Trust where I became a Senior Policy Advisor.

Wellcome is a global charitable foundation that supports Science to help solve three urgent health challenges – mental health, infectious disease, and climate change. Our team’s role is to help ensure that policy decisions made by governments are positive ones for scientific research and for our health. We try to influence the public policies and processes that affect how research is done and how this research is used to protect and improve people’s health around the world. To do this, we analyse what needs to change in the world and who has the power to change it. We then build a case for change, based on evidence, and advocate for it.

Every day looks slightly different but on a typical day, you can probably find me at my desk in the Wellcome office or at home reading the news to keep up to date on the policy areas we care about or analysing evidence to help form the team’s view on a policy topic and what needs to change. I can be writing papers or briefings to communicate our positions in a compelling way, speaking to other organisations to understand how we could work together or meeting with government officials to share what we think needs to change.

I love getting to work on interesting and topical issues, from global access to Covid-19 vaccines to the impact of climate change on health and using problem-solving skills to produce policy recommendations. I recently attended the World Health Assembly in Geneva, where governments get together to discuss the biggest issues in global health.

To fulfil my role the key skills are analysis – being able to quickly find, read and digest evidence from trustworthy sources and work out what it means for the organisation or topic you are working on; communication – getting your message across clearly and compellingly both in person and in writing; relationship building – working in partnership with other organisations and building consensus.

People enter policy careers from lots of different types of background, from Politics to History to Science. Policy roles exist in charities, Think Tanks, industry and within government itself. Look out for internships, placements, and graduate trainee schemes to gain some experience. Lots of people also start their careers working as political assistants in Westminster. Take a look at Work for MP for inspiration.

Looking back, the advice I would give to a younger self is you do not have to have your whole career mapped out at the age of 18, or even 28, 38 or 48! When I was at Collyer’s, I did not know anything about the world of policy or that you could forge a career in it. Just pick something you enjoy, and you will not go too far wrong.

What next Chloe? I know that I would like to continue working in the fields of Science and Health and would like to experience working in government itself at some point in the future. Other than that, I am going to take my own advice and continue to look out for opportunities that look interesting and that I think might enjoy!