Victoria Volossov

MSc European Political Economy, 2011
Policy Manager, UK Civil Service (Ofgem)

Please describe your career path to date

After my degree I joined the British Embassy in Paris as a Climate and Energy Policy Officer. I worked there on a temporary contract (8 months maternity leave replacement) – I hesitated to take up a temporary position, but in hindsight this was a really good choice: I learnt so much and had excellent colleagues.

I returned to London, to work for the GB energy regulator, Ofgem. I was happy to work more on the detail of energy policy, because at the Embassy we covered many different issues. Ofgem is part of the civil service, but an independent regulator, and a good-sized organisation. This gives good opportunities to move around, and I’ve since worked in gas transmission policy and now work on wholesale gas issues. 

In my spare time, I volunteer for Asylos, an organisation that supports asylum lawyers with country background research.

Has your career path developed as you planned?  

I didn’t have fixed plans when I started working - I was sure about my area of interest, and managed to find a job there. Between my first job in Paris, and my second job in London, I was unemployed for 1.5 months. This was a strange situation for me, and had happened for the first time.

Because I’d only graduated a year earlier, I was still able to access LSE careers services. This was really helpful – we discussed my areas of interest and aspirations, and they pointed me to many useful websites with job offers tailored to my target areas. They also helped me in preparing for interviews.

Tell us about your current job   

In my job I need to be able to work both independently on distinct projects, but also as part of a larger team, which often spans across divisions and organisations. Precise communication skills are crucial (know exactly what you are talking about, which answers you need from others) – this sounds very simple, but can be tricky when you need to talk about technical, complex subjects.

My responsibilities are to manage projects, which means making rules that others need to be able to understand, agree to and follow; or I need to find problems in existing rules and solve those (usually working within a team).

Why did you choose this job?   

I chose energy regulation because I wanted to stay in the energy sector, but work on a bit more detailed aspects (as opposed to the Embassy, where we covered all sorts of climate and energy policies). I also didn’t want to have to follow a Minister’s mood – at the regulator, we can make decisions based on evidence and analysis, which means we actually get to solve the problems and produce positions. At Ofgem we also have an obligation to consult stakeholders. This means we work with others a lot, and need to achieve consensus solutions.

What do you like most about your job? Is there anything that you dislike?

I spoke about my likes above but what I sometimes dislike is that, depending on the project, I cannot see exactly what contribution I am making to society’s well-being. I imagine at an NGO I’d see more of that. 

What career plans do you have for the future?  

I’d be interested in a promotion in my current organisation in the short term. In the medium/long-term, my plans are quite open: my work experience in energy policy should be transferable to other countries in or beyond the European Union. I’d like to take advantage of my language skills and maybe work in other parts of the world. Self-employment is also an option.

Thinking back, why did you choose your degree subject and why did you choose LSE?

I was really interested in the European Union, and wanted to understand economic aspects of European policies better. Great choice to do the double degree with Sciences Po and LSE – both institutions take a completely different angle to European subjects, so I learnt a great deal content-wise, but also culture-wise! This put me in a great place to work in policy in both France and the UK.

How has your time at LSE helped you so far in your career? 

It has helped me developed useful skills such as presentations and analysing academic articles: I’ve practiced this at LSE, and this is very helpful in my job. It also introduced me to student societies: I still practice capoeira, which I started at LSE, and regularly go back to train in the Old Gym!

Finally the LSE careers service was incredibly helpful when I applied for my first job, and my second job! It was especially helpful for advice on CV formatting and interview techniques.

What advice would you give to prospective or current LSE students?   

Find out where you’d like to work, and then check out the employer on LinkedIn. Chances are high that you’ll find an LSE alumnus at working-level in that organisation (I wouldn’t go for a super senior person). In a quick message, you can mention your degree and interest in working at that employer – more often than not you’ll get a really helpful answer. For me, this helped to understand the environment I was applying to work in, which was really useful in interviews.

Choose which societies to get involved in, and get really involved. I made great friends in the Capoeira society, and still go back for training. These friendships last for life. I wish I’d understood that better during my time at LSE, and got more involved in other societies as well!

Overall, how do you look back on your LSE experience?

Very positively it was too short though! It was hard to do all the studying and all the socialising – I wish I’d been able to do more of both. I also loved having such a huge library at my fingertips. A great place to browse, and the long opening hours give you lots of flexibility to work when you want.