We were honoured to meet Imran Shafi, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister in the unique setting of one of the most iconic properties in the world, 10 Downing Street.
Patchworkers were first given a fantastic tour of the building, which included weird and wonderful facts and anecdotes, bringing the building to life. The most memorable part of which was walking through the front door at Number 10, as it invoked a great sense of pride.
The session itself was hosted in one of the many grand dining rooms, as Patchworkers sat in the same very seats, previously occupied by a plethora of world leaders. The focus of the session was to glean insights from the Private Secretary, exploring his journey through both the public and private sector, and understand his position in the Downing Street machine. Being an employee of a big professional services firm, similar to the Private Secretary during a previous employment, I was keen to understand the differences between big institutions in the private and public sector, and how one uses their professional skills to thrive in two contrasting environments.
Two key moments of the Masterclass stood out. Firstly, the Private Secretary explained the importance of ensuring every meeting has a purpose to maximise efficiency. Having been in a number of seemingly pointless meetings, this is something I will definitely take away and implement. Secondly, on a more personal note, the Private Secretary described his parents pride and happiness when he took them on a tour of 10 Downing Street, shortly after his employment. He explained that his parents would never have believed that a first generation immigrant to the U.K., no less their own son, could be playing such an important role in the running of the nation. As someone from a similar South Asian background, this is something that really resonated with me.
Finally – we were able to get those all-important photos outside the Number 10 front door!
I would like to thank the Private Secretary for giving up his own time, during an extremely busy period in British Politics, as well as all those at Downing Street who were so hospitable and welcoming. Without such efforts, these extremely unique opportunities would not be available.
Written by Faheem Musa