Shunning the Limelight: An Exclusive Interview with "Talented Generalist" and former Press Secretary to two Prime Ministers, Sarah Charman
It is an understatement to say that after 32 years in the Civil Service, with 15 years as a Press Secretary, Sarah Charman is familiar with interviews. What she is not familiar with, however, is being the subject of the interview. In her time in the Civil Service she worked for "two Prime Ministers, three Home Secretaries, four or five Cabinet Secretaries and a whole handful of Cabinet Ministers from across the political spectrum". She learned from the best. She saw "at first hand the application of power and influence and the impact of events in shaping decisions," planned and organised the government's media-communication Y2K operation, and coordinated a joint government/media report on the implications of 9/11 for communications.
You entered the civil service when you were 25. Was it something you had always wanted to do?
Like many young people I was idealistic and preferred the idea of public service to advertis-ing cornflakes. I joined the Civil Service in 1979, as I thought for 6 months, in order to save some money before I went back to America to get married - and because I thought "British Civil Service" would look good on my CV when applying for jobs in the US. Only I didn't get married so I stayed here. That was the total extent of my career planning.
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