After working in a political environment for almost 16 years, Renee Thompson gradually transitioned into consulting. Her company Thompson Trust is a boutique government and political affairs advisory firm. Here, she talks to Go Hustle writer Ondela Mlandu about why she chose this type of work, and what you need to know to crack it in this industry.
Renee is passionate about making a difference in people’s lives…
Renee started an NGO with her three sisters called Susters 4 Life, with the aim of empowering women, especially single mothers in rural areas in the Western Cape. Other than her NGO, Thompson Trust provides hands-on strategic advice and support to clients based on advocacy, stakeholder positioning and outreach work.
Her advice on getting into the industry
A good place to start is in communication, stakeholder management, or government liaison, says Renee. “Two of the most important skills for this line of work [are] being able to work with people and [persistence]. My prior work experience made my transition into the lobbying and advocacy space a lot smoother,” she says.
How to apply for a career in politics
To get into politics or to work in parliament, follow parliament, the Presidency, government departments and various political parties on Twitter – it’s the best way to know when internships and positions are available. “Every year, parliament and different departments in government have intern positions for graduates, which are advertised on the parliamentary website. You can also register your CV with Parliament,” she advises.
Renee is a member of the Institute of Directors of Southern Africa (IoDSA), which offers amazing support in the form of networking opportunities, workshops, and lectures on business and good governance.
It’s still a tough career for women though
“[This industry] is still very male-dominated and, as females, we have to be more qualified than our male counterparts, while earning less than they do,” she adds.
Master these leadership lessons
1/ “Stop multitasking. Focus on what matters and where you can make a difference.”
2/ “From experience, I’ve learnt that it is carefully chosen actions that deliver the best results.”
3/ “Follow the news. Be informed about what is happening in the country.”
A book every woman should read…
Here’s how Renee does self-care
It’s all about spending time with her family and girl gang!