Niva Thiruchelvam, Law graduate
Niva Thiruchelvam (NT), graduated from QMUL with a law degree in 2003 and began her career with the Civil Service Fast Stream in 2007. Since then she’s had a variety of interesting and exciting jobs, from running Oliver Letwin’s office in the Cabinet Office to negotiating EU-level changes to Free Movement policy.
She spoke to Yasmine Hafiz (YH) about her career journey.
YH: How did you become interested in the Civil Service?
NT: I fell into a career in the Civil Service. I’d read law at QMUL, and the natural next step would have been to go to law school, and then to become a barrister or a solicitor, but that didn’t hit the spot for me.
While I thought about what I wanted to do, I took various jobs, including one in the then Department for Constitutional Affairs. It was an excellent introduction to the world of policy in the Civil Service, and I loved it. I’d never really thought about the huge amount of work that went on behind the scenes to make things happen – from the conception of an idea, through to legislation in Parliament, and so on.
I discovered that the Civil Service offered a wide range of roles within each department, and that really appealed to someone like me. It’s an ideal path for someone who’s interested in everything, so I applied for the Fast Stream and my Civil Service career began there.
YH: What kind of jobs have you had within the Fast Stream?
NT: My first Fast Stream role was in the Department for Constitutional Affairs (now Ministry of Justice), getting stuck into Scottish devolution and how Scotland’sconstitutional arrangements might be strengthened. I helped to set up and support a cross-party, independent Commission reviewing Scotland’s devolution settlement. As part of this, I led work on communications – this ranged from running town hall events in the most remote parts of Scotland to developing a media strategy that encompassed print, broadcast and social media and involved liaising with the political editors of the major Scottish newspapers.