Working in a Constituency Office for an elected Member can include a number of varied job roles such as Parliamentary Assistant, Office Manager, Casework and Communications. We wanted to find out a bit more about what it takes to work in a busy constituency office and took the opportunity to quiz Lisa Donovan on her role as a Constituency Office Manager for National Assembly for Wales member David Rees AM.
Lisa is based in the constituency office in Port Talbot, South Wales. Her role is varied and dynamic often responding to political events as they unfold, making it difficult to characterise a standard day. As with most political roles, the job requires the post holder to be responsive, adaptable and flexible to meet the demands of the role.
Key skills for the role involve being proactive, a capable communicator, an enthusiastic team-member/manager and the ability to prioritise tasks and manage your own workload to meet the demands of those relying upon you.
Here is Lisa talking about her role.
Lisa Donovan Constituency Office Manager
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Lisa Donovan and I am the Constituency Office Manager, currently for David Rees AM, and have been in this role for 19 years, previously working for Brian Gibbons who was then Assembly Member from 1999 to 2011.
What are your day to day duties as an Office Manager
My day to day duties as an Office Manager include managing and coordinate support services, including administration and casework for the Assembly Member. Key tasks include:
- leading and motivating the staff team, undertaking administrative and casework within the constituency and managing the Member’s budgets.
- coordinate office activities to ensure that telephone and electronic enquiries and visitors are dealt with accordingly.
- Draft letters, briefings and reports on behalf of the Assembly Member, on a range of issues whilst ensuring compliance with data protection legislation and Standing Orders to protect the Assembly Member.
- Ensure that the constituency office conforms to all health, safety and welfare requirements.
- Represent the member by dealing with the media, constituents and other outside bodies.
What made you apply for your current role?
I have been a Labour Party member for a considerable number of years and was a Labour activist. Following the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales and the election of Brian Gibbons as AM for Aberavon, the job came up and I jumped at the chance to become more involved in new National Assembly for Wales, and I haven’t looked back since.
What is the best and most interesting part of the job?
The best part and most interesting part of the job is meeting people and being able to make a difference by helping people who are having difficulties, helping organisations and businesses improve and grow. Also by just being at the end of the telephone for people to get the help and advice they need at the time they need it.
What skills, qualities and experience do you think are essential to the role?
I think the skills, qualities and experience essential to the role are the ability to investigate, analyse and recommend solutions to complex problems and issues whilst using excellent organisational and planning skills. Typing skills are essential and the ability to communicate clearly and effectively with elected members at all levels, from Cabinet Ministers to local Councillors as well as with local government officers, civil servants, Assembly Commission staff etc. You should be able to manage a demanding workload with conflicting priorities and be able to use a range of office software, including word processing, the internet, desktop publishing and presentation packages use relevant casework management software.
You should be able to demonstrate commitment and understanding of the role of the National Assembly for Wales in promoting equality and working with diverse groups in developing the work required to advance the needs of the Assembly Member and demonstrate sensitivity and ensure that the highest standards of confidentiality are upheld.
An understanding of the need to reflect the views of the Assembly Member in a manner which reflects equal opportunity and is not inflammatory, insensitive, libelous, slanderous or defamatory is essential. Also an understanding of current affairs and issues of relevance to Wales, an interest in the Welsh political system
What top tips would you give to someone looking to get into the role?
Be pleasant, approachable, smartly dressed, speak clearly and concisely and most of all be empathetic
Many thanks to Lisa for taking the time to answer our questions about there role.
If you would like to apply for an Office Manager role or other constituency office vacancies, please click here.