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A public policy director is a person who works to influence governmental policies at the local, state, and national levels for a company or non-profit organization. The executive management team will determine on which policies to focus, and instruct the director accordingly. In most cases, the public policy director is a part of this team, and helps to influence the main objectives of the job. Successful applicants for these positions will likely have a background in law or political science, and usually have experience as a lobbyist to some extent.
Those who seek to become a public policy director often will earn a Master's degree or Ph.D. in public policy. This advanced degree not only provides a solid background in political science, but also builds skills on relationship building and persuasion. This is especially important when dealing with elected officials, who may be asked to justify a vote to their constituency. Often, a director must not only justify why a position is good for a particular business or industry, but for the general public as well.
Often, before becoming a public policy director, an individual will serve in some other capacity, and prove he or she can be trusted with greater responsibility. Those especially attractive for these positions may have served in congressional offices or worked for a lobbyist. In both cases, such individuals know who to contact in order to get results. Therefore, efforts can be tailored to target these policy makers.
In addition to these work experiences, those involved in public relations careers also may see a natural shift into public policy work. Often, these individuals may have contacts already established. Further, many have developed effective communication skills, and are able to develop a good relationship with many people.
Once a public policy director is hired, the individual may spend part of the time at the company offices, and part of the time at a location where laws or policies are made. Often, the director will choose to locate where he or she will be spending the majority of time. This eliminates being away from family any longer than is absolutely necessary. The amount of required travel can vary significantly depending on the company so it is important for candidates to understand what is expected during the application process.
In addition to lobbying efforts, the public policy director often advises the company on legal matters, and possibly matters of ethics. Often, this is simply because the director is well versed in these areas, and often knows the law, whether or not the individual has ever served as an attorney. Therefore, to some degree, the public policy director often takes on an advisory capacity for the company.