We sat down with cooking novice and public affairs expert Claire Simmons, Strategic Elements Account Manager. In addition to coordinating business and advocacy strategies for clients nationwide, Claire is the Manager of Power Up Iowa— a statewide initiative of the American Clean Power Association. You can read our conversation below.
What drove you to be politically active in your educational and professional careers?
Government and politics are something I have been interested in since I was very young. As I got older, I realized the importance of having a meaningful career that makes a difference. Seeing my work come to fruition and make a change, big or small, is why I find such value in what I do. Working in politics presents a unique opportunity to make a difference in whatever you’re passionate about. You can interact with community leaders and decision-makers to advocate for the change you want to see.
What lesson did you learn while working at the Iowa Secretary of State’s office?
Quality and strategic messaging is the key to success. You must know your audience and adjust your messaging to best reach your audience. You must think about who you’re speaking to and put yourself in the audience’s shoes because what makes the most sense to you isn’t always what will make the most sense to them. Learning the importance of messaging has been one of the most fruitful and translatable aspects of my career thus far.
What is your favorite summer activity?
One of my most simple pleasures is eating meals outside. I take any chance I get to book a reservation on a patio, eat lunch on my deck, or drink my morning coffee on my apartment’s rooftop.
How has Strategic Elements made you a better professional?
We have a diverse group of individuals who work at Strategic Elements, so I learn something new from them every day. My colleagues come from different professional backgrounds, have different strengths, are from different parts of the country, and have different experiences than me, which I think is excellent.
What is a skill you want to learn?
I have a lot of wonderful memories of cooking and sharing meals with my grandparents growing up. Cooking and sharing a meal with others are great ways to bond and bring people together. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the value of a home-cooked meal and have begun sharpening my cooking skills (and cooking knives).
What keeps you energized at work?
Taking a walk during my lunch break and again at the end of the workday is critical for my productivity…and a few cups of coffee, of course.
What has been the most challenging part of your career?
Keeping up with rapidly changing industries. Staying on top of the news is vital in preparing for potential crises and getting ahead of competitors.
What has been the most rewarding part of your career?
I feel fortunate to utilize my degrees and skillsets in my professional career. I studied public relations and political science at Iowa State University, so my job is exactly where I want to be. Using your studies in a career isn’t seen very often, so I consider myself very lucky!
What do you feel Strategic Elements does well in the public affairs industry?
Our team isn’t made up of the same person— we all have different skills to bring to the table, which help us to succeed and offer a much broader range of services. Strategic Elements has taken remote work in stride and uses it to our advantage. Our employees are positioned around the country, which allows us to serve a broader client base and broaden our perspectives on client needs. These benefits have allowed us to create strategic results for our clients. I am proud to be a part of the Strategic Elements team!