Principal/Senior Policy Adviser, Trade

Location:Greater London

Role summary

The CBI is the UK's leading business lobbying organisation and a powerful voice in UK policy debates. With offices throughout the UK, Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI promotes its members’ interests at regional, national, European and international level. As the UK lead for the B7 grouping of international business organisations and active player in B20, OECD and WTO, the CBI is the international voice of British business.

Working across all the CBI’s international offices, the CBI’s Trade team is responsible for developing insight and intelligence on the UK’s international trade outlook, and influencing UK trade policy in a business-friendly direction. This includes helping Member companies input into trade deals and opening opportunities for exports via market access work and support for the multilateral system.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has created new opportunities and challenges for the government’s trade agenda; this role offers a unique opportunity to work with companies to shape and influence trade and investment policy to support long-term economic growth and equip companies with the insights they need to succeed post Brexit.

Based out of our London office, and reporting to the Head of Trade Policy (non-EU), the Principal or Senior Policy Advisor, will be responsible for developing robust analysis, evidence-based policy recommendations and campaign plans that respond to CBI member needs. The post holder will be expected to engage with senior business representatives and government officials, as well as contribute to commercial opportunities in the CBI’s wider work. He or she will be expected to work fairly and effectively with a small team across three continents, which draws on a diverse range of nationalities and cultures.

Depending on the profile of candidates, the CBI will recruit at either Principal Policy Adviser or Senior Policy Adviser level.

Key responsibilities

Support the CBI’s London-based work on international trade policy

  • Working closely with colleagues in other CBI country offices, the post holder will lead work on
    • Asia, including UK business input into UK Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Japan, Australia and New Zealand and future FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam.
    • Global Market access work, which seeks to tackle barriers to trade and investment in countries where trade deals aren’t yet possible, particularly India and China
    • Import tariff policy, including follow up to the UK Government’s consultation on the new UK Global Tariff and tariff aspects of free ports.
    • B7 summit in 2021, which CBI is hosting, and B20.
  • This work will include in-depth policy analysis, research, engagement with CBI members and wider stakeholders including foreign governments and think tanks, organising senior level events as well as writing reports, drafting press releases, articles, tweets and blogs.

Work effectively with businesses and colleagues across the CBI

  • The post holder will engage effectively and collaboratively with senior representatives from the business community and colleagues across the CBI, including account managers and staff in CBI country offices.
  • This work includes involving CBI members in policy formation, keeping them up to date with policy developments or changes which relate to their specific interests, and producing high-quality analytical work which support CBI campaigns.
  • The post holder will be expected to take ownership of specific projects or events and build partnerships to deliver. He or she will work closely with the membership team to secure new members and help retain existing ones.
  • Keeping the team and senior management team informed on key issues will also be essential.
  • The post holder will also seek innovative ways to maximise our member service and contribute to the trade team’s commercial goals, including ways to generate fee-paid revenue through events or training.

Maintain relationships with relevant stakeholders

  • The post holder will build and maintain productive relationships with external contacts including relevant officials within governments, members of parliament and wider business and nongovernmental stakeholders with an interest in trade policy.
  • This will include representing the CBI at meetings to influence policy, both in the UK and abroad, as well as preparing and delivering presentations.

Knowledge and experience

What an individual must know or understand to be able to fulfil the role’s requirements.

  • Achieved a 2:1 at degree level or equivalent is essential
  • A master’s degree in a public policy related field is desirable but not essential
  • Understanding of UK and EU political institutions and the broad political landscape is essential
  • Knowledge of trade policy dynamics is essential, and experience of commercial trading is desirable
  • Experience of working with a diverse range of stakeholders, including with senior figures is essential
  • Strong commercial awareness and understanding of business processes is essential
  • The level appointment of the role will depend on work experience in a similar role, for example: public policy, public affairs, commercial exporting, economics, or law.


The practical actions required to be able to fulfil the role’s requirements.

  • Excellent research and analysis
  • Excellent written communication, including the ability to pull out a key narrative and land persuasive arguments, in different formats from tweets to policy papers
  • Clear and persuasive oral communication and presentation
  • Effective at planning, organisational and time management
  • Strong interpersonal, teamwork and influencing abilities
  • IT literacy (Microsoft, MS Office).


The behaviours and characteristics required to be able to fulfil the role’s requirements.

  • Collaborative– Listening, seeking views and sharing information; constructively challenging when appropriate
  • Taking ownership– Ensuring delivery and holding others to account; can influence, irrespective of hierarchy
  • Agile– Proactive and responsive to provide a strong member service; responding positively to shifting priorities
  • Commercial– Awareness of the wider business environment
  • Innovative– Exploring, sharing and integrating best practice; generating new ideas and challenging a mind-set of “what we’ve always done”
  • Analytical– gathering information and using logic to analyse, problem solve, evaluate risk and make decisions.

Equal opportunity employer

Our aim is to create prosperity for all. To do that well, we need a workforce that is more representative of the businesses we serve.

We know through experience that different ideas, perspectives and backgrounds create a stronger and more innovative work environment that delivers better results. To support an inclusive environment where employees feel empowered to share their experiences and ideas, we’ve encouraged the creation of a variety of Employee Resource Groups - Women, LGBT+, BAME and Working Families.

We recognise the many benefits flexible working can bring. Many of our employees work flexibly in many different ways, including part-time. Please talk to us at interview about the flexibility you need. We can’t promise to give you exactly what you want, but we do promise not to judge you for asking and will accommodate where possible.

How to apply

Please submit your CV and cover letter with 'Principal/Senior Policy Adviser'as the subject.