Meet the team

Matthew Leydon catches up with CILEX Journal to talk about how his research and data analysis work helps the policy and public affairs team better understand members working lives and how a twist of fate led to him joining CILEX

What does your role as a policy research analyst involve?

I’m here to ensure that CILEX’s policy, public affairs and practice support functions are underpinned by effective data analysis, research, administration and support. In practice, this means a focus on designing, distributing and analysing surveys, as well as developing tools to help the policy and public affairs team collaborate more effectively.

Tell us a bit more about your background. How did you come to work at CILEX?

I grew up in Bedford, leaving to study for a degree in European politics, society and economics at universities in Birmingham and Amsterdam. On graduation I moved to London, working in bars and pubs whilst volunteering for charities campaigning to change the discourse on drugs in the UK, from a criminal issue to a health issue.

I eventually moved back to my home town and started working in a local restaurant. It was there that I got into a friendly conversation with a table of four, chatting about my degree and my time living in Amsterdam. The group happened to work for CILEX, and it was not long after they had left that I received a message on Facebook asking me if I would be interested in interviewing for a position in the policy team.

It was a great opportunity – I successfully interviewed for the job and am now lucky enough to work with most of the table I served that day. It was very much a case of being in the right place at the right time.

What is a typical day like for you?

I’ll start off with a scan of our stakeholders, including regulators, public bodies, Parliament, government and news outlets. We monitor over 300 sources but I have developed tools that allow us to scan through a day’s news in less than an hour or so.

Next I’ll generally get on with some smaller tasks, perhaps checking if there are any edits that need to be made to the CILEX website or carrying out any smaller data and analysis requests.

Providing I am not in meetings, I’ll then tackle my larger projects in the afternoon. That might be developing new online tools for the policy or corporate compliance teams or getting stuck into some analysis of member survey data.

I’ll finish off the day with another scan of our key sources, just to see if I have missed anything that might have popped up in Parliament during the day.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am focused on improving the existing systems we use to monitor our policy and public affairs work, including tailoring and expanding the use of our policy and research database, which acts as a knowledge hub for all work we have carried out since 2012.

This will provide CILEX staff with a hub where they can easily access any information they need without having to sift through mounds of documents and emails. 

I am also working on the technological aspects of our specialist reference groups to further improve the ways we engage with CILEX members on policy and practice issues.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the people I work with, particularly the policy, public affairs and compliance teams who I’ve come to know so well over the four years. I enjoy how challenging my role is, and knowing that whatever I come up against, I have the support of my manager and team, who will help and encourage me.

The best thing about my job is knowing that in my own small way I am making a difference to the working lives of CILEX members. Through surveys, feedback and events, I am able to analyse, dissect and communicate the problems members are facing, producing reports which are tailored, expanded upon and eventually delivered by CILEX to our stakeholders and the government.

Knowing that members’ voices are being heard and communicated is a truly great feeling and is one of the main reasons why I wanted to get into policy and advocacy in the first place.

What do you like to do away from your job to relax or have fun?

I enjoy building and working on PCs and watching movies and TV shows. I also love to play sports and I am hoping to get back into hockey and water polo in the coming year as I’ve had too long a break.

During lockdown, I finally found the ‘oomph’ to learn how to cook, or how to cook anything other than what I learnt at university. And of course, I can’t help but continue practising my hospitality skills by making cocktails for my friends.