Tom Rutland is a Public Affairs Officer.
Tell us about your role at Imperial
I work as a Public Affairs Officer in the Communications and Public Affairs division, which means I work on making sure Imperial’s expertise helps to influence government policy. I started my job at Imperial in 2017.
What were you doing before joining Imperial?
I previously worked in Parliament and in London local government – and started off my working life as a student union sabbatical officer, so higher education public affairs is a natural fit for me.
What do you like about working at Imperial?
There are a lot of hardworking and talented staff working here and I thrive off of working with people who are so passionate and smart.
It’s great to work for a science-focused institution like Imperial – it’s fascinating to hear about the latest treatments and breakthroughs and meet researchers across the College pushing back the frontiers of scientific discovery.
I feel really comfortable talking about my sexuality at work. I came out as gay nearly seven years ago and I’ve had no problems relating to my sexuality whilst working at Imperial.
I actively mention and talk about my partner, it’s comes up naturally in conversation, and it has been great to see other LGBT+ colleagues doing this too – you can’t overestimate the importance of authentic role models in the workplace. I think that confidence and visibility is really reassuring for new LGBT+ staff.
What would you change at Imperial?
I would like to see more visible LGBT+ people in senior roles across the College. It would also be great to see more funding given to staff networks like Imperial 600, so that they can put on more events and activities for the LGBT+ community at Imperial.
Are you inspired by any LGBT+ role models?
Harvey Milk – he was an American politician and the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, who gave an incredible speech about giving young gay people hope. Sadly his life was cut short when he was assassinated, but he helped to pave the way for gays and lesbians in the US to serve in public life by championing civil rights for gay people.
If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Everything will be okay: stop worrying and get on with your life. There’s nothing you need to compensate or apologise for.