Interview with Sophia Greenblat-Tal – Public Affairs Officer, Cancer Research UK

Inspired by International Women’s Day, at Grayling we wanted to shine a light on the incredible women in the Public Affairs industry and the work they do.

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of interviews with inspirational women across the Public Affairs industry, discussing their careers and their experiences so far, how we can make the industry more inclusive, welcoming and progressive – for both men and women – as well as their predictions for the year ahead in politics. This week, we spoke to Sophia Greenblat-Tal, Public Affairs Officer at Cancer Research UK.


Coming to the UK as an international student in 2016 after having lived in 5 different countries, Sophia began working in public affairs in 2018. In the last 5 years, she has worked on a variety of campaigns, from Brexit to animal rights. She also helped train Conservative Prospective Parliamentary candidates. Recently she joined Cancer Research UK as their Public Affairs Officer, focusing on prevention. She currently works on their Smokefree UK campaign.

What attracted you to a career in public affairs?
I got into public affairs a bit by accident. I had planned to get into Academia, but when I got a part-time role in a public affairs agency, it was very clear that I had found my place. I always wanted to do work that changed the world, or at least my bit of it. I also love people: how different they are, their different stories and why they think the way they do. This job is a lot about listening to people, understanding their motivations and trying to find common ground, so you can get something done, be that for a client or for a cause.

What does IWD mean to you?
Where I come from, International Women’s Day is not just about discussing the issues that affect women. It is about celebrating women and their achievements. We are very lucky that the women who came before us paved the way for us to be able to do what we do. It was only just over a century ago that women in this country first got the vote. International Women’s Day is about celebrating them and celebrating us.

What advice would you give to women who want a career public affairs?
Do it! Not because it is easy, but because it is hard. It is not the boy’s club it once was, but you will encounter adversity. We all do. However, we need people of all perspectives in this field. Bring your own, speak your mind, learn from others and never let anyone make your voice small.

What has been your career highlight to date?
Getting my current job at Cancer Research UK. This job lets me do amazing work for the most amazing cause.

What are your predictions for the coming year in politics?

  • Hopefully no General Elections quite yet, but I do think the Local Elections will be tilted very much in Labour’s favour.
  • The Conservative manifesto will try to appeal to the voters it won in 2019, with token policies for young people like stronger environmental policies.
  • I also expect some unexpected announcement from MPs who are choosing not to stand in 2024.
  • Regardless of who wins the SNP leadership, the SNP’s grip on Scotland will loosen more and more, with Labour rising in the polls.

How can the public affairs industry deliver on IWD theme of embracing gender equity?
Give women female mentors. I find mentorship to be one of the most productive forms of learning and development. Mentorship from other women is even better. They know what it is like to be in your shoes, so they can give better advice.