Visible Women

What it’s like to be a counter terrorism and security expert

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Moya Lothian-McLean
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Work/Life is Stylist’s regular column about the professional routines of successful women. Here, we hear from Claire Green, 41, a Home Office counter terrorism and security expert. She lives in London with her husband and two-year-old son. 

My alarm goes off…

At 6am. I always check my emails and the news headlines before my son wakes up, but I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio – it’s too distracting with a two-year-old. For work, I wear smart clothes; I love Roksanda and Max Mara. I wear Nicholas Kirkwood flats for the commute, then put on Gianvito Rossi heels in the office. My style gives me confidence. I leave at 7.30am and pick up porridge and coffee on my commute.

I’m responsible for…

Helping find solutions to national security challenges, such as protecting large crowds from terrorist attacks and responding to threats from organised crime. At the moment I’m working on how we can prevent child sexual exploitation and improve security arrangements for British tourists overseas.

I got the job…

After a career in marketing. I worked at Bloomberg but wanted to work overseas in conflict-afflicted countries, so started at private security firm Hart Security in 2003, initially in a marketing role before moving into risk management. It took me to places like Afghanistan and Iraq, where I spent years designing security solutions for reconstruction projects.

In 2016 the Home Office advertised for the new Joint Security and Resilience Centre and I joined as a secondee from Hart Security in 2017.

Claire’s desk at work 

My typical day…

I’m always working on lots of projects so I need to plan my time carefully. I’ll meet with government policy owners, such as a unit overseeing UK border control to discuss objectives in the area and how we can achieve them. Then I’ll write up concept and engagement plans, laying out my vision for new projects.

I have lunch at my desk, usually a salad but I always find time for 10 minutes of fresh air as it helps me gather my thoughts.

After lunch I collaborate with different government departments so I’ll have a meeting with the Department for Education or the National Crime Agency – issues such as child exploitation involve intersecting departments and policies.

My most memorable moment…

Was when I graduated two years ago with a master’s in political science, international security and global governance – it was the proudest day of my life. I studied while working full-time, managing our flat renovation and having a child – I’m not sure how I did it.

The Home Office in London is where Claire spends most days 

The worst part of my job…

Is all the suffering I’ve seen as a result of conflict. My field of work can be tough.

The best part of my job…

Is mentoring women at university who want to break into the field. I want to see more women working in politics and security.

After work…

My husband makes dinner: he’s the cook in the family. I used to do a spin class after work but now I exercise at the weekends when I have more time.

Later we’ll watch something like MasterChef or maybe Homeland – people always say I’m like Carrie Mathison but I don’t think I am! After taking off my make-up, I’m ready for bed at 10pm

My plan B: Writer and artist

As a kid I was arty – I loved painting and sketching. Then in my teens I wrote a weekly travel column for my local newspaper. In an ideal world, I’d combine the two and have a studio at home where I could write and paint with no distractions.

Stylist’s Visible Women campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of women who’ve made a difference, celebrating their success, and empowering future generations to follow their lead. See more from Visible Women here.  

Photography: Gemma Day. Other images: Getty Images 

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Moya Lothian-McLean

Moya Lothian-McLean is Stylist’s editorial assistant where she spends her time inventing ways to shoehorn Robbie Williams into pieces. A reoffending dancefloor menace, a weekend finds her taking up too much space at disco nights around the city and subsequently recovering with dark sunglasses and late brunch the next day. 

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