Univ Dates: 2003-2006
Degree: BA Modern History
Degree Level: Undergraduate
Occupation: Committee Specialist, UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy
Biography: Ashlee is a committee specialist for the UK House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy. Prior to her work in parliament, she served as the Deputy Editor of the RUSI Journal, the flagship periodical of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), working with prominent authors including General David Petraeus, Lord Ashdown, Sir Michael Howard and Sir Max Hastings. Previously, Ashlee worked at an international technology company, first as editor and then at the head of the global communications and PR team.
A Fulbright Scholar in national security policy-making, Ashlee is also a Millennium Fellow with the Atlantic Council, a Washington, DC-based think tank. It was in this capacity that she attended the 2016 NATO Future Leaders Summit, where she chaired a panel with former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and the former Prime Minister of Sweden, Carl Bildt. Ashlee completed an MA in War Studies at King’s College London (2006-07). Her dissertation addressed the use of intelligence in public diplomacy, with the Iraq 2003 conflict as a case study; her primary research notably included interviewing Lord Butler of Brockwell, author of the 2004 Butler Inquiry, and Sir Lawrence Freedman, later of the Chilcot Inquiry. At Univ she was a member of the Univ Players and Univ Netball team.
Any particular Influences on you at Univ?
One of my tutors Professor von Strandmann was a big influence on me. I was very fortunate to have one-on-one tuition with him in my second year, which is, I think, when you really start to grow into the historian you are going to be. I thoroughly enjoyed those conversations – we talked about my essay for the first hour, trying not to go off on tangents, and I might still be there two hours after that talking about other things; history, politics, current affairs… I just really enjoyed that interaction and conversation. That was so important to me then and I’m still in touch with him every now and then, letting him know what I’m up to.
Did you have the opportunity to travel whilst at Univ?
Yes, a College grant helped me go to Russia at the end of Hilary Term of second year. I had just finished reading a paper of Stalinism, so obviously where else are you going to go but Russia? There were actually four historians from Univ that went from the same year; that was my first time really travelling outside of Europe and the first time in a culture and with a language that was quite alien to me. It was a real eye-opener. I really got the travel bug from that trip.
Did you know what you wanted to do after Univ?
If you had told me whilst I was at Univ where I would end up being now I would have been very happy. I think it started to become clear to me during the first term of my second year with Professor von Strandmann; I was studying Napoleonic Europe right through to the Crimean War – every term historians write an essay that is social- or economic history-based and that term was the first time that I had written something diplomatic and military-based, the first time I had a real affinity for that particular area of history. It was that that really started to shape my choices of future papers, my dissertation… I then started to think about my Masters options and King’s was on my horizon from that term, perhaps just slightly later.
Tell us about what you are doing now.
I now work for the House of Commons. I work as what’s known as a Committee Specialist, a sort of researcher, project manager and drafter of some of the reports, working in support of the committees, producing their inquiries and reports. I work for the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and also the Joint Committee on the National Security Strategy, which is a bit of a mouthful. Essentially those two committees run enquiries into specific policy areas and I’m there to provide the research and project management support for those.
Before that I worked for five years at a defence think-tank in Whitehall called RUSI – the Royal United Services Institute – and I worked as an editor of their flagship research journal. Prior to that my first job out of University was for a smartphone software company called Symbian, it was a fantastic first job in terms of introduction to skills and the general workplace and travel; they really nurtured me and gave me an idea of what I was doing.