Shannon Kelley Felton, '10
British Consulate General in Boston; Deputy Head of Politics, Press, and Public Affairs
Q: What are you currently working on? Would you describe your daily job functions?
At a job like this, there are no daily job functions. To put it into perspective, my first day was the day that Lady Thatcher died. I spent the next two days fielding calls from both media and people wondering how to appropriately express their condolences. A week later—my second Monday—was Patriot’s Day. I had been awake since 3:00 am to drive to Lexington, Massachusetts, where the Consul-General traditionally attends the early morning Revolutionary War reenactment. Later that day—like the rest of Boston—we unfortunately went into crisis mode with the bombing of the Boston Marathon. Four days later, I again woke up at 3:00 am to monitor the manhunt for suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev that locked down the Boston area, and informed my Consul-General of any developments. Immediately after that weekend, we got word that Prime Minister David Cameron would be visiting Boston. We spent the next three weeks coordinating that visit from the ground up. Right after Cameron’s visit, London sent us a huge red double-decker bus for one day! I helped coordinate its route (it couldn’t go under bridges or stoplights), worked with the media to get some coverage of it, invited guests to ride the bus, and created a full social media campaign. That was all in my first month! I have ongoing projects, such as the Marshall Scholarship for American students, but in this role I have to be able to drop everything and switch gears at any second.
Q: Could you describe one person, experience, or series of events at Emerson that shifted the course of your career and that illustrates one of Emerson’s core attributes of creativity, collaboration, risk taking, and excellence?
I would say two people who made a huge difference were Associate Professor Gregory Payne and Assistant Professor Michael Brown. Dr. Payne taught me so many things that have been essential in my career. He provided me opportunities outside of the classroom (National Communication Association; and the Communication, Politics and Law Association, which hosted students from Indonesia and Spain) to hone my skills and interact with people already working in the field. Brown’s Civil Rights class was the most difficult academic class I ever signed up for, but it was so rewarding. It required so much studying and it was tough. But in the end, I signed up for a second class with him. I’m more proud of those two grades than any other on my transcript.
Q: Are you professionally connected to other Emersonians?
Oh, yeah! Not only in Boston but with many in Washington, D.C., Denver, New York City, and Los Angeles. It is essential in this job to know who’s who, and many of those people are Emersonians! We could have a coffee table book of impressive alumni. The community is so connected and everyone is so kind that I know I can approach an alumnus from the Class of ’72 the same way I can approach someone from the Class of ’12. Everyone bleeds purple.
Q: Is there an example of how a classmate aided you with your career?
All of my peers at Emerson were amazing. I enjoyed collaborating with them on class projects, debating different political views, and just being around smart, ambitious people. I learned so much from them. An alumnus several years my senior hired me while I was in college for a great job being a personal assistant to a well-known CEO in Boston. This helped connect me more than anything else.
Q: What is the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give current Emerson students?
Get involved in Boston. This could be through student organizations, internships, and jobs. The city has so much to offer. Getting internships and a job, and just being in the city meeting people and attending events was the number one thing that set me up for success. Boston is a small town, and Emerson is perfectly situated for students to make a big splash! Don’t pass up that unique opportunity.