Salli Randi, the newly-appointed senior consultant at Blue Rubicon,
hates having her photo taken, more so when she is about to be quizzed
about her 'other life' as a New Labour spin doctor.
Anybody would think she was up for root canal treatment. Her top lip is
close to breaking out in a sizeable tremor - and to think she spent four
years as a repertory actor (she passed over university for drama
'I prefer to be in the background, ensuring the spotlight is on someone
else. I hate this,' she says gesturing towards the photographer 'and
this,' she says nodding at her interrogator's notepad.
'I have no ambition to be on the front line. I'm not used to it. I
prefer the backroom. This is alien to me. If that equates to humbleness,
then so be it,' she continues, her nerves all the better for sharing her
Randi has been in her new job just three days. Blue Rubicon clients
include Transco, Rio Tinto and Netscaliber, though it is not yet clear
which she will focus on. She was recently at the heart of the Prime
Minister's re-election campaign, and can be credited with helping New
Labour win another, historic term in office.
She spent the last four weeks travelling up and down the country
exercising a top media events management brief on a pro bono basis. She
was also at the heart of the New Labour campaign in 1997 and her PR
talents are revered by many, including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Mo
Mowlam, Blair's special assistant Anji Hunter and, of course, Blue
Rubicon MD Fraser Hardie.
Reason enough for the grilling, she acknowledges with a small
Mediterranean-like shrug. Randi is half-Italian. Her father owns an
Italian restaurant in Devon, and she lists pasta and supporting AC Milan
among her hobbies.
She is a New Labour stalwart (Tony Blair reportedly calls her Sal), who
rose through the ranks of old Labour as it went about its metamorphosis
to today's powerful government.
With the 2001 election looming, she was summoned back to again weave her
PR and communications magic around Downing Street, Millbank and the
She was director of corporate communications at Siemens Business
Services, a post she held for two-and-a-half years, when the call to
elections arms came last Christmas.
Siemens CEO Gary Pusey said: 'Salli developed effective, mixed
communications plans on complex issues, such as the National Savings
transfer of over 4,000 staff from the public to the private sector. She
brought a communications knowledge that was invaluable, and we were
sorry, though not surprised, to see her leave. Tony Blair obviously has
more draw than I.'
She had been 'in talks' with Rubicon, the fledgling corporate, financial
and brand consultancy after leaving Siemens, and takes up a holistic
brief, she says. Her six-year spell with the government-in-waiting
taught her how to be results orientated. 'I find change management and
culture change, researching, meaningful debate, and results delivering,
exciting. I love it,' she enthuses.
Prior to Siemens, Randi worked as a Burson-Marsteller account director
for 18 months, and was promoted to associate director.
Randi's preference for being in the background became apparent during
her four years spent as repertory actor: 'I realised I hated being in
the glow of the footlights, and I found all those resting periods soul
The disillusioned thespian signed up as a New Labour campaign activist,
and helped MP Keith Hill win the marginal seat of Streatham in the 1992
election: 'I found I could communicate well, write press releases and
She was spotted by the MEP Anita Pollack, and helped her win the
marginal West London Euro seat in 1994. By then Randi was a rising star
in the New Labour firmament, and appointed a party youth and student
She was given a brief to mobilise youth and student backing for the next
election and initiated various campaigns, including the successful
celebrity Q&A sessions. Randi was then picked for New Labour's four-man
'advanced team', a US-style assembly of crack communicators.
The team would tour the nation, identifying examples of the opposition
incompetence. They would then prime the party's big guns for an assault
on the governing Tories, culminating in the May 1997 election turkey
shoot. She re-joined the A-Team for the 2001 tour of duty.
Will she be prepared to be enlisted for the 2005 election? 'Umm. I'll be
too old by then,' she decides, jokingly. She's 34.
Ironically, Randi lives in true blue Henley-on-Thames with her IT
consultant husband, Jeremy. 'Long term, I would like to open an Italian
restaurant. Perhaps in Henley,' she ponders. No doubt the house wine
will be an exceptional red.
1997: Associate director, Burson-Marsteller
1998: Director of corporate communications, Siemens
2001: Media aide, Labour Party
2001: Senior consultant, Blue Rubicon