Nicolas works at the Institute as Senior Advisor. He helps our clients and partners to design and implement long-term programs and projects with a positive impact on politics and society.
How would you describe your professional journey so far? What is your background, and what sparked your interest in currently working to support political innovation?
I am a passionate innovator with over nine years professional experience in managing projects in the public sector and political sphere. Before joining the Institute, I co-led an Innovation Consultancy and worked for a liberal think-and-do tank. I hold a Master’s of Public Policy from the University of Oxford and Master’s of Business Administration from the University of Innsbruck.
What is your first memory of politics?
The 1999 Austrian legislative election in which the right-wing, populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) became second after gaining 27% of the votes. This event not only sparked my interest into politics but also strongly affected my political engagement for the years to come.
Name a political book that is a must-read.
“Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?” by Michael J. Sandel. This book serves as a great start into political philosophy.
What is fascinating to you about political systems?
I am fascinated by the human side of politics and how, beyond the confrontational surface, political professionals on all levels work together to improve their country for the better.
Where do you see innovation happening in your work the most?
Actually, designing innovative projects and programmes and bringing them to life in the political sphere is a central aspect of my day-to-day job.
What’s something—big or small—that you’re really good at?
Some people say that I am a really good cook.
What is something or someone that deeply impacted the way you think about leadership and experience your work?
I am really thankful for the time I served as General Secretary of a youth-led political organisation. Building structures for young people with a desire to make an impact on politics has significantly contributed to shaping the person I am today.
I am fascinated by the human side of politics and how, beyond the confrontational surface, political professionals on all levels work together to improve their country for the better.NICOLAS STÜHLINGER
What’s a piece of transferable knowledge that you have in your skill box that you would like to share with us?
In challenging situations and environments I can rely on my empathy, communication skills and political experience to find and develop solutions to complex tasks.
What gives you hope?
A growing interest of young people in public policy and opportunities to engage in political movements and youth organisations to actively shape their future.