Siobhan Flax is one of our MSc Diplomacy, Statecraft and Foreign Policy students and the recipient of a scholarship from the Women in Diplomatic Service Organisation, London.
Where are you from?
The British Virgin Islands (BVI).
Tell us about your academic background
In 2007 I earned my Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University in Atlanta, USA. I have also completed certificate courses in diplomatic protocol and cultural diplomacy.
Tell us about your career history, and how you managed to secure a role at the BVI London office
My career journey into my current role at the BVI London Office has not been a straight and narrow one but one of many unexpected turns, curves and opportunities. After completing my degree in Atlanta, I returned to the British Virgin Islands and set off on an exciting career in the luxury hotel business starting in a management traineeship and working my way up to a junior managerial position.
A personal calling for a career change and a strong desire to serve my country led me to the join the Public Service starting the Department of Human Resources at the Government of the Virgin Islands as Assistant Human Resources Manager. The opening for a Personal Assistant to the Director position became available at the BVI London Office, I applied and was successful.
The Mission is quite small and after some time in my post, I was tasked with taking on more responsibilities, specifically in social and cultural projects. My title was officially changed to capture this in 2014.
How are you finding the balance of studying a masters alongside your employment commitments?
It is very much a balancing act, sometimes feeling more like a juggling act, with the third dimension of family added to the equation. Though challenging at times, I find it very rewarding and the challenge has definitely helped me to strengthen my character and tenacity. I have also learned to become very organised, which I believe is part of the learning process. With lectures every weekend for the past few months, I am beyond excited to have a proper sleep-in for the first in a very long time this Saturday. Then on to writing essays!
What motivates you?
My daughter Charity, my family, the advancement of my country and a genuine personal will to succeed and achieve goals that literally scare me.
What do you most enjoy about MSc Diplomacy, Statecraft and Foreign-Policy?
Coming from a business background initially and now having hands on experience in a diplomatic mission, I really enjoy learning the core theories and background knowledge in the field which I places my work into more perspective.
The course provides hands-on, practical knowledge which I find very valuable and essential to operating in a diplomatic environment and I also value the fact that many of the instructors have years of experience and extensive networks in diplomacy. Finally, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course is interacting with and learning from the other students who come from varied backgrounds and nationalities.
What do you hope to have achieved in 5 years’ time?
I would like to attain a senior level position within my Government, either at home in the Virgin Islands or abroad.
What advice would you give to prospective students looking to study Diplomacy?
Have an open mind, prepare to grow and be challenged and see things from perspectives outside of your own. It is an exciting time to study diplomacy; there is no shortage of major international events and developments taking place simultaneously as you learn – keep abreast of these. The knowledge to be gained is current, relevant and clearly applicable in today’s world positioning you to make a real impact.