SOAS University of London

Jeremy Hill

SOAS helped me to build the foundation for my future life. I divide my time between writing, and coaching and training Japanese companies in global communication skills.

Why did you choose SOAS as the place to study?

SOAS was the Foreign Office's preferred language centre for staff to take their foundation year in Japanese language studies.

What do you do now and what practical skills did you gain from SOAS to prepare you for this?

I am now semi-retired in Japan. SOAS helped me to build the foundation for my future life.  I divide my time between writing, and coaching and training Japanese companies in global communication skills.

What would be a seminal moment, event, achievement, academic or person during your time at the School?

I met Peter Martin who would become Director of The British Council in Japan. He was also a writer and eventually retired to write full-time as James Melville -mainly detective fiction novels set in Japan and encouraged me to write.

What attracted you to the diplomatic service and in what ways has it lived to your expectations? 

I wanted to write so thought by having a career that took me overseas I could build up experience to write about which I am now doing.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a diplomat and how did you resolve them?

Having to be completely non-judgemental and often making  having to make decisions that went against one's natural inclinations. To resolve them meant developing an open mind.

What would you advise any budding diplomats? What are some essential skills or attributes that are important to your role?

As above. Come in to the job without any pre-conceived ideas and put aside any stereo-types that you may have about diplomatic life. And don't believe what you read in the press!

What three words symbolise the School's next 100 years?

'Boys, be ambitious' These are words attributed to William Clark a 9th century professor and foreign advisor to Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University in Japan. These were apparently his parting words to his students, the full quotation being:
[Full Text:“Boys, be ambitious! Be ambitious not for money or for selfish aggrandizement, not for that evanescent thing which men call fame. Be ambitious for the attainment of all that a man ought to be.”]