SOAS University of London

Frances Moffett-Kouadio

SOAS has a really good reputation and I learned as much from my peers as I did from my tutors.

Why did you choose SOAS as the place to study?

Because I wanted to study a MA in African Studies in London.  SOAS has a really good reputation and I learned as much from my peers as I did from my tutors.

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

I am currently the UK Trade Commissioner to Hong Kong.  From SOAS I gained friends; self-confidence; global awareness; knowledge of the continent, history, culture and the issues faced; internet/website skills.  All specifically relevant when I was posted to South Africa for 6 months.

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

Getting a distinction for the course, whilst having 2 young children and a part-time job at the time was a massive achievement for me.  I most enjoyed the African Music classes with Lucy Duran as so much history is carried through music.  They were also lots of fun!

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

The belief that I can make a difference to people’s lives by supporting the growth of companies overseas and the opportunity for my family to live in different countries and cultures. 

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

My husband has had to sacrifice his career for mine.  He has created new opportunities, but it was challenging at first as we didn’t anticipate that he would struggle to find work given his qualifications (BSc; MSc; MBA) and experience.  My biggest wok-related challenge was having to reverse less than favourable views of some UK companies in some markets.  These views were reversed by relationship building on both sides, very frank advice to some of the companies and offering something new and significant that resulted in revitalised and positive commercial relationships in the market.

What are some essential skills or attributes that are important to your role? Tenacity, resourcefulness and flexibility.

What would you advise any budding diplomats? Develop your emotional intelligence and people skills. 

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

Vibrant, challenging, creative