Matt Baugh

Ambassador to Somalia

Part of UK in Somalia

6th March 2013 Nairobi, Kenya

From the Olympic village to Somalia – FCO women’s stories

In the lead up to International Women’s Day on Friday, we are featuring the stories of women who work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as guest posts across the FCO bloggers’ network.

Jane Stevens and Tracey McLelland are a successful job sharing duo who are part of the communications team working on the upcoming London Conference on Somalia.

Jane Stevens and Tracey McLelland

How do you follow up a stint leading the Foreign Office’s overseas communications efforts around London 2012 Olympic Games, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to highlight the best of Britain, working with our Embassies around the world?

By joining the FCO’s brand new Projects Task Force to work on Somalia.

We have worked as a job share partnership for the past two-and-a-half years, each working three days a week. The modern Foreign Office is really waking up to the possibilities of flexible working, and our previous job on the London 2012 campaign was a case in point.

Our Head of Team was a job share position, with other team members working from bases in our Embassies in Beijing, Cairo, Moscow, Pretoria and Mexico. But it worked, and worked well –so much so that the Guardian shortlisted our communications campaign for their 2012 Public Services Awards.

There is plenty of exciting work still going on to make the most of the London 2012 legacy – but for us, apart from the odd touch of nostalgia, 2012 is so last year!

And 2013 has brought the opportunity to join the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s newest department and be part of a new way of working.

The Projects Task Force brings together officers from various grades, currently over 70% of us are women. Most of us have varied working patterns – part time, unusual hours and some colleagues work remotely from other countries, as well as our jobshare.

It brings a flexible new resource to the FCO, allowing teams working on high priority policy areas or projects to bid for extra staff to help during particularly busy or critical times.

Which is how we now find ourselves leading the communications efforts around the Somalia Conference, to be co-hosted by the Governments of the UK and Somalia in London on 7 May. We have brought our communications skills with us, but learning about Africa and Somalia is a whole new world. We’re loving it so far.

We have built up a network with colleagues across Government with an interest in the conference; developed our communications strategy, researched audiences in Somalia, including learning about their preference for radio over press and the internet.

We have launched a conference website and even filmed the Somali President on his recent visit to the UK. All this happens while handing the issues back and forward between us every Monday and Thursday on our “handover” days.

Somalia, digital engagement and video conferences with colleagues in Nairobi one day, then after some time updating and getting things in order, it’s over to the other half of the partnership for a couple of days. The other goes back to the school run, housework and – this week – devising costumes for World Book Day celebrations!

Work-life balance can make for an eclectic mix.

1 comment on “From the Olympic village to Somalia – FCO women’s stories

  1. Hi there my name is M O Gabaire a British Somali and was wondering how i would volunteer in the up coming conference in may 2013.Just read the above article and i thought it would be nice to get involved.So by any chance, it would be a previlage to participate if not would you direct me on who is organizing this conference

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About Matt Baugh

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3 small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May…

Matt is married to Caroline, a GP from South London
specialising in pre-hospital care and tropical medicine. They have 3
small children. Matt has been working on Somalia since May 2010, when he was appointed the UK’s Senior Representative and Head of the UK’s
Somalia Office. On 2 February 2012 he was accredited as the first
British Ambassador to Somalia for 21 years. Since taking up his Somalia
appointment, he has been able to travel to Mogadishu, Hargeisa and
Garowe, and has been deeply touched by the warmth of the welcome he has received, but also the scale of the challenges that Somali people face
every day.
Matt is a career civil servant and is currently on secondment to the
Foreign Office from the UK Department for International Development. Now 37, he has spent much of his career to date dealing with conflict,
security and humanitarian issues. Since 1999 he has worked in Iraq,
Sudan, Afghanistan and the Balkans, as well as a number of major relief
operations and protracted emergencies. He also helped to set up and lead
the UK’s Post Conflict Reconstruction Unit, now the UK Stabilisation
Unit. Matt is a graduate of the UK Joint Services Command and Staff
College’s Higher Command and Staff Course (2010) and was previously
Principal Private Secretary to the Secretary of State for International
Development (2008-9).
Away from work, Matt is an avid England rugby fan (although he
refuses to admit his own playing days are long over). He is also a keen
mountaineer and skier and, together with Caroline, was part of a team
that raced to the Magnetic North Pole in 2005. These days he is more
likely to be found teaching his children how to swim and build

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