The British Embassy in Stockholm is – by some coincidence – the workplace of at least three graduates from the University of York: Daniel Cartridge (Langwith, Chemistry, 2009), Michael Contaldo (Vanbrugh, History, 1997) and Daniel Taylor (Wentworth, Politics, 2012).
The Embassy co-ordinates the activities of the UK government in Sweden, and works with the Swedish government and other institutions on international political and economic issues.
Over recent years it has been cooperating closely with Sweden to secure growth and reform in the European Union and to take forward shared foreign policy interests with the UK around the world.
The capital is also the home of the Stockholm Environment Institute, an international research organisation committed to global sustainable development. This forms yet another link to York as the University houses one of the SEI centres within its own Environment Department.
“I have been based at the Embassy for just over two years, having been Whitehall based for the previous four. I joined the civil service straight after York, initially at the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills working on areas such as smart regulation, EU competitiveness and trade policy.
“I moved to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in late 2013 with my posting to Stockholm, where I now head up the innovation team, working to strengthen the relationship between the UK and Sweden.
“I am often asked how a degree in chemistry translates to the role of a diplomat. The ability to work in a team, time management, planning, problem solving, thinking on your feet and writing clearly & concisely are, as it turns out, not just key skills for use in the laboratory, but also vital transferable skills in the diplomatic service – and in many areas for that matter!
“Chemistry is a fantastic course to develop these skills, and I am lucky enough to also cover the research portfolio in my role, so still retain a nice link to my degree.”
“I have been with the Foreign Office only since the summer, where I have been working as political attaché leading on issues relating to energy and the environment. This has been a particularly interesting time as momentum has been building around delivery of an agreement at the UN Climate Change conference held in Paris in November.
“My parent department, however, remains HM Treasury which I joined in 1999 soon after completing my studies. It has been a privilege seeing the inside workings of government from such a great vantage point. I have been involved in securing the London Olympic bid, contributing to poverty reduction in the developing world, and delivering devolution to cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.
“It’s been nice to return to York from time to time to talk to History under-graduates about possible career options. I found that my history degree has served me well within the Civil Service when it comes to being able to analyse the facts objectively and succinctly, in thinking about how important information is presented, and in observing how institutions must evolve in order to survive.”
“I began working at the Embassy’s commercial department in early 2015. My role involves working with UK companies that already have a presence in Sweden and those that are looking to export their products or services. Before arriving in Stockholm, I worked with the trade policy team at the UK’s representation to the UN and WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Both of these roles have been incredibly rewarding and diverse: from delivering statements on behalf of the UK at the UN and engaging in multilateral diplomacy, to promoting innovative UK products and services here in Sweden. I have incredibly fond memories when I reflect upon my year in York and made friends with people from all corners of the world. Engaging with people from different backgrounds is valuable for working within any organisation because it reduces the risk of cultural conformity.
“I think that it is important to study a subject that you are passionate about and that you enjoy (in my case Politics and Development studies) – you will develop all of the transferable skills along the way. My Postgraduate studies in York helped me to improve my analytical, communicative, organisational, and dancing skills. These have all proved to be useful since I graduated.”