The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 18

18
NOVEMBER 2014
|
THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Increasingly, our own economy depends on expanding the
volume of our exports, which, in turn, will create jobs here at
home. Diplomats have a very important role to play in the pro-
motion of those economic interests overseas. And so, for the new
generation of officers, whatever your cone or specialization is,
recognizing the significance of those economic and commercial
issues is going to be increasingly important. It will also be an
increasing source of professional satisfaction.
RJS:
Speaking as an economic officer, I completely agree.
Another group that we talk to a lot, a group that looks to us, is
college students who are interested in the Foreign Service. Do you
have any specific suggestions for how they should be preparing,
those who want careers in this business?
WJB:
I may not be objective about this, because I’ve been
extraordinarily lucky during the course of my career, but I don’t
think there is any magic formula for professional satisfaction or
success in the Foreign Service. I think it helps to come into the
State Department with a pretty realistic sense of the pace of the
career, of the value of taking some chances along the way, and
ensuring that you have a broad foundation as you progress in a
career, whether that’s in terms of language ability or any other
kind of experience.
I think it’s important, as I said before, not to take things for
granted as you go along. A career can go by very quickly. You
want to appreciate the opportunity that you have to make a dif-
ference, which is what most of us enter public service in order
to try and do. You want to appreciate the fact that it’s the people
with whom you work that are going to matter the most. Taking
care of your people as you rise in seniority is extremely impor-
tant.
There are lots of people in our profession who are better at
managing up and managing over than they are at managing
down—leading and taking care of people. And I think that’s
a quality that we need to attach great importance to, because
we’re a relatively small institution, the State Department in
general and the Foreign Service in particular. And therefore, our
great strength is our people, and we want to make sure that we’re
taking the best possible care of them.
RJS:
Excellent. Can we talk about Russia a bit?
WJB:
Sure.
RJS:
Looking at our younger colleagues and those who are
coming through the system, what advice would you give to some-
one who’s being posted to Embassy Moscow?
WJB:
You want to invest in the Russian language, which is
obviously an entry point to understanding that society. Rus-
Deputy Secretary Burns addresses the people of Ukraine in Kyiv on Feb. 25.
U.S. Department of State
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