Director Marketing, Mike Coney, chats to our new Regional Director, Helen Silvester.
Mike: So Helen, tell me how you’re feeling about joining the Americas?
Helen: I am absolutely thrilled to be joining this really exciting region and can’t wait to land in Buenos Aires on Sunday! It’s taken some time – and massive thanks to Stephen for holding the fort and doing such a great job as Acting Regional Director in the interim!
Mike: What will your priorities be for the Americas?
Helen: Well Mike, my first priority will be to learn! The Americas is a huge region and I can see there’s a huge amount going on so I’m really looking forward to getting to know colleagues and to learning more about our wonderful work across the region.
Secondly, a top priority for us all across the world will be to align our work to Strategy 2025. The finer details of the strategy are still being finalized but we do know that our work will fall under three core pillars: English, Education youth and skills, and arts and culture with a set of core offers and outcomes under each pillar that our work must all align to.
Beyond that, I would say that there are four things that are very important to me – and indeed to our work across the British Council: people, impact, sustainability and good governance.
On people, I believe everyone wherever they are in our organisation should find fulfillment in their work and should be supported and challenged to be the best they can be.
On impact, I think it’s important to have the breadth of impact to show our relevance in a region as vast as the Americas whilst also being able to demonstrate the real difference we make to people’s lives, and being clear on the value we bring to the UK.
In terms of sustainability, I think everyone is aware of some of the funding challenges we face in the British Council at the moment, so being as effective and efficient as we can be with what we’ve got is really important as well as making sure that we are creating enough surplus to invest in our future.
And finally, by good governance I mean ensuring compliance with our policies that manage our risk, keep us safe and secure, and provide robust accountability for the decisions we take and the way we manage ourselves, our programmes and our funding. This is so important for our duty of care to each other and to protect our reputation.
Mike: OK Helen, we look forward to hearing more on these as you settle in. Is there anything else you would say at this point?
Helen: Only that I am really looking forward to getting stuck into our work in the Americas! Team Americas has a fantastic reputation for creativity, great programmes and innovation – and I’m looking forward to working with you all as we take our work to even greater heights over the next five years!