Hopscotch Hero - Alexandra McKenzie
7 minute read. Looking for ideas of how to manage your work and family? Hopscotch Heroes is the place to be as we highlight and celebrate the women that have figured it out!
This month, we are excited to introduce you to Singapore's own, Alexandra McKenzie. As the Deputy High Commissioner at the British High Commission (Who are hiring with us!), she plays a vital role as the second in command. She does all of this while successfully managing her family life with her three children. She embodies the modern way of balancing your work life and family life. Curious to know how she does it all? Read on and she will share all her tips and tricks:
Hopscotch: Tell us about what you do and what this looks like on a daily basis?
Alexandra: I work for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the UK government department that promotes the UK’s interests overseas. The job means moving around between headquarters in London, and any of our “posts” overseas. Every two to four years I take on a different role. Currently I am serving as Deputy High Commissioner in Singapore – the number two in our High Commission of over 100 staff, who cover everything from helping UK businesses export to Southeast Asia, to tackling the illegal wildlife trade, to co-operating with the government of Singapore in managing threats to our national security, for example terrorism or cyber attacks.
My job is to bring together the work of our teams and oversee the corporate functions, from HR and finance to the security of our estate and crisis management. I also lead our Political Team, analysing political developments in Singapore and the region and advising the UK government on how these impact on our interests and how we should respond. I’ll also visit schools / universities, engage with UK businesses, and speak at events where people expect the British government to be represented. This means a fair number of evening engagements, but I’ll try to limit these to a maximum of two a week: if they take away from time with my kids, they have to be important.
What I love about my job is that it’s so varied. Not only do I get to change jobs and countries every few years, but even within the job, every day is different. In any given week, I might be talking to the Singapore government about security in the South China Sea, advising UK companies on the business environment in Singapore, hosting a discussion on gender equality with Singaporean civil society, mentoring younger colleagues around the world, and working out how to refurbish our office space!
H:What is your family background/current situation and how has this influenced your life today?
A: I joined the FCO as a 22 year-old university graduate. At the time, I didn’t think much about what it would mean for my future family; I was just excited about adventures and travel. I picked up a husband in my first posting, in Beijing. We had a baby in posting number two (Paris) and another one in posting number three (Berlin). There was then a pause while we struggled a bit in the UK to make things work on one salary and with two young kids in London. But then we had a third baby in Singapore.
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