Curiosity and willingness to change
Wherever Hanne Fugl Eskjær has been posted in the world, she has met new countries and cultures with a curiosity that has made new opportunities open up.
Hanne Fugl Eskjær is both Arctic ambassador and office manager for the Arctic and North America in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Diplomatic titles and long stays in Bangladesh, Syria, the Czech Republic, France and the United States hide the exciting stories and hard work behind the results.
“Every new place is like a new book, and this is regardless of whether I’m traveling to a new country with my family or coming back to Denmark. Curiosity is the constant theme in my career. When new and often unexpected doors open, I always see opportunities to make a solid Danish impression.”
And there has been plenty of excitement. Hanne experienced 9/11 in New York, has seen Syria transform from peaceful to war-torn, and lived in Bangladesh when terror hit the country. Hanne emphasises that the work requires tremendous flexibility in both the posted employee and their whole family. She remembers the positive experiences in particular.
Engagement creates change
“Most people associate Bangladesh with poverty and overpopulation, but the country also has a strong and entrepreneurial spirit, and I spent three wonderful years with my family there.”
Among other things, Hanne was the initiator of a group of female ambassadors who, together with the speaker of parliament, business women, artists and other powerful forces, created an agenda to fight violence and abuse against women in a country where women’s conditions are generally poor. Together, they used the theatre, the media and specific art projects to create awareness and change.
“My experience is that creative environments can often contribute to setting an important agenda with great impact. Small initiatives can grow into something big and thus be a good platform to protect Danish interests. It’s important to get out there and get involved. Change isn’t only created when sitting at a desk.”
Today, the Arctic region gets a good deal of attention from Hanne, ranging from telecommunications in small Greenland villages to climate change and global geopolitics. Here small initiatives can also grow bigger in close cooperation with colleagues in Nuuk and Torshavn.
Keep your options open and never stop
Hanne Fugl Eskjær commits herself to more things than her time really allows. She is a member of Djøf’s Board of Public Managers, sits on a customer panel for Aalborg University and is a member of the Forum for Arctic Research. She also mentors a number of female managers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“I benefited enormously myself from having a mentor at an early stage in my career, so I’m very happy to act as a sparring partner for issues involving both the way forward and everyday management challenges.”
In general, Hanne is delighted to give advice. This includes about the choice of qualifications, where she calls for an open perspective and not simply addressing a single goal. For her, the most important thing is to retain an appetite for learning new things and making a difference.
”Uddannelsesvalg er naturligvis vigtigt, men kan du ikke få drømmeuddannelsen, skal du nok alligevel blive ført derhen, hvor du passer. Bare vælg bredt, omgiv dig med samarbejdspartnere, der giver dig energi og stop aldrig med at lære nyt”.