What is your profession and current position?
Currently engaged by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) as a consultant providing expertise to governments and agencies, in various parts of the world, in enhancing capacity and capability in their efforts to combat two of the largest (& least reported) crimes in the world - Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.
After Monkton, and University, I joined the Royal Hong Kong Police (RHKP) as an Inspector and spent 9 very enjoyable years in various roles, latterly focused on commercial crime investigations. I moved to the private sector, in a variety of roles in multi-national companies, and smaller boutique organisations, mainly connected to the financial industry, operating all over Asia/ Pacific. My last role was as the head of a financial intelligence unit within a major global bank, which proved both challenging and professionally very interesting. During this time, I became aware of the huge problem of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants and started volunteering in my spare time with a local charity. After a year, the charity invited me to join them in a full-time capacity, leveraging both my law enforcement experience and financial sector knowledge. Since then, I have had the pleasure to work at some of the highest global levels / forums - United Nations, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Egmont Group, INTERPOL - all focused on combatting Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants.
I am very grateful that my career has given me various diverse experiences and networks, that are now of great assistance in my role with UNODC.
How did Monkton get you ready for the world of work?
I think my time and experiences at Monkton provided me with a strong foundation for life, as well as work, undoubtedly through a strong academic foundation and work ethic, but also through achieving success through teamwork gained through sport (rugby, hockey, cricket), self-reliance and self-confidence through mastering many & varied challenges (CCF, prefect, Head of House - leadership & responsibility), as well as the values of integrity, honesty, fairness, and courage to speak up when something is wrong - such values are, in my opinion, increasingly rare in some business arenas - but very much needed. Monkton remains as a beacon for such values and I am always delighted to meet Old Monktonians, wherever in the world, as we all share the same heritage.
I am always amazed, when reading the testimonies / updates of Old Monktonians (& Old Clarendonians as well), that despite being a fairly small school, OMs (& OCs) do some amazing things in their careers, often travelling paths less followed, and often in service to the greater community…
What is your biggest professional achievement?
There are several, but two come to mind…
In 1993, whilst serving in the RHKP on the border of Hong Kong with PR China, my unit and the surrounding farmland and villages in the New Territories were subject to catastrophic flooding from Typhoon Dot. On leading efforts to extract some of my patrols, who were stranded, we also became aware of villagers in danger and trapped by fast rising floodwaters. Over the next few hours, in darkness, torrential rain & cyclonic winds, and at great personal risk, the RHKP officers extracted 36 villagers (as well as a few household pets) to safety. I was extraordinarily proud of all the officers involved - who were all awarded the Commissioner’s Commendation for Valiant Service; I was honoured to receive the Governor’s Commendation for Bravery for my part.
More recently, it has been highly encouraging to see the global financial machinery turn its attention to identifying and mitigating the proceeds and profits from Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants; as part of that I was honoured to be one of the very few representatives from charities invited to participate in the drafting of the FATF guidelines “Financial flows from Human Trafficking” (July 2018) - https://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/methodsandtrends/documents/human-trafficking.html - invaluable guidance to every jurisdiction, and every financial institution, as to how they can do more to stop such illicit financial flows going through their institution. This publication drew a very definite “line in the sand” for the global financial industry.
What has been your most challenging professional moment?
There have been many…
In law enforcement, there were many operational circumstances (i.e. facing triad gangs, heavily armed robbers, rescuing victims from flooding), facing critical decisions, often involving the safety of others, that a quick (& hopefully, correct) response was required; those were often very challenging times of high adrenalin, teamwork, training, combined with leadership and determination.
In business sector, often the challenges were more subtle - dealing with different personalities & their motivations, finding ways to develop and convey a position or solution, making representations and influencing decision makers. A very different set of skills!
In the charitable sector, it was different again…
One specific professional challenge that springs to mind is the first time, as an anti-slavery charity, we took our research on a large international fishing network that had been institutionally using forced labour (slavery) on its fleets, to a big global bank, to highlight that the bank was at risk from handling the funds from this network. On the first meeting - within 10 minutes - the bank officers showed us the door. We were highly disappointed as we believed we had a powerful and well researched case and convincing a bank to listen was key to our path forward. Within a week we were called back - they had verified our research and come to the same conclusions; from then on, a strong relationship developed between us and the bank, and from that, with many of the world’s leading banks. It all depended on the outcome of that first meeting…
What inspires and motivates you at work?
A desire to see that every one of the estimated 40.2 million men, women, boys and girls trapped in modern slavery - often living amongst us but trapped in slavery - literally “hidden in plain sight”. - are freed. The UK is not immune - there are high number of modern-day slaves in the UK, even in & around Bath & Bristol.
My current work is to help as many professionals - government, private sector, and civil society - see that they can make a powerful difference in the fight against these 2 crimes - Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. Seeing many of the participants realise the size and scale of the problem, and that they are part of the solution, is a powerful motivation to keep going.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with pupils or OMs about getting into your profession?
Having a passion “to make a difference” is a great place to start!
I was shown a diagram a few years ago which had 4 circles with the following statements in each circle - finding a passion or mission or profession or vocation that is
- something that you love
- something that you are good at
- something that the world needs
- something that you can get paid for
It can be a journey in your career to find all of these in a role - however, once you do, then you will be highly engaged in what you are doing, have a powerful purpose & motivation to do it, thoroughly enjoy it (despite the challenges) - as well as making a difference! This ultimately comes back to the values that were embedded a long time ago… at Monkton.