If you don’t ask, you don’t get

June is always a busy month for my family, as three of us have a birthday in the space of two weeks. Father’s day also takes place in June, and it’s also my husband and my wedding anniversary. There is one thing that makes this heavy month of present giving more manageable though – lists….

Masks in Beijing? Try Nairobi

Before I arrived in Beijing, many friends warned me about one major issue: air pollution. They – and articles such as this in the UK’s Guardian newspaper  – warned me so much that I had this idea that once I moved to Beijing I would need to wear a mask every day. Now, there are…

What’s win-win about animals?

As a relative newcomer to China, I do my best to read as much as I can of other people’s perspectives about China. One magazine I often enjoy is “World of Chinese”, a bi-monthly publication, helpfully written in English as my Chinese is just not that good yet! In one of the past issues I…

Is your relationship with China better than mine?

Just a few weeks ago, my sister got married. The wedding was beautiful, her husband is an absolutely wonderful man from Uganda, and my two other sisters and I were bridesmaids. But there was one problem. I found myself comparing her wedding to mine seven years ago. Either thinking “Oh, I wish we had done…

Change is in the Air for 2015

Throughout my career, I’ve worked in large organisations. And every single large organisation – from highly profitable businesses to multilateral institutions – goes through swings and cycles of “change processes”. The organisation I work in now, UNDP, has just gone through a “change process” to decentralise operations from New York to regional centres and country…

Making APEC Blue Go Global

This month, I had my first visitor to Beijing. My mother-in-law joined me for ten days. Luckily enough, we get on very well, so we had a great time. I prepared a packed itinerary covering her two weekends here, and she was very independent, so she was able to see the best the city has…

Training as if China isn’t a Country

Africa isn’t a country. It’s an obvious statement but a while back, even American Vice President Joe Bidden forgot it when he said: “There’s no reason the nation of Africa cannot and should not join the ranks of the world’s most prosperous nations”. Having worked in development for over ten years now, I think recognizing…

The same, but different

I’m entering into my fourth week here in Beijing, and one of the experiments I tried last weekend was to order a takeaway. I was tired from a very hectic week of meetings – that was my excuse anyway! But it turns out the process of getting a takeaway in Beijing is quite different from…

Defying stereotypes in China

A few days ago I arrived in Beijing to begin a new job as deputy country director for UNDP China. In this job, I’ll be heading a team that advises the Chinese government and other Chinese counterparts such as businesses how to cooperate effectively with other countries and further develop their international positions on issues…

Unexpected outcomes from Rio+20

A couple of days ago, I had coffee with a friend and ended up talking about my move from London to Glasgow, just over a year and a half ago. I told my friend that when I first moved, I started off trying to enjoy Glasgow in the same way I enjoyed London. I rented a small…

Genuinely Learning from Saudi Arabia

One of the things I love about my job is getting to meet people from all over the world. Just recently, I had the opportunity to meet a bunch of officials from Saudi Arabia. They were in charge of running the Saudi Fund for Development, and they were visiting my office for something we called…

My new development obsession

Chinese and African construction teams work together on a development project in Angola. Picutre: Dieter Telemans/Panos Anyone following my Twitter account will have noticed that I’ve recently developed a strange obsession with all things China. China even featured in my blog post last week, although my key message was about development partnerships. The reason I’ve…