What do you do?
I am in charge of the visa desk and am responsible for providing advice and support with visa requirements, both for staff members travelling abroad on mission and for experts coming to meetings in Strasbourg or elsewhere.
What is your background?
I have a BA Honours degree in French and Spanish from the University of Nottingham. When I first came to the Council, I worked for two years as the assistant to the Head of the Data Protection Unit and then for six years for the Committee of Experts on Terrorism and the Ad hoc Committee of Legal Advisors on Public International Law.
What do you love about your job?
I work as part of a small but very dedicated team which I love. The year I started working in Protocol, the Council of Europe celebrated its 60th anniversary, which not only gave us the opportunity to reflect on all that the Council of Europe has achieved, but also to see my colleagues in action welcoming VIPs. I felt very proud to have become part of their team.
I enjoy the technical side of the role as well, finding out about the visa regimes between different states, and how past relationships and events affect this. I also work on the Protocol internal website and have attended a number of the training courses to improve my skills.
The international aspect of the Council of Europe is great, and I love being able to use my languages. Working in Protocol gives me an overview of the activities of the Organisation and its various institutions as a whole. And what appealed when I first applied to the Council of Europe still applies – the Council of Europe works to improve people's rights and lives.
How do you find living in Strasbourg?
I love living in Strasbourg. The city is small enough (and flat enough) to be able to cycle everywhere. It's a very vibrant city and there is always something to do – cinemas, both French and international, concert and theatre, festivals, and cultural associations which organise intercultural events. The old centre of the city is beautiful and full of character, and the countryside around Strasbourg is also stunning beautiful. From a practical point of view, it's a great place to bring up children, with the various childcare facilities set up with working parents in mind. There are several bilingual pre-schools and a number of international schools for primary and secondary school age children.
Would you recommend it?
I would recommend working at the Council of Europe to anyone who was interested in living and working abroad, in working with colleagues from all over Europe, in contributing to the successful achievement of the Organisation's aims.