Who’s Next: Gillian M.S. Bristol

by Editorial

Part of a new generation of female Caribbean ambassadors who have risen to their posts in recent years, Ambassador Gillian M.S. Bristol of Grenada is a rising star of the new diplomacy.

Gillian M.S. Bristol. Photo by Donovan Marks.

Washington Life: Grenada’s independence was marked in 1974 and its first international airport was opened in 1984. There must be unique challenges and excitement in representing such a young country.

Gillian M.S. Bristol: Grenada is a nation of proud, ambitious and accomplished people. We are excited about the potential of our tri-island nation and want to share our wealth of human resources and investment opportunities with the world. We may have competition in the global market, but our unspoiled beauty and commendable human rights and public integrity records combine to make Grenada a unique and promising market.

WL: What is one thing Grenadian and Americans have in common?

GB: With our shared history, Grenada and the United States have more in common than we would think, but it might surprise some Americans to know that one of their national sports, basketball, is also one of the most popular sports in Grenada. Atlanta Hawks center Etan Thomas is a Grenadian national! We just have to get Americans to play cricket and Grenadians to play baseball.

WL: It may be surprising to some that you are on twitter. How has being an ambassador changed in the digital age?

GB: Multitasking has been redefined with digital interface, making communication instantaneous, which in turn means that I can meet deadlines and increase efficiency. But this also raises expectations, significantly increasing the demand on my time. After a few months on the job, I had to learn to use the silent button on my Blackberry, although I still don’t dare turn it off completely even while I am asleep.

WL: What is the most challenging part of your job?

GB: Convincing others that while Grenada is a developing country it is seeking partnership with other nations and investors, not a handout. It is equally challenging educating others about a micro economy (U.S. $750 million) where even a small investment can have a significant impact.

WL: You’re undoubtedly very busy.

GB: With several portfolios, a very small embassy staff (two diplomats including myself) and being a single parent, striking a balance between work and my personal life is extremely challenging. Nonetheless I try to find time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures. I am an avid reader and fan of the dramatic arts, sports and travel. I also love to entertain at home.

WL: What’s your personal philosophy?

GB: There are no problems in life, only challenges. With a positive outlook, faith and respect for others we can erase obstacles and achieve even our most improbable dreams.

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