By Katya Ilieva-Stone
Managing dual careers in the Foreign Service—whether as a tandem couple or as a couple where only one party is a U.S. direct-hire employee—can be challenging. In China, with the lack of a bilateral work agreement and restricted internet, the challenges are even greater. To address concerns and share best practices on managing dual careers in the Foreign Service, the Women’s Leadership Group at Embassy Beijing along with members of Human Resources and the Community Liaison Office organized a forum called Managing Dual Careers. The event was held in Beijing, Jan. 24.
Opening remarks for the forum were provided by Mission China leadership, Ambassador Terry Branstad and Minister Counselor for Management Katherine A. Munchmeyer, who recognized the importance of this type of discussion and information sharing. The two-hour event included presentations on family members and tandem employment, foreign-born spouses and employment, and professional networking. The event also featured a panel discussion that included embassy employees, employee family members and members of household, all of whom represented a variety of backgrounds that allowed them to share their diverse experiences, successes and lessons learned.
The January Managing Dual Careers workshop is the second of its kind; the inaugural event was held at the U.S. Consulate General in Frankfurt in 2015. Both forums were well attended and provided an important dialogue for a sometimes challenging situation. Embassy Beijing’s Women’s Leadership Group hopes to make this forum an annual event and encourages other posts to open the conversation on managing dual careers in the Foreign Service.
Katya Ilieva-Stone is a housing manager at Embassy Beijing.