Country of origin: Malta
Policy Co-ordinator, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maltese Government
Lancaster University Management School graduate Ryan Callus landed a top job in the Maltese Government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs after he graduated in 2008.
Ryan, who completed the Project Management MSc degree, is Policy Co-Ordinator in the Private Secretariat of the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Tonio Borg. Ryan accompanies and supports Dr Borg in his various meetings on Maltese foreign policy, including the monthly General Affairs and External Relations Council of the European Union which gathers all the Foreign Affairs Ministers of the 27 member states.
“Foreign policy is ultimately decided by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs after he would have considered the opinions of the various consultants and experts in his team,” Ryan explained. “In my role negotiation and behavioural skills are very important – as a diplomat, behaviour must be of the highest order to help find solutions that are to the benefit of all parties – and I’ve been able to put into practice the skills I learned on my Lancaster degree.”
Ryan added that it was of “great satisfaction to see ideas bear fruition”, such as the latest EU-Arab League Liaison office about to open in Malta, tasked with coordinating projects and initiatives jointly with the European Commission and the Arab League.
Specialist project manager
He was occupying the position of Environmental Protection Officer within the EU and Multilateral Affairs Unit at the Malta Environment and Planning Authority prior to starting his Lancaster course.
“The Maltese Government has made environment one of the six main pillars of its Vision 2015 policy drive, and needed specialist project managers in this area,” he explained. “Therefore I was sponsored through the Lancaster degree by the Maltese Government, and also received a Chevening Scholarship from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office as my work was seen as having a direct input into UK-Maltese political relations – particularly towards achieving both countries’ objectives on the environmental global challenge.”
Soft skills and soft issues
Having gained a first degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Malta, Ryan was looking for a postgraduate programme that would have given him an insight into much needed “soft skills and soft issues”.“I wanted to study project management and Lancaster is renowned for the quality of its postgraduate management courses and its high ranking,” he said.
“The beauty of the LUMS degree is it’s not restricted to any sector or industry – it covers general issues which can be applied anywhere. The skills I learned helped me implement a number of programmes at the environmental authority in the three months after completing my degree. Now the human aspect of the course is bearing fruit in my new role: how people react in certain situations, the views of different cultures, and the importance of negotiation.”
Ryan will remain in post at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs until at least 2013 – but next year is also contesting the local political elections in the Maltese village of Siggiewi. His public profile extends to presenting political discussions and analysing daily newspapers on Radio 101 in Malta, while contributing regular articles to The Times of Malta and In-Nazzjon, another Maltese newspaper.
And his view of the financial crisis? “As an island Malta is the smallest member state of the EU, which normally implies that we experience problems later in time. We are feeling the repercussions, primarily among companies which depend on orders from elsewhere in the EU. However, the Maltese government is negotiating with the companies affected, and with direct but specifically-targeted financial assistance, we are recovering slowly from the crisis. One blessing is we joined the Euro zone in good time and the stronger currency is definitely helping us through this.”