Earn the Right to be Privileged

Bloggers Lead Her Ship writes how Grassroot Diplomat was originally founded in its early stages in 2008.

The latest graduates coming off the production line are entering a world unfamiliar to the previous generation. As news of the economic climate in the Western world spirals off into a negative trajectory, many graduates with perfectly enhanced skills – usually slaving away in unpaid internships – are now struggling to get on the property ladder, let alone buy their weekly groceries.

With jobs so rare and fast in decline, what options do bright young graduates have? Some have continued to stay on studying for a Masters or PhD. Some have little choice but to take lower paid jobs in service industries like retail. Many have left the country in search of new and emerging markets that highly regard native English speakers. Yet rarely do we see these graduates take a gamble and become captured by an entrepreneurial spirit and chisel their own path. One such graduate has recently started a rare business, unheard of to ordinary citizens, a diplomatic consultancy.

When thinking of diplomacy, one may conjure images of Ambassador Banquets with waiters carrying around a pyramid Ferrero Rocher. At the age of 26, Talyn Rahman-Figueroa showed the courage to actually make her own way in the world. Born and raised in London, Talyn studied Japanese and Management as her first degree and moved onto diplomacy for her Masters. Less than a year later, she is now the Chief Executive Officer of Grassroot Diplomat.

Frustrated with the poor job market Talyn started work on her one woman diplomatic agency as a not-for-profit back in 2008. “I had been job-hunting for a while and discovered that the job market was very poor especially for someone who had experience in foreign policy and government where there were essentially no jobs”. It was not until an acquaintance from the Foreign Office encouraged her to use her skills and expertise to complement the work of diplomats and embassies.

The company motto of Grassroot Diplomat is to “bridge the gap between governments and civil society”. Given the big names associated with this agency, Grassroot Diplomat plans to make an impact on the international stage. Similar to the motives of Prime Minster David Cameron’s “Big Society” Grassroot Diplomat wants to give a voice to those in society who don’t have the influence or resources to effectively get their message across to powerful groups or institutions through foreign embassies.

Over the years, Talyn has networked with influential political officials like former UN Secretary-General Kofi Anan, Mayor of London Boris Johnson, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Labour Leader Ed Miliband and former US governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to advocate the necessity in closing the gap between governments and civil society. As an intermediary, Talyn has supported Nobel Laureate Mohammed Yunus in clearing his name against the smear campaign led by the Bangladeshi government.

Before her diplomatic training, Talyn was on the executive board of two UN-affiliated NGOs, dealing with issues regarding women’s rights and climate change. Her work in relation to these topics has been published by American Diplomacy, Diplomatic Insight, the UK Defense Forum and many others.

Diplomats and politicians at the top of the hierarchy tend to be upper middle class men in their fifties with few women or ethnic minorities in the field. Talyn argues that renewal and modernisation is required in the government field. “I would like to be a role model not just for young Asian women, but for young people of all backgrounds to prove that you don’t have to privileged to get things done. Sometimes it takes young fresh thinking to get things moving.”

2012 looks to be a tough year for everyone, as economic predictions continues to look forbearing but using Talyn as an example, young people are advised to network and “stay with it for the long haul”.