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UWC South East Asia Welcomes First College President: Carma Elliot CMG OBE joins UWCSEA in August 2019

Kate Woodford, Senior Manager, Marketing and Business Development, UWCSEA
5 August 2019

The role of College President is a reimagining of the Head of College role, based on the College’s current and future needs and the strength of our educational leadership across both campuses. As UWCSEA's first President, and as we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary since our opening by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1971, Carma will work to stretch the College's ambitions for our mission and our students into a sustainable future for the College in Singapore. This will encompass both furthering the College’s position as a leader in the world of international education, and contributing as a positive force in global conversations on peace and a sustainable future.

A career British diplomat for 23 years until 2010, Carma worked in a wide variety of roles and across continents, including bilateral politics, trade and investment, immigration and protocol. Her diplomatic career spanned the UK, Europe, China and Saudi Arabia, where she was the first female Director of Trade and Investment. Her final three postings were as Consul-General in Chongqing (China), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and finally Shanghai (China).

Carma has spent much of her adult life in China; 2019 marks the 35th anniversary of Carma first going to China, as a student at Fudan University in Shanghai. After leaving the Foreign Office, Carma became Executive Director at China’s single largest international NGO, the Half the Sky Foundation (2010–2013), focused on enriching the lives of China’s orphaned children. Her work at Half the Sky Foundation supported a unique partnership with the Chinese government, for the development of a training programme for local child welfare workers and towards building a sustainable future for the NGO.

In 2013, Carma then joined the British Council as Director China, and was concurrently appointed Minister for Culture and Education in the British Embassy Beijing, becoming a member of the Ambassador’s senior leadership team. Throughout her professional life, Carma has affected meaningful change in the government, international education and development sectors in several countries, most recently completing a complex business transformation at the British Council in China. Carma has been honoured twice by Her Majesty The Queen, for her service to the UK abroad; she was was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to UK relations with China (2003) and a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) for the success of the UK pavilion at Shanghai Expo (2010).

Originally from Scotland, Carma is proud to call herself a global citizen. She grew up living in multiple countries as her family moved around with her father’s job, and so identifies as a ‘third culture kid’ with formative life experiences that will be familiar to many in our community. Through her professional life, she has developed a deep knowledge of the cultural nuances required to successfully navigate and create intercultural understanding and an appreciation of the importance of respecting diverse perspectives when working towards peace between people.

On joining UWCSEA, Carma said, “I am delighted and humbled to be joining the UWCSEA community as the College’s first President. I have had the privilege to live and work outside the UK for most of my life: I am internationalist by conviction, and with a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and service, I look forward to joining a movement which inspires and is inspired by its students and alumni - to take action and to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally.”

Our community welcomes Carma and looks forward to working with her to bring UWCSEA to the forefront of international education, in Singapore and around the world, as well as providing thoughtful contributions to global conversations about how we all go about creating peace and a sustainable future for all.