New Staff at the Danish Embassy

The Danish Embassy in KL welcomed two new members of staff starting 1st September: Consul Mrs. Susanne Hansen taking over from Mr. Søren Einar Olsen while Counselor Mr. Bo Mønsted is taking over from Mr. Steen Hommel. Both had Malaysia as their first priority when applying for their new overseas postings.
On the surface it could seem that Susanne Hansen and Bo Mønsted have a lot in common. Both came from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen and arrived with their families on 20 August to “acclimatise” a bit before starting their new jobs on 1st September. They also both moved into their predecessors’ residences upon arrival… and both moved into the home of their own choices one month later. Both found the start in KL a bit of a challenge. But this is where similarities stop.

Counselor Bo  Mønsted
Bo has a Master of Political Science and has spent his 5 year working carrier in the Ministry. He has amongst others been working at the UN Office and the Middle East Office focusing on Iraq and the Arabic countries in general. He has also spent a fair amount of time with the Danish Export Council working with high technology and in particular with innovative small and medium sized companies.
“I applied for this position in KL because it seems like a great challenge with a job covering many areas including my favorite subject Trade which is also covering Agriculture, Oil & Gas etc. Even more exciting for me of course is that Environment will be something that I need to look after from the 1st February 2007. It will give me a very busy but allround job and, no doubt, long hours with exciting challenges”, says Bo who will be posted in KL for 3 years.

Consul Susanne Hansen
Susanne has previously been overseas for 20 years and comes with a great deal of experience though this is her first job as Consul/Attaché. Recently she was working in DANIDA with administration of research funds in developing countries. Her overseas postings has taken her to New York (UN), Colombia, Nigeria, Algeria, Turkey, Pakistan and India.
“After 3 ½ years at the Ministry I felt that it was time to get out again and to try something a bit more challenging. That’s one of the reasons why KL was my first priority. Working at a small embassy, the challenges will be many with half the job covering consular duties and the other half administrative tasks. Added to this is consular work for the Philippines so I expect a very busy time here in KL”, says Susanne who will be in KL for 4 years.

New skills not imagined
Both Susanne and Bo agree that the start in KL has been exciting and with work more wide-ranging than in the past:
“On a small Embassy like the one in KL we all need to be multi-tasking on top of our normal job areas. It’s not your typical 9 to 5 job as we suddenly need to step into areas outside our normal expertise”, says Susanne.
“We don’t always know in advance what the day will bring which makes all days different and sometimes very exciting. And Susanne is on call 24/7”, adds Bo.
One of the new areas both have had to immerse themselves into has been Crisis Management:
“In case of a serious crisis we can set up a complete office in the middle of a jungle… if need be. We can both operate the portable computers, faxes, telephones and the internet through satellite connections so we’re completely independent in the worst case scenario…  though it seems quite unlikely we’ll ever need it in a country like Malaysia. Who would have imagined that we would have to learn skills so different from our normal office jobs”, both Susanne and Bo agrees about their newly acquired capabilities.
“Hopefully we will never face a natural disaster or other major crisis situations as seen in this region in the past”, adds Bo who was sent to Phuket twice during the last tsunami and in June helped with the evacuation from Lebanon.

A challenging start
Both Susanne and Bo have had their share of challenges that face all families moving to a new country. Being new in a job always require some extra hours to get op top of things but obviously there is extra pressure to ensure the accompanying family’s welfare and that all are adapting to the new country.
“The first couple of months turned out to be a bit of a challenge while settling into the new job, finding a place to live and making a home out of the fully furnished housing we’ve been provided. And let’s not forget about getting to know the city while getting lost (very) often and at the same time making sure the family is happy… that has been exciting and a bit tough. Now we can hopefully start getting to know the country we’re in, making friends outside the job and settle into some kind of routine”, both Susanne and Bo agree.
“Work is taking up a much larger part of life now than before but it has been natural to focus a lot of energy on the family as they are brought out of their normal surroundings and far away from friends and family”, they both agree. Susanne is dedicated to make up for this by persistently doing school homework with her 8 year old daughter Katia while Bo brings his wife Patcharee along to evening functions where possible.
Susanne is in KL with her husband Farooqi, whom she met while working in Pakistan, and their 8 year old daughter Katia who is attending the Mont Kiara International School. Bo is here with his Thai wife Patcharee whom he met while studying in Bangkok some 10 years ago.

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