Seychelles Time Zone UTC+04:00
Capital City Victoria
Currency Seychellois rupee
National Day 29 June
The new Seychelles High Commissioner Mr Derick Ally was brought up in a large and loving family as one of 14 children on Seychelles second largest island, Praslin. “My mother always told us that we should work hard, be kind to people, and be honest in all our dealings. I think that advice prepares you for any career.”
An opportunity to travel came when he left Seychelles to study at the University of Auckland and at the Auckland College of Education in New Zealand. After teaching for a few years, he joined the Foreign Service at his brother’s suggestion, first spending almost ten years as Head of Protocol. “The intense workload, long hours and the level of stress – even for a small country – meant at times the job was overwhelming.” But Mr Ally believes this experience allowed him “to understand the finer points of diplomacy. I think that time in protocol is good training for every future diplomat.”
With a new President, came a new opportunity, and Mr Ally was appointed Director General for Presidential Affairs, doubling up as Chief of Presidential Protocol. During this time, Mr Ally accompanied his boss to the funeral of Pope John Paul II. “Attended by so many world leaders past and present, it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,” he says. Keen to broaden his horizons, he applied for a job with the Commonwealth Secretariat, becoming Executive Assistant to Secretary-General The Rt Hon Sir Don McKinnon. Based in London for nine years, he saw in Kamalesh Sharma as the next Secretary-General in 2008. “These were two great Secretaries-General who are passionate about the Commonwealth,” he exclaims. He looks forward to participating in the UK-based CHOGM next year as a delegate.
On his return to the Seychelles, Mr Ally wanted to gain some expertise in another field and put his diplomatic career on pause to become General Manager for Corporate Services of the Seychelles Pension Fund. Passionate about supporting his team and mentoring staff, the first thing he looked at was human resources. “Sir Don McKinnon used a saying from his native New Zealand: ‘He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata’ – the people, the people, the people. If you don’t look after your people, the organisation is never going to operate at its optimal capacity.”
The High Commissioner is also committed to these values in the UK. His diplomatic jurisdiction covers ten countries, plus two international organisations – his workload is considerable. He’s already working closely with relevant stakeholders: “It is always good when we put our heads together. We must explore trade possibilities not just between the UK and Seychelles, but also with Commonwealth and other nations outside of these groups.”
Education is another area Mr Ally is keen to explore. Here again he says, “Capacity building is key, especially for a small country. If you train one person, it makes a big difference – it’s not a drop in the ocean.” Mr Ally also lends his support to the Seychelles Tourist Office, within the same building. “Last year, we had a record of over 300,000 tourists coming to Seychelles, so this is hugely important.”
The High Commissioner believes that the lack of resources that so often accompanies a small country is the Seychelles’ greatest diplomatic challenge. “With few embassies around the world, and limited human resources in the High Commission, I am working alongside a strong network of honorary consuls.” He and his team are closely observing and reacting to the implications of the UK leaving the EU. “We are wary of the possible collateral damage that small countries are likely to suffer.” He continues: “Tuna is our largest export to the UK and if we lose the preferential access to the UK market we will feel the negative effects within weeks.” Brexit, of course, has called for the UK to revitalise its relationships with Commonwealth countries. With all his experience in this area, he appears to be the ideal man for the job.
Thrilled to be back in London, he says: “I’ve been given a second chance to continue discovering this most wonderful of historic cities.” His family, however, is the strong thread that binds the High Commissioner’s life together. He looks forward to having his daughter and grandson visiting him in London, and in the little downtime he has, indulges a passion for genealogy and history.