Zapraszamy Was do zapoznania się z pierwszym wywiadem z cyklu #KarierawDyplomacji. Poznajcie Sekretarza Ambasady Argentyny w Polsce, Miguela Ángela Cuñę.
Could you tell us more about the beginnings of your career?
Well, in my country, first you have to pass several exams on different topics like economics, international law, constitutional law, politics and history of Argentine and the rest of the world. After the exams, I started writing reports on certain political and economic topics, as well as I had to pass an exam in front of a tribunal made of several ambassadors. Once you passed through all these stages, if your score is high enough, you get a two-year internship in the Argentine Institute of Foreign Affairs (ISEN), where you have kind of postgraduate studies and practices in order to get you ready for working at the ministry. There you attend classes; elaborate papers, make presentations and also have to pass several exams. Once you finished this two-year period at the ISEN, you are ready to start working at the MFA. In my case, I started working for a short period of time in the Undersecretary of Promotion of Investments and after that, as desk officer for ASEAN countries and Oceania at the Directorate for Bilateral Economic Negotiations with Asia and Oceania. Since July 2013 I’m serving at the Argentine Embassy in Poland. This is my first post abroad.
How do you like Poland?
I am very happy that I am here. I loved this country since the very first moment. Initially I came to Poland for six months, in replacement of the previous consul, and after that I applied for the post here, which is in our case of five years.
What are your main duties in the embassy?
Our embassy is rather small, we´re only two diplomats working here, my boss, Mrs. Ambassador and myself. But our local staff, all of them Polish and one Spanish person, is absolutely great and hard-working. I’m really glad to work with them. When it comes to me, I am in charge of the Consular Section and of the Economic and Commercial Section of the Embassy. I have to mention that our embassy covers Lithuania too, provided that we don’t have an embassy there. On a daily basis I also have to deal with cultural and political issues, as well as with any topic related to the bilateral relation.
And what about the main advantages of working in diplomacy?
In my opinion the main advantage is the great possibility to gain experience and knowledge. Every day you deal with many aspects of the embassy, even administrative matters, and it’s a result of working in a small embassy when it comes to the diplomatic and local staff. This kind of work is for sure challenging. You never get bored.
I’m convinced that there are also some disadvantages of your job.
Surely there are some disadvantages too. I think that in my situation it is quite hard or even impossible sometimes, to become a specialist in a certain topic, because you have to deal with many issues at the same time. Of course there’re also some disadvantages related to the distance. My country is thousands of kilometers away from Poland, and therefore my family and friends are far away. I think this is an aspect of this career you certainly must give some thought to. But anyway I think that the positive aspects outweigh any disadvantages. I’m sure that when the time came for me to go back to Buenos Aires I will have quite a good knowledge on how an embassy works.
If you were to hire somebody in the embassy, what kind of character traits would you look for?
At our embassy we’re very fond of team work. There is a lot of things that you can learn over time regarding your daily duties at any job, skills you can develop over time, but the capability for team working and for cooperation is of the utmost importance. When you work in an embassy, especially in one small-sized like ours, you spend probably the biggest part of your day there, so I think it is very important to get along with the rest of the team.
You’ve achieved a lot, but I believe that you still have some goals in your life.
As far as my career is concerned, my next goal is to be promoted to the first secretary, something that will probably happen in the beginning of the next year. However, I believe that work is not everything. Other aspects of life, such as family and friends are also very important to me, as well as the time to devote to God, your hobbies and to travel.
If you had an opportunity to choose any country to work there next, which one would you choose?
Unfortunately I can’t choose Poland again right after coming back to Argentina, only if I were to be an ambassador in the future. If I were to choose, surely it would be any country in Central or Eastern Europe, for example Hungary.
What kind of education should a diplomat have?
I studied political science, as well as international trade. Many of my colleagues are political scientists too, but there are as well some diplomats who studied law, international relations, sociology and economics. However there are some exceptions, for example I got to know some psychologists, engineers and even a dentist, who joined the foreign service. Certainly, if you study a subject connected to politics, law, history or economics, you will be better prepared for a career in diplomacy. But since it’s a multidisciplinary profession, you can’t rule out people with different backgrounds.