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From Global Accelerated MBA to Deputy Ambassador Nicaragua to the U.K., Ireland and Iceland. A spotlight on Ricardo Carioni.

Ricardo started the Global Accelerated MBA in July 2018, at the Manchester centre. He is the Deputy Ambassador of Nicaragua to the U.K., Ireland and Iceland, serving as Chief of Staff and Head of the Political, Economic and Trade, Tourism, Cultural, Communications, Multilateral Organisations and Consular Offices. He is also the Official Representative of Nicaragua to the International Maritime Organisation, the International Coffee Organisation and the International Sugar Organisation, all based in London. 

Ricardo is a Nicaraguan diplomat actively engaged in international affairs, foreign and public policy development and implementation as well as government relations and multilateral and United Nations organisations. He promotes business, trade, investment and tourism for the government of Nicaragua.

During his diplomatic career, Ricardo has also been Director of the Latin American Trade and Investment Association, representing 19 countries and managing strategy and operations to promote trade and business between the UK and the region. He has also been President of the Latin America and Caribbean Group of Member States at the United Nations International Maritime Organisation.

Prior to joining the diplomatic service of his country, Ricardo worked in the private sector, leading global organisations with cross-functional, geographically-dispersed and multilingual teams. He designed and executed large-scale, cross-border strategies and projects in an ample variety of business and cultural settings, successfully growing brands and developing businesses as well as setting and managing editorial policy, content operations, analytics and communications. He has also launched innovative online consumer tech products and e-commerce platforms across different parts of the world for companies like TripAdvisor and William Hill.

Ricardo studied Negotiations at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research in Geneva, English Literature at the University of Sheffield, and Cultural Anthropology at Miami Dade College. He has now earned his Master’s Degree in Business Administration at our School. We speak to him to talk about the current situation and how it has impacted him and his job.

What are your thoughts on the current situation?

Coronavirus has impacted all dimensions of our lives, both at personal and professional levels. To call it a tragedy would be an understatement, considering all the lives lost, the unspeakable pain of those who lost their loved ones, and the ongoing suffering of many more under lockdown and other extremely challenging conditions in the U.K. and around the world. Whilst in some countries the peak has passed, and recovery begins, in others they’re still battling to survive the worse in the first wave of the pandemic. I would argue that it is easier to judge and criticize the choices and steps taken by people and/or governments, but harder to prescribe comprehensive solutions. However, I’m confident that humanity’s resilience and ability to adapt will prevail, and I’m sincerely hopeful that we’ll learn some lessons from each other, and be better prepared for the future. My only observation is that international solidarity, cooperation, multilateral and regional coordinated actions are essential to succeed.

Therefore, rather than offering criticism or solutions, I’d like to succinctly and candidly share my experience, alongside a few considerations and ideas, from my perspective as a working diplomat, a recent Alliance Manchester Business School MBA graduate, a husband and father, and someone living in London. Including challenging personal situations, such as personally having suffered and recovered from the illness, as well as adapting to perform my diplomatic duties and to better serve and support the community of Nicaraguans in the U.K., Ireland and Iceland.

How has Covid-19 impacted you personally?

Since the pandemic began in January, with lockdown declared in the U.K. in March and up until now when restrictions are starting to be relaxed, without a shadow of a doubt, the scariest moment was having my wife, who works in Cancer research trials at Charing Cross Hospital in London, show symptoms of Covid-19 – later confirmed by testing. For a moment I was truly scared, fearing the worse for her, whether my 13-year-old son would also be infected and become ill, and how I could help them if I became ill, which I eventually did as well. Fortunately, we are generally healthy and without underlying conditions, so our illness was bearable. It felt essentially like the worse flu we ever had, and since my wife became ill a week before me, we were able to take turns looking after each other. We are now fully recovered and back to our running and exercise routines, whilst being extra cautious to prevent any possible reinfection or spreading. If there were any, the one silver lining of this virus, is that most children tend to be asymptomatic, as it was in the case of my boy, who also has superbly adapted to online classes and virtual socializing.

How has the current situation affected your work life?

In my current role as Deputy Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, concurrent to Ireland and to the Republic of Iceland, serving for the past four years, I can share and must highlight that our work in diplomatic, multilateral, government and international affairs is rapidly having to adapt to new challenges and unscripted realities. Particularly with the diminished luxury of in-person interaction, which has historically been a fundamental core element of diplomacy. Diplomacy has been built on (and it maintains) a wealth of very traditional practices and protocols, where the adaptation and application of new digital technologies, has until now not generally been the norm, if we compare it to other sectors.

In the case of our Nicaraguan Embassy and our Consulates in the U.K., Ireland and Iceland, the Nicaraguan communities are our highest priority and responsibility. We haven’t stopped working, learning and evolving for a single day in order to serve and respond to the evolving needs of our people more effectively, particularly through the use of new technologies. We have had to respond to immediate problems, such as the organisation of mutual repatriation flights of nationals, in coordination with various governments, including the U.K. We have had to provide clear and constant advice to Nicaraguan expats as well as consular services and foreign nationals. All of this while strengthening bilateral relations with governments, academia, civil society and other institutions.

We are also actively collaborating and advancing our response to the pandemic at multilateral and United Nation organisations, in a variety of sectors, such as maritime, coffee and sugar. We have moved our regular and emergency in-person meetings to virtual meetings. We are working collectively with other countries, private and public sectors, joining efforts to ensure the production, trade and supply flows of food products, alongside the development and implementation of regulations and solutions across products supply chains, to support the millions of people, families and communities that depend on these sectors.

What are you working on next?

We are closely working with other organizations and partners to support other key sectors for my country (like travel and tourism) as we’re working in the responsible, sustainable and timely recovery of these industries, and to mitigate the long-term impact of Covid-19. Above all, I’m deeply impressed by the monumental spirit of solidarity, resilience and positivity, in the midst of the gravest challenge for travel, tourism, leisure and hospitality in recent history. I am extremely motivated by the inspiring sentiments that have transpired from my mostly online conversations with major stakeholders of these industries, as well as in other such as renewable energy, manufacturing, infrastructure, agri-business, education, health, fisheries, mining and natural resources.

It is paramount for governments to work in tandem with academia to develop the best scientifically informed policy and strategy. As such, I welcome the opportunities to engage with some of the brightest minds and top universities in the world, with the increasing range of webinars and roundtables that I’ve been recently attending. An example would be one event organised by my Alma Mater, the Alliance Manchester Business School, with an insightful virtual conversation on infrastructure development opportunities and design corresponding organisations to create and distribute economic and social value after the pandemic, with brilliant inputs from Professor Ian Reeves CBE, Professor D'Maris Coffman and Professor Nuno Gil.

We are working hard not to lose the momentum in important social areas where we have made significant progress. We are doing so by engaging with key organisations to keep developing and, where needed, adapting our strategies and implementing new plans. For instance, to name just a handful, there’s gender equality – Nicaragua is the fifth most gender equal country in the word and top in the American continent. Or Climate Action, with 83% of Nicaragua’s energy being produced from renewable resources. I’m looking forward to participating in the United Nations Climate Conference (COP 26), which I hope will be a momentous meeting (even if postponed to next year) hosted by the UK in partnership with Italy. We are determined to work hard and make the necessary commitments to achieve serious progress in Glasgow, to tackle Climate Change and protect nature. There’s also migration, which has shaped our history from the dawn of life and humanity. Now it’s our responsibility to facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people, by strategically implementing well-planned and managed policies, with international cooperation at multilateral level as core element, not by just closing borders and turning a blind eye. In fact, it’s more important than ever to influence migration policy globally, enhancing cooperation and contributing to the identification of practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need. And protecting minority groups, which around the world are under extra pressure during the current pandemic. As a government, it is our obligation to keep working hard to stay alert and firm in ensuring the protection of all minorities’ rights, particularly our Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities in the Nicaraguan Caribbean autonomous regions.

And last, but most certainly not least, we’re continuing our efforts to promote dialogue and understanding between the people of Nicaragua and those living in Great Britain, Ireland and Iceland, primarily through what make us humans, our culture. To try to overcome social distancing, we’ve launched a series of virtual exhibitions at our Nicaragua House Cultural Centre, to bring the warmth, colours, rhythm, flavours, literature and traditions of my people and country, to celebrate the cultural and historic bonds between the U.K. and the land of lakes and volcanoes, of Native American, African, Spanish, British and multicultural roots, Caribbean and Pacific, of Darío and Sandino. To give a warm virtual welcome at our cultural and business hub, physically in the heart of Fitzrovia, with unique events promoting tourism planning, trade and investment, as well as offering an exciting cultural agenda open to the public with art exhibitions, film showings, musical and dance performances, book launches, lectures, exclusive networking events, and virtual tastings of the world's finest chocolate, coffee, rum, cigars and more.

To conclude, I must admit that I truly welcome this acceleration of advanced digital technologies entering the diplomatic world, as well as the agile response of our partners and organisations, to keep advancing our diplomatic and business agendas in the midst of social distancing measures. Perhaps I’m especially welcoming and successfully adapting to digital diplomacy partly due to my previous professional experience, particularly pioneering new technologies at TripAdvisor; however, I think these changes in the diplomatic world are here to stay and will have a long-term positive impact.

Finally, I have to express my gratitude, and that of my family, to all the NHS and essential workers in the U.K. that put their lives at risk to look after us and feed us. My message is clear: we have serious challenges but overwhelming resilience, and we’ll only succeed if we can fully embrace and practice compassion, solidarity, collaboration and cooperation.

We would like to thank Ricardo for taking the time to speak to us. If you wish to get in touch with Ricardo or wish to know more, you can check his LinkedIn account.