Chair of APM Women In Project Management
CH Smith Consulting Ltd is run by Claire Smith. A former senior diplomat, during an unconventional career she worked in China, Pakistan, Germany and Switzerland for the UK government, a major Swiss bank, the UK Cabinet Office and the German Foreign Ministry.
With over 25 years’ experience as a diplomat, Claire was one of the first Mandarin – speaking women to be posted to Beijing, as China began to open up following the Cultural Revolution. A well-known and respected diplomat, Claire was part of the UK government delegation to negotiate the future of Hong Kong and ran the UK government’s programme to bring Chinese professionals, starved of contact with the outside world, to the UK.
Leaving China, Claire returned to London before being seconded to the German Foreign Ministry where she negotiated trade deals and cultural and educational relations with Taiwan. She was also the first non-German to work in the ministry’s crisis centre.
This was followed by a highly eventful period as Political Counsellor in Islamabad, Pakistan. Evacuated after 9/11 with a suitcase, mobile phone and a small son, Claire returned to London to work in the Cabinet Office, before running a large department in the Foreign & Commonwealth Office while at the same time being a member of the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee.
Claire speaks near-native German, fluent French and Mandarin. Claire is also a visiting professor and lecturer at several UK universities.
Drawing on this extraordinary professional life as a diplomat, trustee, non-executive director, adviser and board chair, Claire is an experienced and engaging keynote speaker.
Expert in managing the complexities of global business practices and the art of negotiation, Claire set up her consultancy at the end of 2013.
Areas of Expertise
Risk Management and Negotiation
International Business, Risk and Security Operations
Governance, Ethics and Compliance
Her entire presentation I spent listening to her stories with my jaw dropped or frantically taking notes. It was all so inspiring. I can tell she carefully selected topics to cover, ensuring all the subject matter had the dual purpose of passing along helpful work life lessons, and discussing program and crisis management. Her lessons on apprenticeship, brand recognition, adapting and allowing our careers to be “imperfect”, pushing outside of our comfort zones, and stakeholder management were all insightful topics.
Claire, thank you for being such a great example of what someone can do in public service. It was fascinating to hear about your experiences. I especially appreciated being reminded that there are many decent people of goodwill in public service, despite the impressions given by the cynical mass media of today.
Design Engineer, SAFE
Claire, thank you for sharing your amazing international diplomatic life experience with us. Looking forward to another round of long conversation when you visit us again in LA.
A great speaker, very clear, super anecdotes – engaging. I’d love to see her again
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your very impressive career with us. I thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and Q&A.
Sr. Business Analyst TV Licensing
I’m very thankful that you gave us an opportunity to meet these INCREDIBLE people. Out of all of the speakers, I was mostly amazed by Claire!!! What a character!!! I always bow to the people who can pursue their dreams and can make a difference.
Quality Assurance Project Lead
Thanks once again for all the time and effort you put into an excellent presentation. The lessons you drew from your time in the FCO were highly pertinent to us in business.
Claire’s experience as a diplomat was very interesting and insightful. She did a great job in relating those experiences to work situations and skills that we might use in our daily jobs (i.e. relationship building, negotiating, etc.).
Sr. Business Analyst, SAFE
Truly an amazing work trajectory. Could have listened to her all day with all her experiences. Would absolutely love to hear more of what training and preparation that she does prior to entering a hostage negotiation situation. So down to earth and relatable. Her interpersonal skills, awareness and listening skills were off the charts. Makes me wish I could re-think my career, and I’ve always loved what I do.
Sr. Director, SAFE
Amazing speaker, brought a little known subject to life. When Claire spoke you could hear a pin drop in the room. Claire has the rare ability to captivate her audience, which is quite a feat when the room is full of IT Techies. Claire combines subtle wit with fascinating stories, all the time projecting confidence and authority. I could listen to Claire speak for hours.
Technical Architect, CAFE