H.E. Makeda Antoine-Cambridge
An up close and personal interview with an extraordinary Bradford Alumna
Please tell us about your recent roles and what they involved:
In my most recent role, I have been the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations, Geneva and Specialized Agencies in Europe as well as the Ambassador to Austria and Italy.
In that role, I was responsible for covering 20+ UN Organizations including World Trade Organization (WTO) and accredited to the following International Organizations and Agencies in Geneva, Berne, Paris, Rome and Vienna:
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
United Nations High Commission for Refugees
United Nations High Commission for Human Rights
United Nations Environment Programme Activities
International Organization for Migration (IOM)
International Labour Organization (ILO)
World Health Organization (WHO)
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)
International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
World Meteorological Organization (WMO)
International Trade Centre (ITC)
World Trade Organization (WTO)
Universal Postal Union (UPU)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD)
World Food Programme (WFP)
United Nations Organization Vienna (UNOV)
United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO)
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime(UNODC)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
I was also Ambassador of Trinidad and Tobago to Austria and Italy.
You came to Bradford to study MSc Management Research. Why did you decide to study for a masters in Management Research and why Bradford?
My core studies have largely been in areas of Information and Communications Technology and General Business since at that time I had worked in the Telecommunications sector in areas of billing and settlement and product management.
While I had completed an MBA focusing on strategic management, I was very interested in postgraduate research and how my experience could contribute to the body of knowledge and help address questions on globalization, multinational corporations, spillover and income equality specific to developing countries.
Bradford was a natural fit for me as it was highly-rated amongst British universities and allowed for part-time study in the area that I chose.
Tell us about your experience of studying at the University – how has your Bradford degree helped you in a personal or professional capacity?
Bradford was a diverse, multi-ethnic university that attracted students from many backgrounds. The professors, supervisors and deans were committed to our success and always willing to accommodate our intense work schedules.
They taught me the need to reflect daily and the importance of assessing “why” I was doing “what” I was doing.
My class had great geographical representation and since it was my first program of study with students from nearly all continents of the world, I thoroughly enjoyed the discussions, group assignments and conversations.
This was very useful for my personal development and in my career, which had blossomed to one of business development, strategic partnerships, international business and now international diplomacy.
As Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago to the United Nations and Specialized Agencies in Europe; as well as the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Trinidad and Tobago to Austria and Italy, How, do you feel we should inspire future generations to solve the world’s greatest problems?
I am a firm believer in diversity and inclusion. I also believe once young people have been exposed, they can bring their rich, innovative ideas and perspectives to the table and so force us to see the world’s greatest problems as challenges since every problem is really an opportunity-in-waiting.
The world is their playground and education opens the door for them.
March 8th is International Women’s Day – How has Bradford shaped you to become the successful woman you are?
The Dean of my program was an inspiration. She was warm yet firm and willingly shared how she juggled life and persevered in the midst of challenges. Other female professors also shared their motivations for doing postgraduate research and study. Hearing of their experiences only encouraged me to push forward. During my program, I also completed an assignment that focused on women leadership and some of the challenges associated with it namely the glass ceiling, the absence of mentors, lack of strong network and “queen bee syndrome.”
That study unearthed the deep-seated challenges and strong sociological nuances that undermine gender equality and gender equity in the world of work, every day.
Having only worked in male dominated industries and sectors, it sensitized me to the battles women face every day and the need for us to advocate on behalf of other women for equality and parity.
Bradford was instrumental in helping me understand the need to not only climb the ladder and focus on breaking the glass and concrete ceilings, but also to help open doors for other women.
What educational preparation would you recommend for someone who wants to advance in this field?
Generally, a first degree in social sciences is the basic minimum but given the importance of digital diplomacy, training in STEM might help one differentiate herself.
What advice would you give to students thinking about studying at Bradford and considering a career in businesses that improve lives?
Bradford is a great place to study. A beautiful, peaceful campus with lots of greenery, open spaces, lakes and swans, accompanied by amazing professors with great online resources and library facilities. As a multi-ethnic university, Bradford aims to bring out the best in its students.
Finally, do you have any advocacy messages for your incredible work?
One of my personal mantras is “ I can always make money but I am here (on earth) to make a difference”.
I also believe “nothing is impossible with God”
With this in mind, I have been fortunate to have met and worked with some amazing people on some fantastic projects and programs across the globe.
With 20+ years’ experience in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry my expertise lies in International Business, International Negotiations, Telecommunications, Strategic Partnerships, Business Development and Commercial Strategy. I have managed annual revenues of 500 M + USD and travelled to 70 + countries and successfully negotiated with top telecom providers (60+) across the globe.
However, a highlight of my life has been the creation of and involvement in agile and relevant Non-Governmental Organizations in areas of gender, youth, infectious diseases, education and the elderly such as listed below:
- OneTNT: Founding President. Trinidad and Tobago, NGO focused on nation-building and community development through online activism and offering free clinics (legal, medical, dental, optometrists) across Trinidad and Tobago. OneTNT will partner with the Ministry of Gender Affairs in Trinidad and Tobago on SOS (Save our Sisters) initiatives. SOS projects target training in the schools and the creation of female police stations and or women’s units to treat with gender-based violence.
- GLOBAL EMERGING PATHOGENS TREATMENT CONSORTIUM (GET): Member of Board, South Africa Headquartered in Cape town, GET is a pan-African based consortium of experts focused on Emerging Infectious Diseases (EIDs) instrumental in research, treating and providing for Ebola survivors in Sierra Leone in 2015.
- GENESIS THE MOVEMENT: Founding Chair. Trinidad and Tobago: NGO focused on excellence in education and the widowed. Initiatives rewarded the most improved boy and girl for the academic year for each participating school. Genesis has been rolled out in fourteen (14) schools (primary, secondary and university) to date.
- HELICONIA FOUNDATION FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS: Founding President (Trinidad & Tobago): The first and only NGO targeted at youth leadership for young professionals in Trinidad and Tobago. Its members have been selected as senators, members of parliament and members of board for the current government.
As Ambassador, my focus has largely been on :
– Trade and development
– Intellectual Property
– Women and ICT/Trade
– Human Rights
Consequently, I was humbled to participate in the respective multilateral spaces as the CARICOM Coordinator for CARICOM Missions in United Nations, Geneva covering Trade and Development, Peace and Human Rights, Labor and Health (2019-2020). In this capacity, I was delighted to work with CARICOM Missions on :
One -Day Conversation and panel discussion in commemoration of the International Decade for People of African Descent in collaboration with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent; Sir Professor Hilary Beckles as key note speaker.
Panel session during UNCTAD’s eCommerce week entitled “Setting Global Rules on Ecommerce; opportunities, challenges, perspectives and impact on developing countries, specifically Small Vulnerable Economies (SVEs), Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Economies ( LDCs). Panelists included Ambassadors from Singapore, Rwanda, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the Pacific Mission, UNCTAD and the South Centre.
Three (3) CARICOM WTO Workshops on MSMEs, Ecommerce, Investment Facilitation, Fisheries, Agriculture and WTO Reform.
In a personal / national capacity, I was grateful for the leadership opportunities to participate as:
Member of the Advisory Board, STRATEGIC HERITAGE PLAN, United Nations-Geneva (2018-2019)
Member of Advisory Body, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (2019 -2020)
Member of Coordination Committee, World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (2019-2021)
International Gender Champion (2017-2020)
Co-host with European Union and Senegal on 5th International Gender Champions, and Trade Impact Group Workshop on “Women and Digital Trade”.
and to contribute to forums as a Panelist / Moderator for:
Keynote Speaker – International Telecommunication Union (ITU)’s Equals Technology Awards 2019, Berlin, Germany.
WTO Public Forum
UNCTAD Ecommerce Week,
ITU’s 13th Symposium on ICT, Environment and Climate Change
WSIS (The World Summit on the Information Society Forum) Forum 2019
6th Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction,
Side Event in the Margins of Human Rights Council Session: Women and Climate Change
Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week: Unleashing Innovation for Disaster Preparedness
In 2019, I was also graciously awarded as one of the UN’s Global Top 100 The Most Influential People of African Descent– Class of 2019 (Diplomacy and Protocol) in commemoration of the UN International Decade for People of African Descent 2015-2024.
As the youngest female Ambassador in Geneva, my tour of duty has come to an end as of February 2020 and I am grateful for this extraordinary chapter in my life.
Accounting for about 50% of the world’s population, it is critical that women take their place in this world and do all in their power to make your corner of the world a better place. Your contribution is invaluable. Your ideas, perspectives, innovations, businesses are needed. Whatever is on your heart to do, start today. You never know how many lives you can impact and inspire.
I leave you with some encouragement from Maya Angelou “ your crown has been bought and paid for , put it on your head and wear it”
Own your greatness. Shine your light. The world needs you! ❤️