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Guest Speaker 2018 – H.E. Asif Ahmad


British High Commissioner to Jamaica and the Bahamas H.E. Asif Ahmad is the RJRGLEANER Sports Foundation guest speaker for the 2018 National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards ceremony.

Ahmad, a former international banker has 19 years of service to the British diplomatic service working in the Foreign service and at 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister Tony Blair.

In 1999 Ahmad was appointed first secretary in the British Foreign Office, having been singled out for his formidable financial background, and assigned to the finance department from which he was quickly promoted to the senior civil service, notably as head of the Resource Budgeting Department and then head of the Commonwealth Department.

Successful stints as Tony Blair’s Head of Communication and Information and subsequently, Director for Asian trade, led to his eventual return to the diplomatic service, where he was unofficial UK ambassador to Burma in the midst of efforts to free political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, now the Burmese leader and served as ambassador to Thailand, and then the Phillipines before taking up the post of high commissioner to Kingston in 2017.

Ahmad had never worked in a Commonwealth country and when the Jamaican vacany came open he fought for the position, outdoing seventeen of his colleague diplomats for the job. For him the position was more than a mere appointment, “I wanted to transform that [post] into something more productive, with greater focus on areas of growing importance such as small business, agriculture, music, sports and the like,”

Since his appointment, the High Commissioner has focused on agricultural aid, music, the possible hosting of sporting events, oil exploration, electricity generation from waste materials, education, anti-violence measures and trade. He is particularly pleased that Usain Bolt’s Tracks and Records has opened a branch in London as he thinks this is an area Jamaica needs to explore and expand in sports and music.

With his global credentials and obvious focus on Jamaican sport as a developmental tool in Jamaican British relations, the High Commissioner was an obvious choice for guest speaker at the 58th Annual RJRGLEANER National Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year Awards.