1. Who have you worked with that has most inspired you in your career, and how?
I had the privilege of knowing the late Ambassador Jean Kennedy Smith, John F Kennedy’s sister. She was was appointed US Ambassador to Ireland in the 1990s and took real risks to help bring about peace in Northern Ireland. She had boundless energy and curiosity about human nature which helped her greatly in her work.
2. What one item would you save from your home were it on fire? (Apart from your photo album)
Well, I guess my wife and kids would be top of the list. After that my priority would be our dog Sammy. Her fire-fighting skills aren’t up to scratch, and she would never forgive us if she was left behind.
3. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
Some years ago I cycled coast-to-coast across America from the Pacific northwest in Washington to Maine in New England. After working in Manhattan for a year, it was a joy to travel through small-town America and see some amazing landscapes as well as meeting generous and friendly people along the way.
4. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
I read Andrea Wulf’s biography of Alexander von Humboldt during the first lockdown last year. Von Humboldt was an extraordinary German polymath, naturalist, and explorer who travelled through Latin America and Russia in the 1800s. He also described human-induced climate change in the year 1800, which was quite an achievement.
5. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I enjoy inflicting my mediocre cooking abilities on friends and family. I mean who doesn’t like over-cooked spaghetti with tomato sauce, too much garlic and a decent bottle of Chianti?