From DLG to the Diplomatic Service

DA alumna Brigitta Blaha on her career since graduating from DLG 13 in 1978

Brigitta BLAHA

After graduating from law studies at the University of Vienna, I joined the Diplomatische Akademie Wien in 1976 for the 13th Diploma Programme. I really enjoyed my time there. We were a small group of 20 students and the course lasted for three semesters. This mean that during the winter semester, we would overlap with other DLG Programmes. Apart from the lectures, we went on excursions to different places in Austria and, during the summer, we went abroad, in my case to Madrid and Montpellier for language studies. I further attended the ENA in Paris for one month.

Did the studies prepare me for my career? I wanted to join the foreign service or work for an international organisation. And indeed, I ended up passing the examen préalable at the Austrian Foreign Ministry. The courses and professors at the Academy certainly helped in preparing for that.

My diplomatic career took me to Washington and Bangkok, later to Rome and Tokyo, where I worked as a cultural counsellor, then to Hong Kong and New York as consul general and finally to Islamabad, where I served as ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I have enjoyed my postings greatly; I think the diplomatic service is an attractive profession. One gets to know about different cultures and languages and gets to engage with many interesting people. To discover new places has always fascinated me and still does. I especially enjoy creating connections between people and the work in the cultural field was ideal for that.

After retiring in 2018, I returned my hometown Vienna. I am currently the president of the Austria Pakistan Society, give lectures, do mentoring and have re-joined the board of the DA alumni club. I have two sons who have accompanied me on three and respectively four postings. I enjoy meeting young people, talking to them about my experiences and understanding what occupies their minds and what aspirations they have.

Encouraging women has also been on my agenda, both professionally and personally. I have participated - and still do - in various mentoring programs, for example at the University of Hong Kong or the Cross Mentoring Program of the Austrian government. At the moment, I am a mentor in the “Alma” program of my alma mater, the University of Vienna. Together with my diplomatic colleagues in Islamabad, we implemented several projects which aim at strengthening women or women’s organizations. People have also pointed out my part as a role model and many personal conversations encouraging women.

[April 2021]