FCO appoints first BAME Board Member
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has appointed Kumar Iyer as their Chief Economist thereby making him their first BAME origin member of the Board of Management.
He will lead the FCO’s Economics Unit which provides in-house economic analysis input into foreign policy formulation, and also develops economics capability within the FCO through the Economics and Prosperity Faculty of the Diplomatic Academy.
Born in London, Kumar spent a number of his childhood years living in India before returning to the UK aged 11 and living in Stoke-on-Trent. In addition to English, he grew up speaking Hindi and Tamil, which came to be useful when he was posted to India as British Deputy High Commissioner and Director General for Economics, Trade and Commercial Affairs in South Asia in 2013.
“I think living abroad during my early childhood gave me a sense of the world as a bigger place and I developed an interest in international issues that has always stayed with me. The role is a real privilege and marries my love of economics with my interest in global diplomacy,” stated Mr Iyer.
“Growing up in Stoke-on-Trent I never thought I would get an opportunity to do something like this, but I’m thrilled to be re-joining the Foreign Office at such an important time,” he added.
Mr Iyer is currently the British Deputy High Commissioner in Mumbai with responsibility for Western India and the Director General - Economic Trade and Investment with overall responsibility for the UK-India trade relationship. The Mumbai office has some 200 staff, whose main work covers trade and investment, entry clearance and bilateral relations with India. There are over 80 Department of International Trade (DIT) staff across India that works to support British businesses wanting to trade in India and Indian businesses investing in the UK.
Mr Iyer has taught international finance and macroeconomics at Harvard where he was a Kennedy Scholar, conducted his post-graduate studies at Cambridge and is currently a Visiting Academic at Oxford. He has split his career between the private and public sectors holding senior positions in both areas including with Oliver Wyman, the Boston Consulting Group, HM Treasury, the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
Sir Simon McDonald Permanent Under-Secretary at the Foreign Office said: “We are glad to appoint Kumar as Chief Economist. He brings insight into global economics and international finance, and experience of working on economic diplomacy and prosperity abroad. Kumar will also become our first BAME FCO Board Member, marking a significant step in ensuring diversity across the FCO, particularly within the FCO’s leadership.
After leaving academia for consultancy, Mr Iyer joined the Prime Minister’s Strategy Unit as Deputy Director at the height of the global financial crisis during Gordon Brown’s tenure as Prime Minister. He then moved to HM Treasury where his team was responsible for the overall strategy and co-ordinated the Budget and Autumn Statements before joining the FCO.
Since 2017 he has been working part-time as a Visiting Academic at Hertford College, Oxford, as well as being a Partner in the Financial Services Practice at leading global management consultancy, Oliver Wyman.