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In the Life, Martin Whalley
by Andrew Davis, Windy City Times
2017-09-20

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Looking at Martin Whalley's life, one of the words that certainly comes to mind is "cosmopolitan."

Educated at Britain's University of Bristol ( where he studied biological sciences ), Whalley, a consul, has worked in London, at The Hague in the Netherlands and at the British consulate in Sao Paulo, Brazil. ( In addition, he has traveled all over the world. ) Now he's in Chicago, working at the British consulate here.

However, it is also a temporary job ( generally four years ), which means he and his husband, Rafael, will probably be moving again within a couple years. "You make great friends, but you know that you're going to have to leave and start again—which is exciting and exhausting," Whalley said.

Regarding what attracted him to Chicago, Whalley told Windy City Times, "There were two things. I wanted to work in the USA because the relationship between the U.S. and the U.K. is really important. Also, it's a job where I get to manage a big team that works across a lot of different areas, so it's a good career move. Thirdly, it's just a great city to be in. Also, I was looking to go to an English-speaking country; we've been here two years and Rafael ( who I met in Sao Paolo ) now speaks perfect English."

As for a "typical workday," Whalley said, "My job is to represent the U.K. across the 14 states we cover. Therefore, my days are massively varied, which is my favorite part of the job. I would say that it probably breaks down into three or four areas.

"First, there is representing the U.K., politically. So it's dealing with state and city governments as well as reoprting back to London during elections about U.S. politics—and making sure the U.S. and U.K. understand what the other wants. There's also economic policy, and that involves working on such areas as energy policy and climate change, and trying to influence state and city governments.

"The third patch is about building and maintaining the U.K.'s reputation in the eyes of Americans—although sometimes we want to change perceptions. Sometimes Americans think of Britain as castles and formality—and it is those things; however, it's also modern and dynamic, like with the work we do on LGBT rights. And I guess the fourth part is working directly with American and British businesses, helping them expand into each other's territories."

Overseeing 14 states, there are bound to be conflicts on various subjects—so how does Whalley deal with those? He said, "Obviously, we'd like to use our influence to change minds, but we don't ever expect everybody to always agree with us. For example, the U.K. opposes the death penalty in all circumstances,; in some parts of the U.S., it's still used, so we like to set out our positions and hope that people will listen to us."

THE STATS

* Age: 35

* Relationship: Married to Rafael, a personal trainer

* Job title: Deputy consul general at the British Consulate Chicago

* Favorite snack: Chocolate

* Neighborhood: Streeterville ( "I like a big-city feel." )

* Dream vacation: California

* Favorite restaurant: "I like 90 Miles Cafe as well as restaurants in Greektown."

* Personal mantra: "Always say 'yes.' Be open to opportunity."


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