Welcome back Fiona Ritchie

Last week, Heriot’s was delighted to welcome back Fiona Ritchie (1994), who was appointed British High Commissioner to the Republic of Malawi in 2022.

Fiona is the UK government’s representative in Malawi, responsible for UK/Malawi relations including political work, trade and investment, oversight of the UK’s development programmes, cultural relations and consular services. She leads and manages the British High Commission team of more than 60 people.

‘Mum brought me up to believe I could be anything I wanted to be, and my secondary education at George Heriot’s cemented that belief. The School opened up a world of opportunities for me on a fully-funded scholarship.

‘I read English Literature at Aberdeen University and planned to become an Advocate or an academic scholar. A gap year teaching English in Japan ignited my passion for travel and living overseas. But I returned to the UK to start a PhD at St Andrews, switching instead to a Masters in Information and Library Studies at Strathclyde University. During my post-graduation job hunt I saw an advertisement for a role in the then Department for International Development which appealed to my interest in other countries and people, and international  development. The rest is history!

‘I also loved Geography – particularly Human Geography, which is pretty much the foundation of international development – at school and never realised at the time that I could turn this into a fulfilling career travelling the world and helping people move out of poverty’.

Fiona met with one of her former teachers, Graeme Brownlee, Head of Music, and visited her favourite classroom at the top of the English Turret where Mrs Hay was exploring Macbeth with S3 pupils.

Fiona’s advice? ‘Dream big and aim high. Don’t be afraid of failure. You don’t need to be perfect: you are already enough. Find good role models. Never stop learning’.