About the President
University of Leeds; University of Leipzig; Fudan University, Shanghai
English, Chinese, Dutch, German, French, Spanish
College President, UWC South East Asia, Singapore (current); Director China, British Council, China; Executive Director, Half the Sky Foundation, China; Consul-General, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, China, France, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Saudi Arabia
Single with two adopted daughters
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." – His Holiness, the Dalai Lama
A career British diplomat for 23 years until 2010, Carma worked in a wide variety of roles and across continents, including bilateral politics, trade and investment, immigration and protocol. Her diplomatic career spanned the UK, Europe, China and Saudi Arabia, where she was the first female Director of Trade and Investment. Her final three postings were as Consul-General in Chongqing (China), Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) and finally Shanghai (China).
Carma has spent much of her adult life in China; 2019 marked the 35th anniversary of Carma first going to China, as a student at Fudan University in Shanghai. After leaving the Foreign Office, Carma became Executive Director at China’s single largest international NGO, Half the Sky Foundation (2010–2013), focused on enriching the lives of China’s orphaned children. Her work at Half the Sky Foundation supported a unique partnership with the Chinese government, for the development of a training programme for local child welfare workers and towards building a sustainable future for the NGO.
In 2013, Carma joined the British Council as Director China, and was concurrently appointed Minister for Culture and Education in the British Embassy Beijing, becoming a member of the Ambassador’s senior leadership team. Throughout her professional life, Carma has affected meaningful change in the government, international education and development sectors in several countries, most recently completing a complex business transformation at the British Council in China. Carma has been honoured twice by Her Majesty The Queen, for her service to the UK abroad; she was was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to UK relations with China (2003) and a Companion of St Michael and St George (CMG) for the success of the UK pavilion at Shanghai Expo (2010).
Originally from Scotland, Carma is proud to call herself a global citizen. She grew up living in multiple countries as her family moved around with her father’s job, and so identifies as a ‘third culture kid’ with formative life experiences that will be familiar to many in our community. Through her professional life, she has developed a deep knowledge of the cultural nuances required to successfully navigate and create intercultural understanding and an appreciation of the importance of respecting diverse perspectives when working towards peace between people.
On joining UWCSEA, Carma said, “I am delighted and humbled to be joining the UWCSEA community as the College’s first President. I have had the privilege to live and work outside the UK for most of my life: I am internationalist by conviction, and with a lifelong commitment to social responsibility and service, I look forward to joining a movement which inspires and is inspired by its students and alumni—to take action and to make a difference locally, nationally and internationally.”
Articles, interviews, reflections and media
- UWCSEA commitment to antiracism – Points of View, UWCSEA Perspectives, 10 June 2020
- Reflections of a newcomer – Dunia Magazine, December 2019
- UWCSEA welcomes first College President – Points of View, UWCSEA Perspectives, 5 August 2019
Speeches and conferences
- Aurora Forum Goodwill Ambassador, Armenia, October 2019
- Authentic Leadership: Three key learnings as a woman in diplomacy – Keynote Speaker, Women of Influence in Education Conference, Hong Kong, September 2019
- Welcome speaker at UWCSEA Open Days – Singapore, September and October 2019
Webinars and Videos
- Celebrating Inspiring Women – an International Women's Day webinar on Monday, 8 March 2021
- Meet incoming UWCSEA College President, Carma Elliot CMG OBE – published 19 August 2019