The Conversation; Juliet Maric, crisis manager

 

How did you end up at the Foreign Office?

I spent most of my career in the private sector, but I took my family to Spain for a year; we were on the verge of coming back and there was an article about this job as consul in Alicante. A relative said, "Oh don't be silly, the Foreign Office doesn't employ people like you". I applied for a laugh, but never thought I'd get it. From the minute I walked into the consulate I thought this is what I should have been doing my whole life.

Alicante is a prime tourist spot. I expect you dealt with some funny calls?

We had a phonecall from a lady very concerned about a cat she'd found. And the consular officer, very deadpan, asked "Is it a British cat?".

What does your job entail?

Every crisis is different but we go into Crisis Response Mode, we establish a battle rhythm – we're very MoD in our terminology. We have a command and control gold-silver-bronze structure.

Gold-silver-bronze?

The gold leader's a bit like Highlander, there can be only one.

Are you the gold leader?

I don't get to be gold very often, which is a bit upsetting. You'd think as the head of the crisis department I should, wouldn't you? If the problem is in Cairo, the director for the Middle East region is the gold leader. I'm the silver crisis manager. My team runs the crisis centre, so they make sure all the basics are working – you can't be fannying around with a computer that doesn't work in the middle of a crisis.

Crises can happen at any time; how do you handle it?

I take my phone with me in the shower, I take my phone to the loo. The Crackberry, my daughter calls it, because I'm so addicted I can't have it out of my sight.

Do your kids understand?

Well I've only got one at home now, and if I have to leave her in the middle of the night, it's fine. We had a plane crash in Burma in the middle of opening Christmas presents and they weren't very impressed with that.

One of the big crises you've dealt with was the sinking of the Costa Concordia.

It was all quite quiet until the media started printing this image of the Titanic-looking ship sticking out of the water. Our phone lines just went ballistic.

Do you use all the social networks?

Twitter is the main one. When we get a call the first thing I do is turn on the telly, but with the Boston marathon the first thing I did was log on to Twitter.

There were all sorts of reports about the number of deceased in Boston.

The media never have the right numbers, they're a bit rubbish at that. We sit and watch it in the Crisis Centre going, "Oh God, what have they said now?".

There's been violence in Egypt and Turkey recently – what would you say to holidaymakers planning trips there?

Read our travel advice before you go – which the vast majority of people don't. And once you've read it, it'd be really good if you could follow it. There was a survey which said 53 per cent of people said that if they read it, they would ignore it.

It seems as if you have a good bunch of people here, not like you hear about in other departments.

We don't have any of that. The Foreign Office is generally full of nice people. The salaries are… but I guess that means people are here because they want to be here, not because they want to earn pot-loads of money.

Biography

Juliet Maric, 48, is Head of the Foreign Office's Crisis Management Department. She lives in London with her husband and daughter. The FCO's Know Before You Go campaign is at gov.uk/knowbeforeyougo

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Multiple Apprentices Required

£6240 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Apprentices are required to join a privat...

Sauce Recruitment: HR Manager

£40000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: This is an exciting opportunity for a HR...

Ashdown Group: Interim HR Manager - 3 Month FTC - Henley-on-Thames

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established organisation oper...

Recruitment Genius: HR Advisor

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our Client has been the leader ...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea