In a career that spanned 21 years, the Montrealer Ray Fankhauser, earned his share of life’s lessons while establishing himself as a respected Canadian diplomat and a trusted veteran of global affairs.
Having spent half his life travelling and moving from nation to nation as a representative of the Canadian government and people, Frankhauser who has accumulated a laundry list of citations and awards from Global Affairs Canada for excellence and exemplary service, has decided that he is ready for the next chapter.
He wrapped up his service at the end of 2021 at 43 years-old.
For him, it’s not so much about his age and it’s certainly not retirement.
“It’s just that after so many years working at that level, you see opportunities along the way and you acquire skills and experiences that you want to use in a different capacity.”
As such, his two decades on the frontlines of Canada’s diplomatic services has positioned him to meet the challenges that come with his new calling as a consultant and a strategist on global affairs.
Looking back, Fankhauser says his blessings of being in the right environment as well as his own curiosity to learn more about the world helped propel him forward at an early age.
He grew up in a household with his parents and sister that was rooted in the church as a Seventh Day Adventist.
He carved a path of academic excellence at every level, skipping two grades at elementary school, and then excelling at Marianopolous College, where he completed his DEC in Health Sciences at 17 years-old.
He chose to study Business Administration at the Canadian University College (now Burman University) in Alberta.
It was there that he signed up for a recruitment program for the Canada diplomatic services during his senior year.
“It was a long recruitment process. But the beginning of the process was fairly similar to any other, where there was a recruitment campaign to hire Foreign Service officers. There was a bunch of requirements that were listed; you had to write up a battery of exams… general knowledge and aptitude tests and so on.”
A year later, Fankhauser was selected for diplomatic training and relocated to Ottawa.
He remembers the massive cultural shift that came with his first overseas assignment as a 2nd Secretary in China.
“Because age carries such significance in their culture, at the beginning it was a bit sensitive because at the time I was so young. However, in time I was able to establish my authority and my position.”
His next diplomatic posting was to Brazil in 2001, where he served as vice-consul in São Paolo. While there he attended graduate school and obtained his MBA in 2003.
In 2007 he was posted to the Canadian embassy in Germany where he served as first secretary and vice consul, until 2011. He led the Property and General Services Program that covered Canada’s diplomatic presence across Germany (Berlin, Munich,
and Dusseldorf, as well as leading the mission’s entry into the residential real estate market.
Another significant posting was to the Consulate General in Buffalo, New York, where he served as consul at Canada’s largest migration office.
Over the years, Fankhauser consolidated his position as a well-respected Foreign Service officer serving as first secretary and consul at the High Commission of Canada to Pakistan,
and as counselor and as consul at the Embassy of Canada to Ecuador, where he was thrust into a crisis management role following a 7.9 magnitude earthquake, that struck that country.
Also in Guyana where he served as counselor and consul at the High Commission, he coordinated the successful evacuation of over 1,000 Canadian citizens from Guyana in 2020 during the COVID crisis and in the midst of some political unrest.
Competent in six languages, English, French, Swiss German, German, Spanish, and Portuguese, Fankhauser credits growing up in a household with a Trinidadian mother and a father who is Swiss made it easy for him to learn three of those languages during his childhood, later learning the other three as an adult.
They served him well in his duties in the Foreign Service allowing him to engage with locals that in a way few are privy to. He says learning the language of the people helped him to become a more effective in his duties.
Adding that being young of mixed-race helped him navigate the world easier, especially working in countries like Brazil, Guyana, and Pakistan.
“The fact that I’m a minority gives me an advantage in countries that I resemble a lot more of the local population. In terms of blending in and keeping a low profile, also being perceived as young gives you access to certain groups or ideas that people wouldn’t normally give you access to.”
Fankhauser says the typical diplomat tends to forget to connect with those whom they’re serving, especially culturally.
“It’s a priceless advantage I have to say. What it does is it allows less defensive interactions with people. You’re able to play with expectations,” he says.
“Coming from a background that’s diverse gives you front row access to the issues that you see. Even if you’re not familiar with a country, you have a degree of sensitivity to the issues.”
Last year, he decided to step away from diplomatic services after two decades and for the first time in his adult life, the nature of his job allows him independence working in the private sector.
Looking back, the father of two says he hopes his children will understand and value the opportunities they had growing up in an international environment with certain privileges.
“Having that worldwide view from a young age drives a certain attitude for life that would be harder to come by if you just stay in a local community.”
Today, Fankhauser works independently as a global strategist, and holds himself available to assist those who are invested in minority (global majority) communities and interests.
His contact info: email@example.com