In my prior post, I was recapping a February trip with my family to Melbourne and Tasmania. I’ll pick up where I left off on that very soon, but first wanted to share a little career-related news from down under.
I was elated in February to see the notification that I had received tenure! Two days before my mom’s visit, and my email quickly started to explode. I spent more than an hour writing congratulatory notes to everyone I knew on the list – dozens in all.
All Foreign Service Officers undergo annual consideration for tenure beginning 36 months after they are hired, and must receive tenure by their third ‘look.’ If they don’t, their employment is terminated. So although more senior FSOs swear up and down they did not get tenured until their second (or even third!) try, and tell you not to worry, the decision is based solely on annual written performance reviews. Awards, reputation, input from your boss or colleagues – nothing else is considered, so it does keep many awake at night wondering if they should start looking for a new job – especially if their reviews were lukewarm, poorly written, or if they spent a lot of time in training and had fewer evaluations for the tenure board to consider.
I was not totally surprised to see the tenure announcement cable, (a) because I was aware of the expected timeframe of the announcement and (b) I had already received an automated notification of an updated personnel action to my employee profile. I logged in thinking, What the heck is this? only to see the reason: Change in Tenure Group. Hooray!
I was so relieved to get it that I did not mind the surprise being “spoiled.” I did have to roll my eyes for a second that the personnel action effective date was in December, one business day before the shutdown. No wonder it took me some time to find out. No matter – the Department wants to keep me around, and the feeling is mutual!
And then late last week, I received my TMFOUR cable. In other words… my orders to depart Australia in August, go on home leave, spend nine months in training stateside, and then PCS to Mexico by car next year in May.
Orders. Love ’em or hate ’em, they always come. I was impressed they came so early; I had only sent my TMTWO (request for proposed orders) the first week of February. Looks like I have some arrangements to make… Every time I think about our upcoming PCS and saying goodbye to Australia I’m kind of like:
And finally, after more than two years with a Chargé d’Affaires standing in place of an ambassador, this week Mission Australia received its new U.S. Ambassador to the Commonwealth of Australia, Arthur B. Culvahouse.
The Life (Diplomatic) Goes On!
Here is a picture of V and I from two weeks ago, enjoying a gala dinner at Australian Parliament House in honor of the Australian-American Fulbright Commission’s 70th anniversary.
As the commission awarded its biggest ever cohort of scholars, we had an opportunity to see an esteemed member of Australia’s first cohort, which commenced in 1950, and also to hear from keynote speaker, NASA astronaut, and USAF Col. Pamela Melroy (Ret.), who highlighted the importance of the U.S.-Australia bilateral relationship, and of understanding that on planet Earth, we’re all crew.
A busy and forward-looking period here at Post.