Cablegate: Mentoring: The Guangzhou Way

DE RUEHGZ #0897/01 2210846
R 090846Z AUG 07




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Mentoring: The Guangzhou Way

1. (U) Summary: Nearly all 25 Entry Level Professionals at Congen
Guangzhou serve in the consular section but the intent of management
- and the desire of the ELPs - is to provide a varied experience,
with mentoring integrated into every aspect of work. The Congen,
mostly through a dynamic ELP working group and its interaction with
senior management, has come up with a strong rotation program,
within and without the consular section, conversations with/direct
access to the CG via monthly meetings and participation in trips and
events at the CGR, a DVC program with senior leadership in the
Department and at missions abroad, and a thoroughgoing commitment to
participate in Public Affairs programs to achieve the Secretary's
vision of transformational diplomacy. In the process, ELPs have
gained considerable experience in managing their own affairs while
learning just how varied and demanding the work of the Foreign
Service is. Delegating authority to junior level officers, while
initially a necessity given the small number of mid and senior level
officers in Guangzhou, has now become an ethos of the Guangzhou ELP
experience. This cable reports the findings of an ELP committee
about the success of current mentoring in Guangzhou and offers
additional recommendations for improving how we accomplish our
training objectives. End Summary.

Mentoring Starts in the Consular Section

2. (U) The rotation program at Congen Guangzhou begins in the
consular section. Unlike in other parts of the China mission, which
do not do immigration work (for historic reasons, all IVs are done
here in the South), ELPs work in both the Immigrant and
Non-Immigrant visa sections, either ACS or FPU, and spend one month
in an office of their choice outside the consular section. Rotating
into different sections within and without the consular section
allows officers to learn about the full range of consular
operations; the one month "out rotation" to a non-Consular section
gives officers a feel for the work they may be doing on future
assignments. Consular officers also rotate out in recognition that
the Foreign Service wants them to develop broad skills that will
allow them to manage mission-wide, not just consular-wide. An
important benefit of the rotations is that Entry Level Professionals
get to work closely with almost every mid and senior level officer
at the Consulate. These interactions create opportunities for
one-on-one mentoring. The rotation program is further augmented by
an ELP Exchange Program, which allows ELPs in the Consular Section
to exchange posts for two weeks with Consular ELPs elsewhere in

3. (U) The management of the rotation schedule is in and of itself
a mentoring experience. ELPs create and manage the schedule, and
then work with management to ensure it meets Post's needs.
Delegating the day-to-day management of the schedule, gives ELPs
valuable insight into the management challenges of staffing a large
and busy consulate which is the size of France and has a population
of over 220 million people. They witness first hand the constant
balancing act between prioritizing high quality service to American
citizens and our applicants, while creating a variety of
professional experiences for Entry Level Officers.

The Role of the Consul General

4. (U) Direct access to the CG is another valuable cornerstone of
the mentoring in Guangzhou. In addition to the monthly All-Hands
Meeting, ELPs have a separate meeting with the CG to discuss issues
of interest and concern which they suggest. ELPs use this meeting
to ask about what is happening in our Consular district, the China
Mission and Washington. Topics range from the high-level policy
issues and career development to very specific advice, such as how
to answer questions regarding Iraq (very carefully and in line with
Department-provided guidance). These meetings play a valuable role
in connecting ELPs to the events and shifts beyond the visa line.

DVCs with Senior Managers

5. (U) One very successful result of these monthly meetings has
been the development of a DVC program whereby the CG invites senior
leaders in the Department or at other missions to participate in
DVCs with ELPs. Participants have included Ambassador B. Lynn
Pascoe, now the UN Under Secretary General for Political Affairs,
Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific
Affairs Tom Christensen, and former Executive Director of EAP/EX
Llewellyn Hedgbeth. The ELP Committee and the CG have also
scheduled Beijing DCM Piccuta for a DVC in September.

Come to Dinner and Be Prepared to Talk

6. (U) In addition to these scheduled meetings, the CG often
invites ELPs to dinners when senior level officials from Washington
come to town. These gatherings provide ELPs access otherwise not
available to them, about the priorities and challenges of decision
makers in Washington. In addition, for the past 5 years, CGs in

GUANGZHOU 00000897 002 OF 002

Guangzhou have invited ELPs to travel with them. These trips serve
as a welcome break from a hectic visa line, and provide ELPs
reporting opportunities as well as a chance to see what is happening
beyond Guangzhou. For non-Consular-coned officers serving on a
two-year Consular tour, these trips also serve as valuable lessons
in trade craft for future posts.

Public Diplomacy and Transformation Diplomacy:
The Keys to a Successful Career
--------------------------------------------- -

7. (U) Guangzhou ELPs are active participants in the Public Affairs
programs at post. This involvement not only allows PAS to run a
robust program with a small staff, but it also allows ELPs
opportunities to practice their public speaking skills, interact
with students, and get a clearer idea of Chinese perceptions of the
U.S. ELPs participate in the PAS's Weekly Forums on topics ranging
from Blues and Jazz, to famous American speeches, to American
architecture. They have also organized special events such as a
Mock Court, U.S. Congressional election commentary and an Oscar
Night. ELPs routinely judge English competitions at local
universities and speak to students in our Consular district about
student visas. And they get to suggest new programs for PAS

ELPs as Mentors

8. (U) Even though most Guangzhou ELPs are on their first tour, ELPs
mentor Locally Engaged Staff, their peers and, at times, given the
skills they have brought into the Foreign Service, even management.
These opportunities are embedded in the functions ELPs play as team
leaders for LES teams and as portfolio leaders. Even though some
ELPs have prior management experience, leading and mentoring an LES
team provides invaluable lessons on management in a multicultural
environment. Peer mentoring and mentoring up take various forms,
one salient example being a team-building exercise to be held this
fall working on a Habitat for Humanity project in Guangdong to
rebuild houses destroyed by flooding. The project was organized by
an ELP who secured partial funding from the J. Kirby Simon Fund and
is working with other ELPs and management to raise the rest of the

Portfolio Work Give ELPs Opportunities to Lead New Initiatives
--------------------------------------------- -----

9. (U) Managing a portfolio - such as AmCham, Chinese Language
training for Officers, or education - in addition to interviewing
also allows ELPs to propose to management improvements in the way
things are done. For example, ELPs have suggested establishing an
Amcham-type referral program for employees of key Chinese
enterprises in the region, developed a robust Post language program
complete with weekend immersion trips, and created an innovative
software tool to help streamline the revocation writing process.

What's Next?

10. (U) Despite the various mentoring opportunities that already
exist at post, ELPs have still voiced an interest in creating an
even more structured mentoring program. One idea is to develop a
mentoring group, consisting of mid and senior level officers who
volunteer to meet with ELPs once every couple of months. Topics of
discussion will include the work in which the mentors are currently
engaged, advice on bidding, trade craft skills such as reporting,
and how to balance family and work in the Foreign Service.


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