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Navigating the foreign service with


Ambassador Rattray at a Conference


mbassador Courtenay Rattray was undoubtedly born for

He was employed by the newly-created JAMPRO on

public service. During a recent interview with FORTRESS,

his return to Jamaica, and shortly thereafter dispatched to the

he proudly stated that he comes from a long line of public servants:

Jamaica Trade Commission in London. This was soon followed

his father being the chartered surveyor, Alvin Rattray and his

by an appointment as executive director of the Jamaica Marketing

mother, the late public health nurse, June Claire Rattray, for whom

Company Limited in London. He served in that capacity for over

a building at the National Family Planning Board is named. She was also instrumental in the famous “Two is better than too many” family planning campaign of the 1970s. It also seems that Courtenay was destined to be a global citizen from birth. He was born in London, England while his parents were studying there, then at the tender age of one, the family returned to Jamaica. At age seven, he would again leave Jamaica for Tel Aviv, Israel because his father had been awarded a scholarship to study there, and so the family, which included four young children and one on the way, headed to Israel. While there, he learned to speak Hebrew, but admits that he can no longer speak the language as he is out of practice. He strongly believes that his early life influenced his foray into the Foreign Service. On returning to Jamaica, he continued his education at Williams Preparatory, Excelsior High and Wolmer’s Boys Schools (sixth form). After leaving Wolmer’s, he got a job at the Jamaica National Export Corporation, which subsequently gave rise to JAMPRO, and after a few years of working there and at other


seven years, from 1990–1997. He then began to feel homesick, and returned home – jobless. However his jobless status did not last long, as soon after returning to Jamaica, then Minister of Industry, Dr. Paul Robertson, asked him to be his special advisor. When Dr. Robertson was transferred to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade in 2000, he took Rattray with him. He was subsequently encouraged by the permanent secretary in that Ministry to apply to become a staff member, which he did.

OVERSEAS POSTINGS When asked about his favourite overseas posting, Ambassador Rattray indicated a preference for Washington DC, where between 2001 and 2005, he served as Deputy Chief of Mission at the Jamaican Embassy. One of the things he loved about this city was the fact that Jamaican food was readily available and there were also several Jamaican clubs.

local organisations, he decided to pursue a four-year Bachelor of

His next overseas assignment for the Foreign Service

Arts degree in International Studies at the West Virginia Wesleyan

would take him to the Far East. In 2008, he was appointed

College in the USA, which was an important learning and maturing

Jamaica's Ambassador to China. He describes that appointment

experience for him.

as a wonderful experience and a privilege. While there, he ➜

• ISSUE 3 | SPRING 2016 | Join the FORTRESS community >>

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Fortress magazine spring2016  

The spring offering ft. World Champion Alia Atkinson. Discover irie insights about her journey to Rio 2016 and more.

Fortress magazine spring2016  

The spring offering ft. World Champion Alia Atkinson. Discover irie insights about her journey to Rio 2016 and more.