BACKSTORY: UK trade commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith
We question UK trade commissioner for Africa Emma Wade-Smith
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
I’m a sucker for all the Marvel heroes, with a particular soft spot for Iron Man. That’s probably got everything to do with being a Robert Downey jnr fan.
Which phrase or word do you most overuse?
"We’ll make a plan", to respond to all the things that change so regularly and quickly. My mother-in-law first spotted my liberal use of this phrase and now my extended family all use it too.
Your top tip for doing a deal?
Take time to understand what’s driving the other party — what are their motivations and pressures for doing a deal and how can both parties benefit and advance their interests.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would love to sing well. I love karaoke but I’m not very good; I have a very quiet singing voice.
What was your first job?
I had a Saturday job at a newsagent in my local town; I couldn’t wait to start work and earn my own money.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
From my travels so far it has to be Addis Ababa, so I’m pleased they’re working on upgrading it (with help from UK companies).
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
I know this is supposed to be a money question, but I wish I had invested more in my tertiary education.
When and where were you happiest?
My wedding day — October 11 2014 (to prove I can remember that date!) in the gorgeous grounds of Athelhampton House in Dorset, England. It was a blissful day surrounded by family and friends. I had travelled extensively throughout my career, and it was a rare moment to have everyone I love together in the same place.
What do you regard as the depth of misery?
Potholing — I can’t bear the idea of crawling through dark, tight tunnels underground.
On what occasion do you lie?
I try not to; I’m a terrible liar. But I have used a little white lie in the past to wriggle out of a social occasion because I need to recharge my batteries. Now I just tell people straight up; I’m a natural introvert living a very extrovert life, so sometimes I just need time on my own.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Righteousness — too often I’ve seen this used to excess to exclude and shame people rather than embrace all that unites us and makes us special.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
I’ve just finished reading Factfulness by Hans Rosling, which highlights how most decisionmakers and policymakers have a skewed and negative vision of the world. Essential reading, I’d say, for everyone and particularly those making investment choices. It says (rightly) that Africa is the market of the future and smart investors should invest here.