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Join us for this fascinating talk with the UK's former Ambassador to Russia and Afghanistan

About this event

Event description:

In conversation with Sir Laurie Bristow, we will explore what diplomats do in a crisis: how they see a crisis coming, what they can do to prepare for it, what actually happens in a big crisis, and how to lead people and organisations in such scenarios. Drawing on specific examples from his career, Sir Laurie will explore how organisational culture can support success or contribute to failure. Furthermore, he will unpack the role of political and personal accountability when dealing with difficult, often sensitive issues, as well as with groupthink and other cognitive biases – and what you can do to counter these. Sir Laurie will also explore how diplomats work with the military, security and intelligence agencies, and the wider society. During the discussion, Sir Laurie will draw on experiences from his decades-long career in the civil service government – including his time as Britain’s ambassador to Russia as well as HMG’s last ambassador in Afghanistan. His account of the dramatic August 2021 events leading up to the fall of Kabul and Western withdrawal from Afghanistan, 'Kabul: Final Call', will be published in March 2024.

Speaker biography:

Sir Laurie Bristow was the UK’s last Ambassador to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. He was in Kabul in August 2021 during the Taliban takeover and the evacuation. Before that he was Ambassador to Russia and has worked extensively on Russia and the wider region over many years. He was the UK Foreign Office Director for National Security in 2012-2015, advising the Foreign Secretary on oversight of the UK’s intelligence agencies, counter terrorism work and cyber policy. He joined the Foreign Office in 1990 and left in 2022. He is now President of Hughes Hall, one of the larger colleges of Cambridge University. He writes and broadcasts regularly on Russia, Afghanistan, and geopolitics.