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Sharon Lennon

Consul General, Sao Paolo

My 2015 began with returning to Brazil to open the new Consulate General in São Paulo.  I was proud and excited to be nominated Consul General, but this was somewhat tempered by the reality of establishing a presence for Ireland in one of the largest and most complex cities in the world. Days quickly filled with the search for permanent office premises, establishing a strong working relationship with Enterprise Ireland, IDA and Education in Ireland and deepening our engagement with the Irish community.

Within six weeks of arriving we had organised a visit by the Minister for Education and delivered St. Patrick’s Day receptions and greenings in both São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Throughout the year the Consulate supported numerous cultural activities, two education trade missions, inward visits from the IDA and Enterprise Ireland and preparatory visits for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, while also progressing the set-up of ‘Ireland House’ in São Paulo.

The establishment phase for a new diplomatic mission is challenging, and the setbacks are as disappointing as the progress is satisfying. However I have seen the positive impact of our hard work – in supporting Irish companies in the local market, helping Irish higher education institutions and language schools to attract Brazilian students and developing contacts with state and municipal governments, think-tanks, NGOs and research foundations.