Apprentice's Questionnaire—Lew Lukens

  1. What inspired or motivated you to become a diplomat?
    I grew up as a FS brat, and always loved the idea of moving and learning about new countries and cultures every few years, all in the name of public service.

  2. Who was your best boss and why?
    I had some great bosses – career and non-career. What they had in common was the practice of empowering and trusting their subordinates – a lesson that I took with me as I rose in the ranks.

  3. What would you tell your a-100 self?
    Be patient! There will be times in your career where you seem to be progressing slowly or the job seems to become too routine. Savor the moment because things always pick up and you’ll look back in 30 years and wonder where the time went.

  4. Describe a day you felt you made a difference.
    As S/ES-EX Director I flew Secretary Clinton into Haiti after the devastating earthquake in January 2010. We were able to take about 20 Haitian-Americans back to the US with us on the Air Force blue and white 757. The looks on their faces when they boarded and realized they were flying to the US with Hillary Clinton were priceless.

  5. What has a colleague done for you that made you wish all of us had a colleague like that?
    Too many examples.

  6. What was the mistake you learned the most from?
    As a mid-level officer I was assigned to an onward assignment overseas, then was recruited for a job back in DC. The person who recruited me said he would handle all the assignment/paneling pieces, but I found out years later that he never spoke with the losing bureau. I should have reached out to them directly. They were still angry years later.

  7. What was your best and worst experience working with the interagency?
    Best interagency experience – country team at every embassy where I have served. Worst – interagency meetings in DC.

  8. What is the one tour you would recommend FSOs consider?
    Any 7th floor tour, but especially in the Executive Secretariat. Those jobs pay dividends for year, in contacts and in knowing how the building works.

  9. If the state department had a mascot, what animal should it be?
    A dog. Obviously.

  10. What was the biggest challenge of FS life for your family, and how did you manage it?
    Uprooting a 14 year old after three very happy years in a great school. Hard to explain and tough emotionally to adjust. Not sure I did manage it well.

  11. What is your leadership philosophy?
    See #2 – trust and empower those around you. The FS really is the best and brightest. No point in surrounding yourself with great people if you aren’t going to let them do their jobs without micromanaging or second-guessing.

  12. What tips would you give a first-time manager?
    See #11. Though for first time managers, trust but verify.

  13. What would you change about the State Department?
    The usual – less red tape, more flexibility.

  14. What were your pet peeves?
    See #13 – too much bureaucracy, not nimble enough. 


Apprentice's Questionnaire—Cameron Munter

  1. What inspired or motivated you to become a diplomat?
    The prospect of unemployment

  2. Who was your best boss and why?
    A creative and iconoclastic political appointee who ran an office dedicated to interfering in the internal affairs of the United States (the NATO Enlargement Ratification Office, or NERO).  He questioned everything and made me do the same.

  3. What would you tell your a-100 self?
    Eat dessert first: pursue assignments you want and you'll perform better than if you take assignments you don't want, even if they're "career enhancing."

  4. Describe a day you felt you made a difference.
    The day I killed Bin Laden.  Or at least, I got to watch.  Does that count?

  5. What has a colleague done for you that made you wish all of us had a colleague like that?
    My RSO stuck with me in Belgrade as the mob burned my embassy.

  6. What was the mistake you learned the most from?
    Early in my career I agreed, under duress, to take training rather than attend an important family event.  I swore I'd never do that again.  I never did.

  7. What was your best and worst experience working with the interagency?
    Best: coordinating with brilliant colleagues across Washington while at the NSC.  worst: getting up at 4am in Islamabad to take part in principals committee meetings by SVTC.

  8. What is the one tour you would recommend FSOs consider?
    Be a regional bureau staffer early in your career so you know how things work, then never return to the Department if you can help it.

  9. If the state department had a mascot, what animal should it be?
    A snake, but not a particularly poisonous one.  

  10. What was the biggest challenge of FS life for your family, and how did you manage it?
    My daughter was very ill at age one and it cost my wife her career as a tandem to care for her (little sympathy from management in those days, but this may have changed).

  11. What is your leadership philosophy?
    If you can't make a funny limerick out of it, it's probably not worth doing.

  12. What tips would you give a first-time manager?
    Listen.  Also same advice for every other FSO in every other job.

  13. What would you change about the State Department?
    I'd relocate it back to Fraunce's Tavern in New York City.  

  14. What were your pet peeves?
    The pre-Colin-Powell travel voucher system.


Apprentice's Questionnaire

Leaders - Please send us your answers to these questions, either Vanity Fair style (eg 1-2 sentences max per answer) or 25YA style (eg 300-500 word answers to a single question).

We want to hear from you and know our readers do too!

1. What inspired or motivated you to become a diplomat?
2. Who was your best boss and why?
3. What would you tell your a-100 self?
4. Describe a day you felt you made a difference.
5. What has a colleague done for you that made you wish all of us had a colleague like that?
6. What was the mistake you learned the most from?
7. What was your best and worst experience working with the interagency?
8. What is the one tour you would recommend FSOs consider?
9. If the state department had a mascot, what animal should it be?
10. What was the biggest challenge of FS life for your family, and how did you manage it?
11. What is your leadership philosophy?
12. What tips would you give a first-time manager?
13. What would you change about the State Department?
14. What were your pet peeves?