This blog post was published under the 2015 to 2024 Conservative government

Richard Welham

HM Revenue & Customs Western Balkans Regional Training Coordinator

Guest blogger for UK in North Macedonia

Part of UK in North Macedonia

20th April 2022 Skopje, North Macedonia

Celebrating Western Balkans Regional cooperation and diversity at high profile UK Events

The British Embassy Skopje based Conflict Stability & Security Funded (CSSF) HMRC Western Balkans Training Team have enjoyed a successful (if hectic) start to their 2022 programme of events. The team, supported in no small part by respective Fiscal Crime Liaison Officers (FCLOs) and Country Based Staff throughout the region have worked extremely hard to make this happen, and we are delighted to have received support from the CSSF, HMRC Counter Fraud Academy, College of Policing, The Dods Group, FCDO and respective embassies.

International Leadership Event: College Of Policing UK

February saw the team (through the CSSF) sponsor the attendance of an Albanian Customs Officer at the highly regarded International Leadership Event, hosted by the College of Policing in the UK and attended by delegates from The Maldives, Oman and Albania.

Ada Lani from the Albanian Customs Service was selected to attend via a comprehensive sift process from across the Western Balkan Administrations and enjoyed an intensive four-week programme of events including Organisational Leadership, Change and Strategy, Legitimacy, Consent and UK Policing, a visit to the Metropolitan Police Museum and an audience with current Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick. The event was completed at The College of Policing HQ at Harperley Hall in Durham with a presentation evening.

As part of the event Ada also met with representatives from HMRC and was treated to a visit to the RAF Club in London.

Women Into Leadership Conference Birmingham NEC

In March we welcomed six representatives from across the Western Balkans Region to the prestigious Women Into Leadership Conference at the Birmingham NEC.
Organised in the week immediately after International Women’s Day, the conference was hosted by the Dods Group (An intelligence, media and events specialist).

This event saw over 400 delegates from across the public sector and beyond attend the one-day event where they received presentations from a diverse range of inspirational female speakers and took part in practical and group sessions throughout the day to enhance their leadership styles and credentials, develop their career and networking opportunities in a supportive environment. Our delegates also featured heavily on the “WIL22” promotional video on YouTube and Twitter.

We were really pleased our delegates got to meet HMRC’s Director General for Customer Services Myrtle Lloyd prior to the event and we are very grateful that Myrtle took the time before her keynote speech on compassionate leadership to meet with our delegates and discuss what they hoped to take away from this experience.

Our Training Assistant and Country Based Staff Iva Simonovska from British Embassy Skopje was joined by colleagues from across the Western Balkan Region:

  • Sandra Denkovic Jaksic from Customs in Belgrade
  • Kristina Jozic from The State Investigation and Protection Agency in Sarajevo
  • Tijana Madzgalj from the Police Directorate in Podgorica
  • Jelena Georgievska from The Financial Police in Skopje
  • Zijavere Keqmezi Rexhepi from The Customs and Excise Sector Prishtina
  • Albina Pajenga from Customs in Tirana

Our delegates also participated in a course closure and feedback event hosted by the Western Balkans Training Team where representatives from our Senior Leadership Team and FCLO Desk presented details of what the FCLO Network does and how it can assist our Stakeholders in the region. They also shared some personal experiences from their respective careers within our department.

It provided some thought-provoking examples of how being role-models for diversity, equality and inclusion irrespective of gender or bias are critical as we continue to develop relationships across administrations both in the UK and with our overseas partners.

The feedback from the delegates has been very positive and comprehensive, which reflects how well received this event has been and is an example of how HMRC and FCDO are working together to promote gender equality internationally. They are already discussing how this group, on the back of the success of this experience can continue to gather momentum and provide additional training or workshops throughout 2022-23.

April sees us continue with planned Financial Investigation Training in North Macedonia and Fiscal Crime Training in Serbia, together with other areas of opportunity across the Western Balkans Region for 2022 training events.

A successful start to 2022 and a huge thanks to everyone involved.

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