Meet some of the people who work at the British Council.
Simon Williams, Director
I joined the British Council in 1987, after studying Russian language and literature at Trinity College, University of Cambridge, including a semester at Voronezh State University in the USSR in 1985 . My first years were spent in the British Council’s project management departments in London and Manchester, working on education, public administration and civil society projects being delivered in Europe, Africa and the British Commonwealth.
I had the privilege to spend six years in Ukraine as Assistant Director with the British Council, from 1995 to 2001, and then three years in Russia, as Assistant Director of the British Council there, from 2004 to 2007.
In 2007, I was appointed Director of the UK Government’s National Agencies for Comenius, Erasmus and (from 2009) Youth in Action, the European Union’s flagship programmes to support international mobility and cooperation in education, training and youth cooperation. As part of my National Agency Director role, I participated in numerous European Commission Education and Culture working groups, eg to help shape the design of the new generation of mobility programmes funded under Erasmus+.
I was appointed Director of the British Council in Kazakhstan in 2012, supporting my team to establish education as a core area of UK-Kazakhstan collaboration, alongside other, more obviously commercial, sectors such as oil and gas.
I took up my current post in Ukraine in May 2015. I feel honoured and humbled to be back in Ukraine at such an important, if challenging, time. I strongly believe that international educational cooperation and cultural relations can make a vital contribution to Ukraine’s development and to its standing in the world, and am proud that the British Council can play a part in this process.
Natasha Vasylyuk, Deputy Director British Council Ukraine
I started my career in the British Council Ukraine in 1993 as a manager of the English language resource centre in Lviv, Western Ukraine. They were interesting years for my personal development from a teacher of English to a manager of an office for a big international company. I managed premises issues, acted as finance manager, worked as a librarian and in customer services, built relationships with local arts and culture communities, organised events and offered ‘meet and greet’ services to everyone who was coming our way from the UK.
Working for the British Council was and still is an exciting experience which has given me the opportunity to develop my skills in customer services and knowledge management, projects monitoring and evaluation, staff performance management and development, project pursuit and delivery, contracts and partnerships, networks management, managing finance in SAP and even risk management.
I have tried myself in a role of Acting Country Director Ukraine for eight months last year and at the moment as a Deputy Director with overall responsibility for our Education and Society work I am happy to lead a fantastic team of people who are creative, enthusiastic and are genuinely interested in sharing the best knowledge and expertise from the UK.
In my free time I like travelling with my friends and active sports like cycling, climbing mountains and swimming.
Christopher Holmes, Director Teaching Centre and Examinations
Chris grew up in sleepy Sussex, England. After completing his degree in Accounting and Finance in London, a longing to travel and meet people from other cultures (and avoid accountancy at all costs!) led to a teaching career that would take him to Japan, Thailand, Australia, Hungary, Bulgaria and now Ukraine.
He has worked as a Senior Teacher, Director of Studies, Teacher Trainer, Head of Teaching and is now very proud to be Director Teaching. Chris has a wife (Natasha) and daughter (Helena) who will accompany him to post.
Olena Manziuk, Head of Customer Services
I joined the British Council as the Customer Service Manager of the newly opened Kyiv teaching centre in September 2000. Since then the teaching centre operation has grown significantly and a new Integrated Customer Service team was created to provide centralised services to all customers of the British Council.
My role is to manage the customer service operation in the British Council Ukraine and ensure that the services provided to our customers are of the highest quality. My inspiration is to make our customers feel happy and valued. I seek new opportunities to keep improving our services and developing the business of the British Council.
In my free time my passion is spending time with my eight year old twins and our rabbit Maya as well as travelling, reading, roller-blading and running.
Yulia Samaichuk, Exams Services Manager
I joined the British Council in 2012 as a Customer Excellence Assistant and spent almost two years in a fantastic team providing the best customer experience to our external and internal clients. In 2014 I moved to another fantastic team – Exams. Together we deliver thousands of globally acknowledged exams – IELTS, Aptis, professional, university and school tests. In our work we are supported by a wonderful and experienced broad team of invigilators and examiners who come from variety of countries and cultural backgrounds.
I have always been interested in international exams and took quite a few of them myself. In my view, they help us develop new skills useful for studies and career – academic writing, reading, logic, time management. And most importantly they allow us to learn about culture and education in other countries and present new opportunities for development.