Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Havana

Lesley Saunderson


Lesley joined the Diplomatic Service in 1991.  Her first job in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was in the “Know How Fund” managing UK technical assistance to the countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union when they were liberalising markets and moving towards pluralist, democratic societies.  Her overseas postings have been in New Delhi, St Petersburg, Dar es Salaam, and Phnom Penh (Deputy Head of Mission, 2009-2013).

Lesley was seconded to the Department for International Development (DFID) when in Dar es Salaam.  She managed the UK programme supporting the Tanzanian government reforms in the civil service and the national programme of decentralisation and capacity building of local governments.  This experience prompted a career break to do a Masters degree in Public Policy and Management with the School of Oriental and African Studies and work outside the Diplomatic Service.  She was appointed by the Tanzanian Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government) as their Governance Adviser on the decentralisation programme for 2 years (2006-2008).

Lesley’s last job was in the FCO as Assistant Private Secretary to the Foreign Secretary (2013-2015).  She accompanied the Foreign Secretary on visits to Sri Lanka, India, Bahrain, Germany and Nigeria. Lesley arrived in Havana in May 2016 with her partner Brendan O’Driscoll.  You will find them on the golf course most weekends.

Deputy Head of Mission, British Embassy Havana

The Deputy Head of Mission is a senior diplomat and typically a key advisor to the Ambassador or High Commissioner. The Deputy is responsible for the daily management of an overseas Embassy or High Commission. They will represent the UK’s interests in the absence of the Ambassador as Chargé d’Affaires. A senior ranking Deputy may also take the title Minister. Smaller missions may not have a Deputy Head.