First, a Chevening Scholarship. Next, a government minister

Bernardo Ivo-Cruz undertook his Chevening Scholarship in 2001 at the University of Bristol. Now, in 2022, he has just been appointed Secretary of State for Internationalisation at the Portuguese Foreign Ministry. We interview him to find out how he did it.

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Thanks for agreeing to share your story with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born and live in Portugal. After my Chevening Scholarship in 2001, I went on to study again at the University of Bristol in 2007, where I received my PhD. I studied European Politics, with a focus on comparative models of democracy.

After finishing my PhD, I worked across various sectors but with one common theme: comparative public policies that contribute to economic growth, social development and environmental sustainability.


You undertook your Chevening Scholarship in 2001. Do you remember what it was like when you received it?

I remember that when I was thinking of applying, I had convinced myself that I was not good enough to qualify for such a prestigious scholarship. But when I received support from both the British Council and the British Embassy in Lisbon, my confidence was raised. In the end, I was successful. The lesson learned was clear: you need to try!


In the years since your studies, you have gone from success to success. Did Chevening live up to your expectations?

As I see it, my career can be clearly split into two parts – before Chevening, and after Chevening. After Chevening and my PhD was when doors started to open and opportunities came to me. It was obvious that businesses and organisations in both the UK and Portugal recognised the excellence of the Chevening Scholarship and an education at a UK institution such as the University of Bristol.


As an alumnus you’ve been heavily involved with the Chevening Alumni network in Europe. What have been the positives of being part of that community?

We all had the opportunity to study in some of the best universities in the world, and did so with the support of a very demanding and competitive scholarship. Regardless of where we were or where we ended up, where we were born or what we did professionally, as Chevening Alumni we had this experience in common. That shared experience has been important to fostering a collaborative approach to issues and challenges across Europe.


Is there any advice or a message you’d like to give to other alumni?

The main thing is that you should try to do what inspires you, and in doing that, give something back to the community. We are among the lucky few who were selected to study at the highest international level. Not everyone has the same opportunity, and we should share what we have.


Lastly, congratulations on your recent appointment as Secretary of State for Internationalisation in Portugal. Is there anything you can tell us about things you hope to work on?

One thing that has been set out in the UN Sustainable Development Goals is that businesses and corporations have a key role to play in fostering and promoting that sustainable development. In short, that is my goal. I want to contribute to cooperation between international organisations, civil society organisations, businesses and corporations in promoting sustainable development for us all.

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