National Protocol Officer Week - Graduate Profile: Desmond Alufohai

PSOW Staff - Saturday, March 28, 2020
PSOW Graduate Spotlight Desmond Linkedin

What makes a Protocol Officer the Most Valuable Player on a team? Could you share a “real life” example?

Protocol Officers are MVPs. As the lead staff trade specialist for Miami-Dade County’s Business Development Missions to Africa and Asia, I conducted advance site (pre-mission) visits to the designated cities for our missions. These pre-mission visits were typically concluded 3-4 months prior to the commencement of the mission. The purpose of a pre-mission visit is to familiarize yourself with the meeting venues, facilities, foreign partners, stakeholders, and service providers. During the visit, the trade specialist, who also performs protocol duties, conducts arrangements for the delegates’ itinerary, program, budget, lodging, ground transportation, etc. Based on years of experience, I always visited shopping malls, restaurants, etc., near to the delegates’ hotel. I also asked my host about the nearest bathrooms in the offices that the delegation were scheduled to visit. My hosts were always surprised by the “bathroom” question.

With my findings, I was now equipped to provide relevant information and answer any question from my delegation prior to visiting the foreign city, perhaps for the very first time. When a mission participant’s luggage does not arrive with them on the mission, they will rely on the protocol officer to show them the nearest mall to get new clothes until the airline delivers their lost luggage. And when a participant uses the restroom in an office building, they are equipped with hand sanitizers and disinfectants because nothing was taken for granted.    

How would you define a Protocol Officer and why? Protocol officers are the "puppet masters” of any event: never seen, but they are the architects of the show! They are involved in all aspects of the show: pre-event, during and post-event. They are speechwriters; event planners; negotiators; they meet, greet, and escort personnel: whatever is needed to execute a flawless event.

What is your most valuable protocol tool or resource? The Protocol School of Washington, and Protocol and Diplomacy International – Protocol Officers Association (PDI-POA).

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