There is a little part of CBS International that is forever African: Mr Pankaj Pathak’s office.
Mr Pathak is the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Botswana in WA, which means Curtin University is the first campus in Western Australia to have a consulate.
The consulate was officially launched this week as part of the celebrations of Botswana’s 47th year of independence. It moved onto campus in July this year from Leederville where it had been since opening in 2009. Mr Pathak has been the Honorary Consul for the last five years.
He was born in Zambia, grew up in Botswana and moved to Perth in 2001. In 2011, he was a recipient of the WA Business News Top 40 Under 40 Award. He was approached by the Botswana High Commission in Canberra to take on the role of Honorary Consul, having been involved in the Batswana community in Perth and working with the previous consul. It was a natural progression for him having worked within the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and English Language Intensive Courses for Overseas Students (ELICOS).
“The good thing about being located on campus is that you do need the strong support of an employer who invests resources into the consulate such as office space and one that understands that if there is an emergency in the community, that takes priority,” he says.
It works out for Curtin as well. It makes it easier for the entire community to have a consulate on campus. There are 62 Batswana students currently enrolled at Curtin and studying courses in engineering, architecture, science and commerce.
Not only can Mr Pathak handle visa and passport issues for these students, he can help create partnerships between Batswana individuals and companies and Curtin academics, researchers and industry partners. Curtin’s Western Australian School of Mines is one such partner that already has a long history with Botswana. Many graduates work or have worked in mining companies that are involved in the diamond mining trade in Botswana.
“We are the number one producer of diamonds in terms of value,” he says. “But we also need to diversify. We have eco-tourism because we have the Okavango Delta but we want to do more with agriculture and land management and we want to improve our educational ties with Curtin and Australia.”
In addition to his usual duties, he’s doing more for the Batswana community by helping to set up the Botswana-Australia Association. He’s realistic about the amount of work it requires to be an Honorary Consul.
“It’s a 24 hour service,” he says. “People make appointments during business hours but if there is an emergency, then I have to be available. If a diplomat falls sick or if a citizen has a death in the family, I need to know.”
As it starts to sink in about how much he actually does have to do, he cracks a joke: “I need a bigger office.”
You can contact Mr Pankaj Pathak during business hours for an appointment by email at Pathak.firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0410 408 370. You can also find more information on the services provided by the Consulate of the Republic of Botswana in WA on the official website.