Area Director East China, British Council | Consul (Cultural and Education), British Consulate-General in Shanghai
Matt Knowles has 14 years of expertise in international cultural and educational exchanges. He took up his post as the East China Area Director of the British Council in August 2015 and is accompanied by his wife and two young children.
Matt comes to Shanghai from London where he was British Council’s Regional Head for East Asia, EU Europe, Wider Europe and the Americas. This entailed supporting teams in 70 countries and helping to shape the organisation’s strategy.
After his university studies in Edinburgh and a year-long scholarship to the USA, Matt began his career as Policy Officer in the Scottish Government’s Education Department. Here he developed a national website for parents to share information about the Scottish education system and drafted advice for local authorities on home education.
On joining the British Council in Edinburgh, Matt managed an initiative by which talented international postgraduates in business studies could share their expertise with small and medium-sized enterprises. From there Matt moved to Berlin, to facilitate the change in the British Council’s operation there, and then to Italy, as Director of Programmes managing the flagship Pontignano conference for Italian and British ministers and policy makers.
Matt next took up a five-year posting in Dhaka, Bangladesh, where he developed programmes and partnerships which drew on UK experience to support the Government of Bangladesh and international donor priorities. These included promoting education reform (notably Climate Change education), helping build a civil society (a Bangladesh Youth Parliament) and encouraging community involvement by young people. Matt also assisted with building the cultural connections between Bangladesh and the UK (for example, bringing the Hay Festival to Dhaka).
Matt holds Masters Degrees in Theology from the University of Edinburgh and from Union Theological Seminary (Columbia University’s constituent Faculty of Theology). He was the bass player for Bangladesh’s only funk band and once met the late great godfather, James Brown.