YEREVAN. – Arianne Bo Caoili, international chess master and wife of famous Armenian chess player Levon Aronian, has been appointed an adviser to the Armenian Prime Minister Karen Karapetyan. In an interview with Armenian News-NEWS.am Arianne Caoili told about her new job and commented on some media reports following her appointment.
What is the reason for change from chess to political career? According to official statement from government’s office, you will be engaged in providing recommendations for attracting investments, as well as cooperation with the international agencies dealing with finances and trade. What will be the focus of your work?
From my perspective, it is not a big change, because I quit chess long ago. I played when I was a child, but I quit it when I was about 15-16. I guess the change that we are seeing is more that I am working with the government. My background has always been consulting to the private sector and public sector. Now I am in public sector, but as a volunteer, I will do my best to contribute to Armenia’s development. I do not consider my job has to do with the politics, I am not interested in politics. There is a big difference between public policy and politics. The focus I am interested in is strictly the areas of economy that are the drivers of economy: innovation, education and investments. One clear area where I hope to do my best is Armenia’s commercial relations internationally as well as the relations with the Diaspora. There is a huge potential in Diaspora and we have to use it.
You have an experience of working as a consultant to the state agencies in Australia. Will you work with the companies and agencies in Australia and Asia-Pacific region? Do you think Armenia can attract investments from this region?
Armenia is a bit far away, but my background is not strictly confined to Australia or Asia, it is much more with sovereign wealth funds owned by governments all over the globe. I have a few platforms and institutions that I would like connect with Armenia. The world is getting smaller and we, as Armenians, need to look to the future and to have a global mentality, but of course with localized spirit.
You said, we as Armenians. Do you perceive yourself as an Armenian now?
I’ve been asked this question for many years. And, my answer is: yes. When I moved here in 2013, I immediately felt at home. I traveled to 60 countries and lived in Germany, Australia and the Philippines. When I moved to Armenia, it was the first time in my life that I felt at home. Then I got married and I am “technically” also going to be Armenian. And, I am very proud of that.
Some media reports suggest you have several businesses in Armenia. Is it true? What is the main area of your work?
I am volunteering for this job [in government’s office – ed.]. I am very open about what I do in Armenia. Yes, I am doing business. My consulting firm, although it is not strictly for Armenians and it has foreign clients mostly, is very much involved in management consulting, strategy and policy analysis. And, of course, I have “Champord” (“Traveler” newspaper) which is not for profit. My passion is economics.
You seem not to play chess at a professional level since 2012. Why did you quit chess after a successful career?
I quit just before the university. All of my family are doctors in the United States. They are all neurosurgeons, heart surgeons. So, my father told me I had to stop chess and study medicine. It was a clear decision from my parents: “you have to study now.”
Armenia is now pushing an idea that if you start playing chess at an early age, you would help in the future. How do you think chess can help you in your new endeavor?
I am very proud of the fact that Armenia was the first country in the world to make chess compulsory. I do think that if you start chess at a young age, it will really help you in problem solving. It teaches you that mistakes are ok. It is ok to make mistakes and to lose as long as you get up and fight again. It gives people a fighting spirit, and it is very important in life and in business. I think chess is good for character.
Are you surprised at media interest to your appointment? What is your attitude?
I just hope that I can do my best and use the skills that I have to contribute. My measure of success is impact. If I can create a positive impact, no matter how small, I will be happy. I hope that public will view my participation positively. I will be giving an online press conference on Tuesday and everyone can ask questions. I am free to answer them.