“I didn’t go to school until I was nine – it was too far away,” says Joslin as we sit down to chat in her beautiful conservatory overlooking the River Dart. “I had a pony instead!”
She has certainly come a long way from her childhood in Essex, one of five children, who began her school career late.
She became an expert in languages who graduated from Cambridge and became a top economist with the International Monetary Fund, helping the governments of failing economies to manage their responsibilities better and build a stronger financial future.
“We were a lucky generation,” she said. “We had so many opportunities to experience new things and have exciting careers. But the work I was doing for the IMF was also very serious and involved. I can’t think of a time I relaxed when visiting a country: we would go to the hotel and then go into offices to work and then come home again. I remember being in South American countries when there were Mariachi bands outside – it would have been very insulting to even look out of the window at them as we were dealing with very serious stuff!”
After a successful school career, Joslin did well enough to be accepted into Cambridge to study languages. There she met Pierre and the two married. After graduation she had a short career working as a Sub Editor for Punch, but then Pierre’s career took them to Africa.
They spent a number of happy years firstly in Tanzania and then Botswana, before Pierre’s work again called them across the seas – this time to Washington DC for the World Bank.
It was here that Joslin began her journey to becoming one of the world’s top economists. She secured a job working for the International Monetary Fund, which was set up to help failing economies in the interest of bringing about global financial stability.
“During those years I had done a lot quite apart from bringing up the kids,” she said. “I’d written books and kept active. But when we got to Washington I wanted a challenge and a role bringing in money to the house. I applied for and got a job at the IMF – my responsibility was to read economic reports and re-write them for a general audience. I quickly realised I would have to start learning more about economics if I was ever going to achieve that!”
So Joslin decided to start an evening class in Economics. She found it a challenge, but seems to have done a masterly job of incorporating it into her everyday life – to the point where she and her son would do their ‘maths’ homework together!
“There were times we were studying the same subjects so we would be helping each other at the kitchen table!” she laughs.
This journey led to her achieving a PHD in Economics four years later. Still at the IMF, she was moved to a different team that focussed on providing analysis and recommendations to the fund on the conditions that should be placed on countries who were receiving loans.
“I was, again, really lucky,” she told me. “The IMF was a very different organisation then – it was a small team with a family feeling. We all worked together on the issues we faced and we all felt very connected to it. This allowed me to learn and develop my skills and gave me the opportunity to have a career.”
Joslin lived what sounds like a very glamorous life, jetting off to different countries for her work on a regular basis.
It was anything but, she says: it was very hard and serious work.
“It was a very motivating and inspiring job,” she said. “I found every day fascinating and stimulating – you had a very strong sense that what you were doing was vitally important. Countries going to the IMF for a loan had nowhere else to go and were often in dire straights. We had to make very difficult recommendations which would affect millions of people – but I know that the recommendations helped the economies of those countries recover and become stronger.”
Both Joslin and Pierre finished their careers working in new positions in Bangladesh – and she said it was a real inspiration.
“I’d always gone to countries and although I love other cultures and especially art, I never had a chance to immerse myself in them,” she said. “But in Bangladesh we finally had the opportunity and I really enjoyed it. We lived in Kathmandu and I will never forget driving to work every day, dealing with the terrible traffic, then seeing a holy man riding naked through the streets, and everyone getting out of his way. There was a painting of him on display down the street from me, so I bought it, and it now hangs on my wall – a real treasure.”
Now retired to Dartmouth, Joslin and husband Pierre are enjoying life – and enjoying seeing their children and grandchildren make their way in the world. They have been heavily involved in the community, helping in the Flavel campaign and Joslin was a governor at the Community College until not long ago.
“The people here are just super,” she beams. “There is so much going on, and there is always lots of interesting people to meet and chat to. It’s really a wonderful place to live. Pierre and I get to do so many things together, so we are really enjoying our retirement.”
First published May/June 2013 By The Dart