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DAA: Barbara Chattin

Barbara Chattin


Arlington, VA


Thinking on her feet fills much of Barbara Chattin’s workdays, especially during the .six months or so of every year that she spends at the Geneva, Switzerland, Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. So when she has a little time off from trade negotiations, she takes those overworked feet on mini-vacations in the Swiss countryside. “Switzerland has an incredible train system. I ride the train out to different little towns. At each town you can get off the train, get a map showing where hiking trails are and how long they are, and you can walk,” Chattin says. “And strange as it may seem for Switzerland, you can find some trails th.at don’t require you to be scurrying up a mountain or down narrow paths and ledges.” • Living in Arlington, Va., and flying frequently to Geneva for. extended stays, Chattin needs a portable and very parNlme hobby .. Hiking fills the bill on both continents. In Virginia, she also enjoys her own home’s flower garden. Hiking is especially beneficial in Switzerland, where the scenic meadows she walks to offer an occasional respite from intense trade discussions. Negotiations constitute the bulk of her job, and being able to think on her feet is her greatest challenge, Chattin says. “The more articulate you are, the better the job you do,” she says. “You can have a position identified ahead of time. You may know the general principles you’re trying to convey. But no one can script it. And when you’re from the United States, every word you say, people are taking down.” Her years at Purdue, which went beyond agricultural economics to include some animal science, process engineering, and a broad interdisciplinary experience helped prepare her. “It was a foundation, working with people who have a different framework,” she says. “It’s very similar in the government.”