Monday 30 August 2021

The British Council has appointed Francis Gardener-Trejo as our new country director in Azerbaijan. He will lead our team from 15 September 2021 as we continue our mission to build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and Azerbaijan through arts and culture, education and the English language.

Francis joined the British Council in 2015, and has worked in a number of the organisation’s priority operations. He has been Assistant Director Nigeria and managed programmes in India, spanning a range of Cultural Relations disciplines. Before moving to Azerbaijan, Francis has been based at the British Council’s London headquarters, managing government relations, bilateral strategy and risk for MENA, Europe and Wider Europe. Francis is an advocate for the transformative potential of Cultural Relations for young people and wider society, and its unique role in strengthening relations between communities and countries. 

Francis is excited to take up the role of the Country Director in Azerbaijan and continue the British Council’s 28-year legacy of supporting the government’s priority reform agendas, alongside the British Embassy. 

Our outgoing Country Director in Azerbaijan, Summer Xia, will move to Jordan to take up his new role as the British Council’s Country Director for Jordan and Cluster Lead for the Levant region, continuing to create international opportunities for the people of the UK and other countries and build trust between them worldwide. He comments:

“I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead the fantastic British Council team in Azerbaijan to make a small contribution in raising standards of English, internationalising Higher Education, developing the Creative Industry, and creating a more inclusive society across this beautiful country, through cooperation with our wonderful partners. Azerbaijan will always have a special place in my heart because of its kind people, legendary  hospitality, stunning scenery, and creative energy.”

In the last three years, Summer has contributed to the opening of the 18 new Learning Hubs across eight regions of Azerbaijan, providing Azerbaijan’s young people with the high-quality education and skills for employability, empowerment, inclusion, and integration with the wider world. In June, we opened a brand new ACCA hub in Baku, enabling more young Azerbaijanis to take the internationally-recognised examinations. He led our team in fostering international partnerships between 16 Higher Education and arts organisations in the UK and Azerbaijan, establishing the UK as a key partner for the development of the creative economy and working with the young people, entrepreneurs, cultural leaders, and the disabled people in Azerbaijan.

We wish Summer Xia every success in his professional and personal journey. We also look forward to building new and maintaining the existing connections between people in the UK and Azerbaijan across the arts and culture, education and the English language under Francis Gardener-Trejo’s leadership.

Francis will also lead us in delivering the 2021-22 Alumni Awards competition, which shines a light on the impact that alumni of UK higher education institutions are making in their chosen field. The applications are open from 1 September 2021 - you are welcome to apply:

Summer Xia will join us for a live Facebook farewell stream on 1 September 2021, 18.00 (Baku time). Make sure to join us at

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934, we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body.