In this article, Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman champions global experience over education as the key to success in global business.
I agree with her an international executive MBA program is not enough to make you a global executive, the same way that you don’t learn swiming by studying how world champions win a gold medal at the Olympics. You need to get wet and get tough challengers.
You can’t stop globalization even if you close borders and build walls made with bricks and mortars ! The internet, and social media make the world more and more connected everyday. Maybe your company is based in the U.S. but vendors might be in India, and customers in more than 40 countries. That’s why multinational companies need employees able to think globally but communicate locally with cultural sensitivity. I like to use the term “glocalization” to instill the idea that global products and services need to be designed in the early stages of research and development with cultural sensitivity too.
Do you want an international career and become a global executive?
You need a vision, a purpose and a road map: This is valid for career planning in general but most specifically if you want to win the global talent war you need to plan ahead, learn new languages, get exposed to different cultures via international working assignments. Be prepared to shift every 3 years and chose emerging markets before expats become a commodity in those countries. No matter how old you are you need to give permission to yourself to have dreams, explore your possibilities and identify your options. We all have choices but we need to use our imagination to see them. Once you know where you want to be, then put your strategic thinking at work to identify your goals strategy and action plan to get you there.
If you are still in college, learn key languages maybe Mandarin, Spanish, Brazilian or Russian will be a good choice in today’s economy. Find an internship or a job abroad for minimum one year.
If you are already a manager employed in a multinational companies, become the first on the list to be picked-up for an international assignment by participating in global projects and working with multicultural teams.
Learning a new language should not depends on age, you don’t need to be fluent but it is important to understand how a language is structured to get some clues about cultural values and unspoken social rules or business etiquette. You can learn about the fundamental cultural dimensions from colleagues or local intercultural clubs and online through many specific forums.
Keep learning in a large variety of topics every day is also key to become a global asset as you need to be highly flexible. Switching job functions from R&D to marketing and operation management is mandatory as much as living in various countries.
Related article: Why White Men Can’t Lead ? (zestnzen.wordpress.com)
See on blogs.hbr.org