In the space of three sentences: How did you come to do what you do (for a living)?
I’ve been fascinated by languages and different cultures ever since my first homestays and school exchanges in France and Germany at the age of 13 /14. Having completed a degree in International Business and Languages and been intrigued by the impact culture has on how people conduct business differently around the world, I was determined to experience living and working in a culture very different to my own, to be forced to question and adapt my own values and behaviors, and to go through “culture shock” and the adaptation cycle before becoming an professional intercultural trainer, so I moved to work in the education system in a small rural town in southern Japan at age 23. Six years later in Tokyo, having travelled extensively for business across the Pan-Asian region for three years and dealt with clients from all over the world, I began my career as a corporate intercultural trainer whilst continuing to travel and work globally in my other profession as an international qualitative market researcher.
How might intercultures’ customers find you unique?
Whilst I specialize in several countries and regions (notably UK, Germany, Japan, France, pan-Asia, pan-Europe), I have personal experience of conducting business on the ground in over 30 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas in countries as varied as for example China, Russia, Italy, Finland, Turkey, Brazil, USA, Egypt, and Kenya. These days our clients are rarely working in a monoculture environment but managing multiple nationalities in their teams (face-to-face or remotely) and handling clients and suppliers dispersed across the globe.
Therefore, I use my knowledge and experience of all these various cultures to compare and contrast typical attitudes and business practices between these cultures and those of the clients I am training, to help them be as effective as possible. I also believe it’s essential to consider culture from the widest perspective possible, including differences between corporate cultures, functions, generations and individuals, within and across national cultures, and explore these in my training and coaching sessions. I love training and coaching clients at very varying stages of their careers, from CEO and board level executives down to young “high potential” employees.
What do you like about working with intercultures?
In a few words: their integrity, dedication, expertise and passion. It’s a pleasure to collaborate with a training consultancy who are thought-leaders in the field and who genuinely care about their clients’ success and supporting their training consultants to deliver their best work. Another aspect I really appreciate is that the intercultures Head Office team also represents such diverse international and intercultural backgrounds (which is from my experience not at all a standard for training companies), meaning that they can really identify with their international clients’ experiences, challenges and needs.
In a globalal context – why do you think is your work – and our work together important?
During times of political unrest and deep questioning of the structure of societies, when people and even countries are tempted to become more inward-looking and retreat back to their perceived safety zone, defined by what they are familiar with, rather than embrace the “new” and the “different”, I believe intercultural understanding and international cooperation has never been more important.
A comprehension of and respect for cultural differences is essential to overcome the increase in fear in the world, not only to avoid missed opportunities and suboptimal decisions but also to prevent catastrophes. Furthermore we sometimes hear that with “globalization”, differences between countries and cultures are disappearing. However the reality is that differences have commonly been ignored rather than embraced. We need to become more aware and appreciative of these differences not only to “manage” them but also to leverage them, to ensure not only business people and companies are more effective but global society as a whole.
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