My cultural curiosity peaked when I had the opportunity to study abroad at University of Bristol in England for a semester. It was my first time leaving the western hemisphere for a place full of unknowns. While living in England and traveling around Europe, I noticed how cultures collided – many people speak English in addition to their native tongue, fashion staples pull influence from Nordic or Parisian style, and coffee shops pay homage to Swedish pastries and fika (a coffee break.) Since that experience, I have been inspired to find opportunities to learn about new cultures and cross-cultural communication and business practices.
International Business Management
Mock Research Consulting Agency
My international business management course was centered around a mock research project. We were assigned teams given the task of completing extensive research and data analysis on China in order to give recommendations to a Scotch whisky company, of our choice, that is contemplating exporting their product. My team consisted of myself, an American, and three other women, each from a different country, England, Paris and Italy, and each with a different background, advertising, international business, economics, and law.
We broke down the research into chunks that suited each of our academic experiences, and reconvened to share our findings and teach each other about things such as China's importing laws, economic history, consumer spending habits, environmental and technological influences. From there we collaborated on a SWOT matrix and derived critical success factors and recommendations for our company of choice, Macallan.
I found it invaluable to work with a team where we each brought different experiences, both cultural and academic, to the table. Even communicating with each other was a challenge at times, because English was not a native language for half of the team. I learned to be patient with a teammate who needed more time to process information in English. I also learned to manage tasks with a teammate who wanted everything completed with perfection immediately.
Global Professional Training: Mexico
Certificate in GPT from UT Austin
In my effort to learn more about different cultures and economies, I registered for a two-day conference focused on international relations with Mexico, coordinated by the International Office at the University of Texas at Austin. I was also eager to expand my knowledge about Mexico, because I studied Spanish from grades 8-12 in middle school and high school and had a love for the language and cultures surrounding it.
I learned about the rich culture and history that runs through Mexico, through activities such as lotería, salsa dancing, and flower making to gain a hands-on understanding of the spirit of Mexico. I gained a much deeper understanding on Mexico through the speaker sessions. These included Dr. Adriana Pacheco Roldán, who spoke of the innovation and wealth of Mexico city; Consul General Carlos González Gutiérrez, who provided an overview of Mexico's political position; and Dr. Ricardo Ainslie, who highlighted the current state of drug trafficking in Mexico from his many trips to Juarez City, Mexico. In a panel about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), another current issue for USA-Mexico relations, I learned about the difficult challenges facing a large population of people.
My biggest take away from the conference is that there are many factors – economy, politics, relationships, beliefs – that contribute to how different countries, cultures and community operate. To be able to work in a multi-cultural environment it is crucial that we understand other cultures in order to build an authentic relationship that will benefit all parties.