What does it take to be a global professional? To possess a truly international mindset? What is the ’global team player’ so often advertised for in recruitment across all sectors?
In my experience, you are getting closer to this definition once your world is turned upside down by an international life experience. Once you have immersed yourself in a new culture and experienced firsthand that other world views co-exist together with your own. Theoretically speaking, you move from an ethnocentric to a multi-centric view of the world. You are now able to put yourself in the shoes of another person. To acknowledge that your way may not be the only way. And that the perception of a situation depends on the eyes that see.
Learning the hard way
For myself, my evolving as a global professional was shaped during my 3,5 years of living and working in rural Nepal and the capital, Kathmandu. Wow, this was a chance to navigate in a completely new context and unlearn what I always thought to be natural for me. The advice I remember most vividly from a mentor of mine at a management consulting company took me weeks to understand:
Drink more tea.
As if I needed to consume more spicy milk tea? Who was he to give me ideas? Slightly annoyed, I turned to my computer to finish the article for the magazine I was editing. Hardly noticing that my colleagues were gathering (again!) for ’chai’ in the meeting room upstairs. What he gently tried to do was to challenge my natural instinct to always put the task over the relation. For me – and many fellow Scandinavians – the transaction, the product, was so important that I failed to understand that the relation to my colleagues was suffering because of my lack of attention to the social side of work. During power cuts my colleagues would gather to talk. I would run errands in town and return when the computer was back on again.
The example proves to show that we are bound to bump into barriers, make mistakes and even embarrass ourselves when interacting in a setting different than our own habitat. What matters is that we are able to reflect, learn and adjust to a new environment and new social codes. Engage our heart, mind and hands in finding appropriate ways to interact with others. To eventually master a global setting.
Here to learn
Within the here we are global network, we offer ample opportunities to gather examples and gain those insights as global professionals. We work with people different than ourselves and we interact in settings new to us. Based on skills-based volunteering, our network activities invite for members to come up with creative solutions and navigate in unknown territories.
While this may sound very fluffy, there is actually an in-built structure in it all. The here we are competency matrix is a tool to help structure how we build our skills set. Our competency matrix has a separate track dedicated to global mindset: Here to learn. Together with six other tracks, we are jointly building a curriculum for global professionals. A comprehensive framework for competency building that will enable any professional to confidently map and present exactly how the experiences shape us as global human beings. To us, it is a given that an international adventure adds to your personal and professional profile and helps build your character.
We are set to finalise the product. We know it creates value. But we are open to tweaking it and refining it in ways we may not know yet. We invite you to join us to learn and develop along the way. And yes, we also invite all of us to take the time to have tea together in the process!
Jannie Aasted Skov-Hansen is the Founder of here we are global and Senior HR/Mobility Consultant.