Part 2: The Business Case for Global Competence
In order to navigate our global commons, levels of knowledge and understanding of the world we live in are required, by international specialists in business. Flexible, globally astute employees with the confidence to navigate our connected global civilization are increasingly sought after. Women and men with second language skills, and the adaptability to work in other countries and with people from other countries are needed. Having the know how to import and export to many countries is a global competency plus.
Ohio is the ninth largest exporting state in the Union according to Ohio’s Export Assistance website. This Ohio government site, tells us that small and medium size businesses in the U.S. account for 97% of U.S. exporters, even though this represents only 30% of total exports. A recent article by Evan Weese, a Staff Reporter for Columbus Business First, reports that Ohio could see as many as 52,200 new jobs under the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
What does global competency look like for businesses with overseas interests? Don Olinger, retired Vice President, Supply Chain and Asian Operations for totes-Isotoner (totes, no cap.) wrote this. “While I was always based in Cincinnati, we had offices in China, Hong Kong and Manila. I believe it’s most important to understand the culture of the country you are operating in and that includes both history and current culture. One should understand the entire materials transportation from factory to final destination must be studied, including U.S. Customs duties and any options associated with customs duties. Language skills are always a plus.”
Phillip Poland, Esq. Director, Customs and Regulations for DHL and Board Member at GCWAC has this to say, “At DHL, we strive to be the specialist in international shipping. This requires that all of our employees have a level of global competence, which is why we build international and cultural awareness into our employee training globally starting at their induction into DHL. As a global company many of our teams are required to speak two or more languages. Being a specialist in international shipping means knowing the local laws and regulations where we operate, as well as, understanding the cultural differences.”
As owner of Trans-Borders Solutions, I’ve worked as consultant, trade promotion director, and importer/exporter on projects ranging from family business training in Turkey, and health care education partnerships in Indonesia, to selling pulp and paper equipment in China thirty years ago and selling a UK owned US business. Currently TBS works with a South African company producing printed silicon sensor technology for the Internet of Everything (IoE). seeking to establish a U.S. company. When working overseas, the business climate can change quickly. Look at China’s recent devaluation of the yuan. Staying alert to current events that can affect your business, having the acumen to find reliable partners on the ground and in the U.S., and doing your homework before you enter a new market, are signs of good business sense and global competency.
If you don’t have language fluency wherever you are working in the world, at least learn a few common expressions, practiced and correctly pronounced. Sometimes the smallest gesture of understanding and respect for other cultures can build the trust necessary to conclude a deal. Every country does not approach life or business as we do and overseas work can be full of surprises. In working in other cultures I’ve found that a tolerance for ambiguity can be useful and a respect for how time is viewed where you are working. Both are signs of global competence.
Patricia Musariri, originally from Zimbabwe, is owner of Intrinz Inc. in Fishers, Indiana. Intrinz Inc is a management consulting firm specializing in International Business, Corporate Treasury & Finance, Global Sourcing, Business Process Improvement, M&A Integration and other business services. She sums up her views on global competency this way. “In my opinion, global competency is an ongoing process of education and understanding that we live in a dynamic world. What you assume today about the world will certainly not be the same tomorrow, We live in an ever evolving world. We must understand this and build into our learning process the ability and flexibility to adapt accordingly.
Written by Deborah E. Schultz, President, Trans-Borders Solutions
Advisory Board Member of the Greater Cincinnati World Affairs Council