Are you a global asset?

Global experience is more important than education when it comes to succeeding in business, according to Anna Tavis, head of talent and development at Brown Brothers Harriman. If she is right, not only will the way global businesses are run change drastically, a different kind of people will be in charge. Devote 4 minutes to watching her explain her ideas to Harvard:

According to Anna Tavis, the requirements of today’s global market place has changed and the traditional success formula of education will no longer open up opportunities. It’s taken for granted that you are educated. But what else do you  have to offer?

Globalisation of talent

People looking for talent for global organisations are on the lookout for a different profile than in the past, she says and adds that they now recruit all over the world as opposed to only in the country their head office is located in. The same holds true for finding the next generation of leaders.

Head offices a thing of the past?

Speaking the local language and thoroughly understanding the culture of the market you work with is essential, if you wish to succeed in business around the world. And because of time differences the next generation of leaders will be spread around the world, as opposed to all working out of the head office.

This will initially put a lot of pressure on people in the head office. But there is no longer a need to have the entire top management in one location. We can work from anywhere in the world and provide the same kind of service, expertise and knowledge, with the added benefit of understanding the culture we work in, speak the language and  hence be better able to negotiate and succeed in business.

What do you think? Is she right that education is taken for granted and it’s your global experience that counts nowadays? Or do you believe it’s possible to understand how people on the other side of the world think, what drives and motivates them through education only? To what extent can you understand a culture you haven’t integrated in? Will having one head office gradually become a thing of the past? Is talent globalised? Will top management be spread around the world instead of in a head office? Are you better able to succeed in a country where you understand the culture? Or maybe you disagree with her and believe that the traditional reciepe for success i.e. education still holds? Or do you agree with her ideas and, if you are not already a global asset, will strive to become one?

Video: HarvardBusiness – You Tube

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29 Responses to “Are you a global asset?”

  1. Geek Girl Says:

    I think she is spot on. We have seen this correlation in the past with companies underestimating the importance of understanding another culture and their product fails. I think it's extremely important to have knowledge of other cultures and therefore the locals would be great assets. With technology today there really is no reason to have a 'head office' for the purposes it has held in the past. I think the only purpose now would be for establishment of the business itself, like for tax purposes and such. Having a business degree alone is not enough.
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  2. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you Cheryl that she is spot on. The world is changing – and rapidly. Have seen people with degrees only fail all over the world.

  3. Susan Cooper Says:

    I believe a good education is and will continue to be a part of the equation. Taking it for granted could be a mistake. However, having a "main office" has already shifted to working remotely. That certainly requires a different skill-set then before.

    Understanding the economy and culture of the market you hope to gain market share is absolutely necessary. With the advent of working remotely, this then allows for specific talent to found/hired in the location that could offer the greatest benefit and opportunity for success.

    In conclusion the future is here. If you have the right education, cultural orientation and skill-set to work remotely you will not be wanting for opportunities.
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  4. catarinaalexon Says:

    In other words Susan, you agree with Anna Tavis.

  5. GuyW Says:

    I agree that there's no substitute for practical experience, and that having lived & worked in a given country/culture will always stand you in far better stead than somebody who has no experience of that country/culture.

    I also agree that multinationals will increasingly spread their head office functions around the globe – putting the people in the areas that make the most sense. So, one might find marketing's head office based in one country, manufacturing in another and finance in a third, for example.

  6. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes Guy, that seems to be the way forward, doesn't it.

  7. findingourwaynow Says:

    LOL …. Yes. I just had to talk it out to there. :)))
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  8. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like it Pat and agree with Anna. Your own experience is a good example of how the world is changing.

  9. catarinaalexon Says:

    As the advert for British Telecom used to say "it's good to talk":-)

  10. akandrewwriter Says:

    I think Anna is right in what she says that to have the edge you need more than just traditional education i. e. an MBA. My concern with globalisation which is already part if the world economy is pay scales. I question whether a similarly qualified person living in say India rather than the US will be given , or accept a lower rate of pay than US counterparts.
    This issue already ripped out manufacturing from both the US & UK so I fear for white collar jobs as well. That said there's no doubt that a person conversant with local culture with the same qualifications will be the better person for the job.
    How can the wealth be spread around without compromising jobs in the US is if the export of business is reciprocal. I question whether that is the case but ur better qualified than me to answer that Catarina.
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  11. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you Catherine.

  12. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, AK. Initially there will be the kind of difficulties you mention, that's part of the market becoming truly global. And the US will be hit harder than any other country. Americans will, like all other nationalities in the world, start integrating in other cultures and become global assets. That's a change that's inevitable so the sooner they start the better.

  13. Bindhurani Says:

    Companies are already finding that well qualifies people are available at other part of the world and their services are cheaper than the developed nations because of the value differences in currencies. So, to help the developed countries to survive from the depression, the world may need to have a unified currency…
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  14. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    Education is important but experience and the ability to come up with new ways to do things is a universal language. Think Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg who were Harvard drop-outs. Their ideas were more important than their education. Ideas can bloom anywhere, in any country. Yes, there are cultural differences to take into account, but how do you explain the 900 million people on Facebook. Community is the common denominator — the ability to connect with people you know and meet new people. The most important thing we need to be is adaptable because nothing stays the same.
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  15. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good for you Andy.

  16. catarinaalexon Says:

    True, Bindhurani.

  17. Leora Says:

    We are certainly living in an increasingly competitive world, and as Anna states, one can't go in with just the education of an MBA. It's the other talents, skills, experiences and knowledge that one brings that will get the firm to be interested.

    Years ago I temped for Brown Brothers Harriman in Boston – I don't remember it at all being diverse! My main recollection was that everyone wore a conservative business suit.
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  18. catarinaalexon Says:

    True that it's the other talents and experiences you have that makes a difference Leora.

  19. keepupweb Says:

    Catarina, I do agree with Anna. There's really no substitute for experience. That doesn't mean that we should dismiss the value of continued education. It certainly has merits. I just believe that education can come from working along side people in different cultures. A combination of solid business and management skills coupled with real life experience can be invaluable skills for employees to expect from their employees.

  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    True Sherryl.

  21. Wally Vega Says:

    Catarina, I agree with Anna, Great topic I think education is the starting point… languages, worked and live in other continents is important to be a global asset!!!

  22. Charlotte Says:

    Lots to think about here. I agree with Cheryl; understanding other cultures is key.
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  23. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes Anna is right isn't she Wally.

  24. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes, cultures is something that when overlooked leads to disaster Charlotte.

  25. catarinaalexon Says:

    Yes Viola, she is right that people who have lived, worked and integrated in different cultures are getting the upper hand from now on.

  26. Adeline Yuboco Says:

    From the way how I understand her, I think it's more of whether completing a course in college is still necessary or not. We hear so many stories about dropouts succeeding. But if you look a little bit closer, they still spend some time studying and educating themselves. The same goes for with my career now as a web content writer servicing local and international clients. What I do now is a combination of what I learned in school (I graduated with a degree in Communications) and what I learned through experience, reading materials and videos I've watched.
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  27. catarinaalexon Says:

    Interesting interpretation Adeline. Where does global experience, that she stresses, come in?:-) Seems to me you are doing fine.

    Anyway, she is basically looking at what will be most important for multinational companies from now on.

  28. Dennis Salvatier Says:

    I see her point everyday here in Los Angeles. More and more people that I encounter in business didn't even have a formal education, but they have life experience and speak multiple languages. It's amazing because here in America education is sold as a must-do in order to have a successful life, but more college graduates are out there without work than ever before.
    My recent post What Mad Men Taught Me About The Design Biz

  29. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good example, Dennis.

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