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GIACC holds session on bridging cultural differences in a global market

Umah Papachan
October 2009
GIACC holds session on bridging cultural differences in a global market

GIACC holds session on bridging cultural differences in a global market

Taking on the issue of how different cultures can have an impact on business dealings in the emerging global markets, the Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce (GIACC) launched a pilot session titled “Understanding Emerging Market Cultures” at Delta’s headquarters in Atlanta recently.

The lively breakfast session with 20 women comprised corporate executives, and representatives from non-governmental agencies (NGOs) and from the legal, transportation and finance sectors. Many shared their work and personal experiences stemming from cultural and gender differences with their male counterparts and colleagues, and their dealings with international clients.

A common theme was how to sell oneself, and the challenges of balancing work and family. Selina Memedova, Executive Underwriter at ACE Global Property, USA, who has 20 years' international experience in risk management, said, “Women can have it all but one has to make the compromises and be flexible in the work place. But if you are a young, eager and an enterprising woman, my advice is to bring something different to your borderless resume.”

Take a year to study abroad or learn a language, which can certainly “bring you closer to a dream job with a multinational company,” Memedova added.

Another question that elicited interesting responses was how to conduct oneself at work. Body language can say many things. Whether it's positive, humorous or negative, it can have an impact in cross-cultural business dealings. Whether one is warm, aggressive, arrogant, passive, polite, or stubborn, one's emotional expressions can elicit different responses at the work place. Even communication has morphed from the telephone and the traditional face-to-face into interacting via Facebook, e-mails, texting and blogs. A word of caution, though, when you're communicating online: You might just hit the “Send” button accidentally and send your message to a recipient whom you didn't intend to send it to, like your boss.

Can networking and socializing outside your working hours get you your next job as vice-president? How does one approach it without breaking trust, set boundaries and remain professional? James Sarvis, Delta Vice-President of Airport Customer Service International, shared this story: “My wife is a lawyer and she was invited for drinks with one of the top honchos of the company. It meant a chance to work up the corporate ladder but she was torn about it. At the last minute, she decided against it. I supported her decision.”

But he also reassured his wife that she had nothing to fear as long as she set her boundaries. He praised his women mentors who have guided him through the 35 years he has served with Delta. “They continue to amaze me. Women tend to be detailed-oriented, assertive, and well-educated.”

He extended a gracious hand to GIACC and hoped “we can all hold more discussions and strengthen our relationship, bridge the cultural and gender barriers women encounter in their working lives.”

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