spent two years learning spanish B u s i n e s s F i n a n c e
For each Discussion, you are responsible for two parts. Be sure to POST YOUR RESPONSE TO YOUR GROUP DISCUSSION topic, and also,
please COMMENT ON ANOTHER STUDENT POST by bringing something new to the
conversation (another perspective, disagree, other facts, another
concept, different company, etc.). Please avoid posting a simple
agreement or compliment, and reply with a well thought out comment.
Group #1 Discussion Topic:
Leadership Lessons Learned through International Experiences(LO 4.1)
Robert W. Selander, former president
and CEO of MasterCard, was asked, “What are the most important
leadership lessons you have learned?” He responded by describing his
I spent a reasonable amount of time
living overseas. So relatively early in my career I moved first to San
Juan, then to Rio, then to London, then to Belgium, running businesses
in those markets. Pretty early on, I recognized that more is the same
than is different—fundamental values, wanting to give your children more
opportunity or at least as much as you had in life, etc. It’s present
all around the world, and that happens to be true in a lot of aspects of
business as well. More is the same than is different, but we tend to
focus on differences, and perhaps exaggerate or accentuate those beyond
the reality of what we have to worry about. I can remember when I moved
to Brazil and I had spent two years learning Spanish. I was out visiting
branches. I was working for Citibank at the time and had responsibility
for consumer businesses there. Brazil is a big country. I was living in
Rio and it’s like living in Miami. I was out visiting a branch in the
equivalent of Denver. Not everybody spoke great English and I hadn’t
gotten very far in Portuguese. As I was sitting there trying to discern
and understand what this branch manager was saying to me, and he was
struggling with his English, the coin sort of dropped that this guy
really knows what he’s talking about. He’s having a hard time getting it
out. As I thought about the places I’d been on that trip, I realized
this was probably the best branch manager I’d seen, but it would have
been very easy for me to think he wasn’t, because he couldn’t
communicate as well as some of the others who were fluent in English. I
think that was an important lesson. It is too easy to let the person
with great presentation or language skills buffalo you into thinking
that they are better or more knowledgeable than someone else who might
not necessarily have that particular set of skills. So that was
something that sounds obvious in hindsight, but as I was sitting there,
boy, for me this was a thunderbolt. I think that’s another thing that
sort of served me well, not letting the veneer distract you from the
Based on Selander’s comments and your own experiences, respond to the following questions:
- In what ways might you misjudge the competence of others based on language skills?
- What are several strategies to overcoming language barriers?
- How can you improve your ability to be a good listener for those with limited English abilities?
Interview a Professional with International Experience (LO 4.1, LO 4.2, LO 4.3)
Interview someone you know who has
worked extensively with members of other cultures. Spend an hour or two
asking this person about his/her experiences. Report what this person
had to say about five of the following ten areas:
- Preferred communication channels.
- Working in teams.
- Conducting meetings.
- Approaches to resolving differences of opinion.
- Negotiation style.
- Cultural values and norms.
- Adjusting to living in another country.
- Approaching conflicts or disagreements.
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