Can you tell us about your background?
I was born and raised in the United States but have spent a great deal of my professional life working in and representing other countries. I did my undergraduate studies at Boston University and worked in advertising for Grey Global focusing on consumer package goods and retail promotions. This is how I learned marketing but I never could put any real passion behind such uninteresting projects so in 2007 I moved abroad to Sydney Australia and got my Masters degree in International Business. While there, I was also working for the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce.
Following my time in Australia, I completed a project in the South of France consulting for the French Wine Industry before moving to Beijing to support the US Olympic Committee during the Summer 2008 Olympic Games. Following the Games I moved back to New York where I was appointed Head of Marketing and Communications for South African Tourism one year before South Africa hosted the FIFA World Cup. I stayed in this position in 2014 when I left to open my own Destination Marketing Consultancy. Over the past year I have worked extensively with several tourism brands including Tourism Ireland, Visit Norway and the Seychelles Tourism Board.
Why did you decide to school abroad and travel often?
I wanted to study international business and doing so in my home country didn’t make any sense to me. I needed the experience of being the outsider and being far from home. I needed to build my international network. My time in Sydney allowed me to do this and in many ways redirected me onto a my course in the tourism industry without me even knowing it.
As an executive what do you think are the benefits of cross cultural hiring?
I work in the tourism industry which is inherently international in its focus. Every day I am communicating with suppliers and customers and stakeholders in a half dozen different countries and I feel I am able to do this effectively because I have spent time in other cultures and learned some of the subtle differences. Americans are taught from a young age about the unequivocal American exceptionalism and it can be hard to find people in the US that truly have a real world-view. Having first hand knowledge of other cultures helps you to spot biases and see where things can be done differently than how they are normally done. Only by being forced into situations where your way is not the normal way can you begin to identify opportunities to do things differently or appreciate why things are done a certain way.
Describe what it is like having several cultures in the workplace?
I’ve been lucky enough to work extensively with several different cultures and each are so incredibly different. As an outsider you need to constantly be learning the differences in people’s work-ethic and communication styles. Over time, you also begin to understand not just what people are saying, but what isn’t being said and what motivations may exist behind the scenes. As you learn to spot these differences being an outsider, you can more effectively manage them to your advantage.
What skill sets would you say foreigners coming into the U.S should emphasize when coming to work for an American company?
Obviously foreign languages can be hugely helpful. Beyond that, people in the U.S. tend to feel confident that they are doing everything better than everyone else. Being an outsider gives you an opportunity to present new ways of doing things and communicating that may be more effective – but do this carefully or risk being alienated!
What about what they could work on?
Many foreign workers in the US have a hard time with the US work ethic. We tend to work all the time and live on our phones. The expectation can be that you are always available and that you put work before life. This can take some serious getting used to.
How can foreigners use digital media to network?
LinkedIn and Facebook are great tools to connect with others living and working abroad who have been through what you’re currently dealing with. Use them and connect with people as much as possible. Foreign Consulates in NYC also routinely send out information about special events and networking nights that they are hosting. Attend these and meet as many people as you can.
What are your favorite countries to visit and why?
Australia because it used to be home and I miss it dearly. Italy and Israel because they are my heritage. South Africa, Ireland and Norway because at one time or another I have represented them.