Having a liberal breadth of knowledge and an ability to think critically are important components of a “global mindset,” according to Julia Sloan, whose expertise in helping organizations understand cultural differences is renowned the world over.
Sloan, the owner and principal of Sloan International Consulting, spoke at the University of Findlay’s Fridays at Findlay breakfast on Jan. 25. Questions, which focused on international business relations and education, were guided by Jamie De La Cruz, human resources manager at Marathon Petroleum Company, and Damon Osborn, Ph.D., UF’s interim College of Business dean.
“Culture tends to live at the intersection of knowledge, history, social and politics,” said Sloan. Therefore, students and those working on projects with an international scope will do well to learn about the countries and regions that pertain to their work, and would also benefit from knowledge about adjacent countries, she explained.
Sloan advocated for historical research for optimal business growth. “If you really study history, the cycles of repetition tend to play out more frequently,” she said.
For students, she specifically touted critical reflection and dialogue. “You really can’t process things that happen on an international project without that,” she said. To fine tune those skills, she recommended programs that incorporate coaching, and partnering with businesses at the local, national and international levels. Doing so will help students to better understand communicative and cultural nuances, such as how people in other countries manage time, value work ethic and reflect gender differences. Sloan said her experiences as a woman working in different countries, particularly those in the Middle East, has at times been challenging, but ultimately gratifying.
“Corporations sometimes are afraid to send women into emerging markets, and I think that’s a mistake,” Sloan maintained.
Sloan has worked and lived abroad in 102 countries, including as the first female executive for a leading Japanese company in Tokyo. Her consulting work aims to expand the focus of business executives and public policy leaders beyond a strategic planning model to include a more expansive notion of strategy based on innovation and perpetual change.
For more information about Sloan, visit her website.
The next Friday’s at Findlay, scheduled for March 29, will feature David Ryan Polgar, a pioneering tech ethicist who paved the way for the hotly-debated issues around Facebook, privacy, ethical design, digital wellbeing, and what it means to be human in the digital age.