Alexa, chart my career path!

Stefanie Potgieter graduated from our program in 2015 and now works as a senior program manager with the Secure AI Foundations team at Amazon. Her role has several different components. She is the Business Operations Manager for an organization of 5,000+ employees worldwide. Her responsibilities also include executive communications, helping to define and execute a communication strategy for the organization’s vice president.

We asked Stefanie about communication and culture at Amazon and her jobs since graduation. She offers some excellent advice for every communicator, wherever they are on their career path.

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How to improve cross-cultural communication in the workplace

It’s no secret that effective communication is central to the success of any organization, regardless of industry. But in order to truly understand what it takes to communicate effectively, you must first understand the different cultural factors that influence the way people interact with one another.

Our world is more interconnected than ever before, a fact that has given rise to many changes in the ways that businesses and organizations operate. Workplaces are more diverse, remote teams are scattered across the country or around the world, and businesses that once sold products to a single demographic might now sell to a global market. All of these factors have converged to make cross-cultural communication a vital part of organizational success.

Here’s a look at why cross-cultural communication is important in the workplace, and the steps you can take to overcome cultural barriers and improve communication within your organization.

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Fitting into a workplace in another culture

How do stereotypes influence our behavior at work? Are our instincts accurate? A recent article in the online magazine Swissinfo described some of the challenges, large and small, amusing and potentially embarrassing, of working as an ‘incomer’ in a Swiss company. Would you expect to be formal with Swiss colleagues? Think deadlines are important? Expect consensus must be reached in meetings? For those of us in communication roles, deciphering the cultural cues and office codes is especially critical. As my colleague, Patty Goodman, often reminds me, we need to be aware of our biases, keen observers, and learn as much as we can about cultural values.

So what are the answers to the questions posed in the Swissinfo article?

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