Have you ever considered living and working in another country?
Our alumna Gina Dunn, CPS’15, did just that, moving to Paris in 2016 and applying her communication expertise as an independent consultant. In this interview, I ask Gina about her decision to work in Paris, her impressions of French communication styles, and the value of her learning journey here at the College of Professional Studies.
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.
A couple of years ago, we posted the results of research that showed how the role of the Chief Communication Officer (CCO) has evolved during our era of digital disruption. While not many of us will work our way to the CCO level, we know that these rising expectations will ripple down to communicators at all levels.
That’s why a recent survey of more than 200 communication leaders conducted by Page, a global professional association for senior public relations and corporate communications executives and educators, is of such importance.
The survey results, titled The CCO as Pacesetter | What It Means, Why It Matters, How to Get There, identifies four areas of emphasis: brand stewardship, organizational culture, societal value creation, and digital capabilities. Take a look at the summaries of these four areas.
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?
In June, I flew to China with Northeastern University’s mascot, the Husky, to represent our program at the Beijing Northeastern University (NU) Alumni Community Speaker Event. I presented on my global citizenship research and shared the contributing cultural artifact, the Traveling Global Citizenship Canvas. This canvas is approximately 40 feet in length covered front and back with NU student and alumni descriptions about the values of global citizenship. With Husky by my side, we sought to absorb some local culture and gain a broader perspective on our alumnus home in Beijing and Chengdu, China.
My first impression of Beijing was the dichotomy of the space. The roads seemed so wide, yet the traffic was so heavy. However, an efficient public transportation system led into the heart of the city, Tiananmen Square. Immediately to the right when rising from the underground system, we found a boulevard filled with shops and restaurants. The magnificent city gates set the tone for grandeur and Asian antiquity. Husky wasn’t in Boston anymore. We entered Tiananmen Square through a security check point, and were surprised by the vastness of the square. The China National Museum sat strikingly on one side of the square opposite government buildings and the 14th century Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, seemingly filled the opposite end of the square. Within this square, there was a variety of architectural designs from across the ages.
Despite the heat, the gorgeous flowers and landscape tricked the mind to continue onward to discover more. Husky and I forged toward the Forbidden City, the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing Dynasties until 1911. No matter the day, thousands of people wait in line to visit it. One truly needs days to see the over 8,000 rooms in the Forbidden City, but we only had time for a glimpse of the guard quarters near the entrance. As I reflect, I can only imagine how our alumni must have felt moving to Boston for their educational pursuits; Boston is a very compact city compared to this spacious city.
After appreciating Beijing’s ancient splendor, it was time for Husky and me to talk with the young Northeastern University alumni.
These alumni were forming a new, local community with graduates from across Northeastern University. We shared ideas about the concept of global citizenship and how we might consider ourselves as developing layers of cultures in the midst of our global society. Many alumni voiced how they grew to love the culture in Boston. Although they may have experienced some challenges with culture shock, they valued learning about how to live in America.
Husky and I headed on another adventure in China to visit our own alumni and my past student, Mingming Xu ’17. Mingming was living in Chengdu in the Sichuan Province, a region noted for pandas and spicy hot pot food. Husky and I experienced wonderful hospitality, amazing food, and fascinating cultural sights. Click on the video link to share some of our marvelous adventures.
Mingming was excited about her new role in a start-up and contributed her confidence and professional knowledge for the role to completing her MS COC.
Even though it was just a glimpse of China, traveling outside of our Western city increased my understanding of my students and their Eastern metropolis. Although Husky lightheartedly offered an amusing perspective on my experience, I was most grateful for the generosity I received from our alumni. From a global citizenship view, I was impressed with how our alumni were able to recognize the cultural differences between the East and West, yet value those differences and make a home in both cities.