WNA Blog

Mon 3 Aug 2020

The Delights And Perils Of An International Business Woman


In The News
Organisations have a common denominator. People.

Every organisation, regardless of which continent, has similar issues – all centered on people. Ineffective leadership, inadequate communication and for many, ongoing conflict amongst staff are some of the issues. 

A key skill for an international business woman is knowing what will work and what will not with a particular audience. This comes from experience and a firm understanding of the culture and the people with whom you may be working.  

Empowering Women to Thrive 

To assume that we know the plight of a woman in Africa or Fiji, for example, is bordering on arrogance.  Whilst they are woman like we arethey have their own unique challenges – cultural aspects of life, the expectations of community and family, and their own narrative of where they fit into the world. 

Five delights of working internationally 

The people you meet 

There are some extraordinary people and you always have to have an open mind about meeting cultures different from our own.  Lifelong friendships are often formed through international work.  They add such a rich tapestry to our lives 

The cultures you experience 

Seeing the different way people live, relate and experience life is a fantastic gift to receive.  

The countries you visit 

Exotic, different, unique!  New sightsscenes, and tastesIt can be all so uplifting. 

The difference you make 

The core of satisfaction is to know that in our own small way, we can make a difference to our struggling world every day. Leadership and women are where the key issues are, so we need to position ourselves in both markets. 

The relationships you forge 

Lifelong friendships are so often formed through international work. 

Five perils of working internationally 

You must be in shape physically and mentally 

Travelling is exhausting: in and out of taxis, airports, and queues. Even sitting on a plane for a long time is tiring. There is a great misconception about the excitement of travelling. Getting off planes and then coaching CEO’s or Boards or delivering training programs to senior government officials the next day can be really tiring.  So look after your health carefully, exercise daily, watch your diet and rest as much as you can. 

You must be constantly culturally aware and follow protocol 

Never assume you know a culture and its idiosyncrasies unless you have experienced it for a while. Protocol determines that there are things you can and cannot do in every culture, and it’s best to get very clear on these at the outset so no major mistakes are made. 

You need to learn the landscape quickly – politically and business wise 

Politics and how each nation does business is not the same around the world. Move with the guidance of a very senior leader if possibleThis helps build a positive reputation. 

You must operate within the cultural and legal confines of the country in which you are working  

A key aspect to being successful when working internationally is knowing what you can and cannot do, what is acceptable and what is not. Small things like how to dress, how to greet people in senior positions and how to behave in the company of others is critical.  

You must be adept at working cross culturally 

You have to be aware that what occurs in your country is not what may happen elsewhere.  It is important to be astute about what may work cross-culturally and what may not.   

We can make an impact, even in a small way, in helping the world move towards being a better place by upskilling leaders and helping women, slowly but surely, to become more empowered and have louder voices in a modern-day world. 


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