Over the past 26 years I have spent the vast proportion of my time working and living in different parts of the world. During this time I would say the two most significant things I have learnt are the importance of culture and resultantly the ability to effectively communicate.
Clearly as an English speaker I have had, due to my ignorance of not speaking other languages fluently, the advantage that English still remains the language of business. However I cannot stress enough how important it is to understand culture and in my opinion recognise that culture is neither right or wrong, it is different. Too many times this lack of understanding, to the point of ignorance, creates issues that otherwise could and should have been avoided.
From a very early age I was sent to a “pay as you go borstal” or boarding school as they are more commonly known. This time both helped to develop my ability to take care of myself and at the same time spend time with people from a huge cultural diversity, and I guess this also added to my desires to see the world.
Leaving school I embarked on a business career that has allowed me to honestly say I have the best job in the world, as someone is paying me to travel around it. It is for sure a lifestyle not suited to everyone and “living out of a suitcase” brings its own challenges. However the rewards of meeting so many wonderful people and experiencing so many phenomenal situations be they be places, business activities both good and bad, can only be described as priceless.
For the past 13 years I have been working extensively in South East Asia and lived in China for 3 of those years.