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Global Business and Culture Explored at International Business Week

Featured Events | Apr 09, 2021 |

By Ashley Rabinovitch

For the past decade, the Gabelli School’s annual International Business Week has helped prepare students to find their footing in a rapidly globalizing business landscape. Taking place virtually between March 29-31, this year’s event was designed to showcase the diversity within the Gabelli School and invite global scholars and business leaders to weigh in on the opportunities, challenges, and risks that characterize the world of business in 2021.

“Cultural awareness goes hand in hand with creating, delivering, and sustaining value in the marketplace,” reflects Francis Petit, associate dean for global initiatives and partnerships at the Gabelli School. “This year’s International Business Week is an opportunity for students to gain exposure to themes that will play a pivotal role in their success.” 

Navigating the Unfamiliar

The week began with a Global Business Showcase hosted by the student-run International Business Association (IBA). Moderated by Hanaa Fawzy, assistant dean for global initiatives and partnerships and faculty advisor of the International Business Association (IBA); and Madalyn Kerrigan, BS ’21, president of the IBA, the showcase gave Gabelli School students an opportunity to present on seven different countries and their cultures, histories, and business practices.

“This event was designed to acknowledge the cultural expertise of our international students and give them an opportunity to share practical insider knowledge with each other,” explains Fawzy.

As future global business leaders, here are a few of the insights that students shared about professional etiquette across different cultures:

Japan (Hana Schulz, BS ’23)

  • Respect the hierarchical senpai system by saying last name first when speaking to a coworker who is older or has more experience.
  • Embrace the team environment by participating in after-work drinks (nomikai).
  • Bow to show respect, and always remove your shoes for a home visit.

Poland (Karolina Niepokoj, undeclared ’23, & Rob Cydzik, MS ’22)

  • Refrain from calling coworkers after 4pm. Poles prefer a strict work-life separation.
  • Show respect by calling coworkers sir, miss, or ma’am, and never by a first name.
  • Don’t refer to Poland as an eastern European country; this is a national pet peeve. Poland is in the heart of central Europe.

Russia (Samuel Brown, BS ’22)

  • Recognize that professional culture is far more collectivist, with large but exclusive groups.
  • Treat “How are you?” like a serious question, not a pleasantry.
  • Maintain formality by referring to colleagues by their first name and patronymic name (derived from their father’s name).

United Kingdom (Sydney Kroll, BS ’21, Jack Parsons, BS ’22, & Alex Bettenhauser, BS ’23)

  • Don’t be afraid to take risks. Always try to “give it a go.”
  • Infuse humor into conversation and soften language with “sorry,” “please,” and “thank you.”
  • Recognize the importance of pub culture in building professional relationships.

Greece (Ioanna Triantafylli, BS ’22)

  • Appreciate Greek history and innovation.
  • Recognize Greece’s identity as part of the Eurozone.
  • Prepare for an enormous celebration on Independence Day (March 25).  

Mexico (Estrella Aguilar, BS ’21)

  • Make it a priority to build genuine personal connections.
  • Don’t worry about starting meetings on time. It’s perfectly normal for coworkers to arrive late.
  • Be patient and warm in negotiations, and recognize that many Mexicans experience pressure to say yes.

Puerto Rico (Monica Santiago, BS ’22)

  • Keep in mind that public sentiment surrounding statehood is highly divided.  
  • Use Spanish phrases whenever possible.
  • Buy directly from Puerto Rican-owned businesses rather than from multi-national corporations on the island.

A Closer Look

In the days following the Global Business Showcase, three International Business Week events took a closer look at the challenges and opportunities of global business leadership in 2021.

Moderated by Assistant Dean Fawzy, “The Business Outlook for India and South America” featured Elizabeth Abba, Associate Dean for International Relations at Xavier University’s India campus; and Fernando López, Professor of Finance at Universidad Alberto Hurtado in Santiago, Chile.

Associate Dean Petit moderated a second regionally-focused event, “Opportunities, Challenges and Trends for Japan and the Philippines,” with guest speakers Jowett Cecilio F. Magsaysay, dean of the Graduate School of Business at Ateneo de Manila University in Manila, Philippines; and Seiichi Yamaguchi (EMBA ‘2003), executive officer of Yamaha Corporation in Tokyo, Japan.

Andrea Mennillo, chair of the Fordham University London Advisory Board, and Ambassador Giampiero Massolo, president of Fincantieri S.p.A.

To close out the week, Andrea Mennillo, chair of the Fordham University London Advisory Board, moderated an event entitled “The Impact of the Pandemic on Global Geopolitics: Risks and Threats for Business” featuring Ambassador Giampiero Massolo, president of Fincantieri S.p.A.

“It’s an honor to be part of a tradition that the school has kept for more than 10 years,” said Fawzy. “This year’s International Business Week presenters did a brilliant job of demonstrating the need for heightened cultural awareness in leading global organizations.”

Ashley Rabinovitch is a brand journalist who specializes in higher education, entrepreneurship, and healthcare.

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