Frank Schreiber ’97
Independent Advisor and Coach
Previously: Vice President, Airbus
What has your career journey been like?
I completed a MIM / MBA in International Management at the University of Saint Thomas. Additionally, I received a Bachelor of Science in Engineering/Industrial Management degree from Purdue University. Currently working as a self-employed Independent Advisor / Coach since April 2021. While at AIRBUS I held the following positions:
- Vice President, Programmes & Services Transformation
- General Manager, Airbus (Tianjin) Final Assembly Company Limited
- Vice President Airbus Delivery Center, Programme Directorate,
- Vice President, Head of A320 Family & CJ/VIP Programme, Customer Services
- Vice President, Maintenance Programs and Services
While at Northwest Airlines, I held the following positions:
- Resident Representative, director of Aircraft Acquisitions in Toulouse, France
- Director Airbus Support,
- Production Planner / Foreman / Mechanic
Did you study abroad? If yes, how did it prepare you for living abroad after graduation? Were there any particularly influential experiences? What useful skills did you develop?
Yes, before university, I went to school in Taipei, Taiwan; Karachi, Pakistan, and Calcutta, India. During University, I went to Hamburg, Germany for my junior year abroad. Being a so-called “third-culture kid” helped me navigate through different cultures and social norms during my career.
If seeking to work globally, what are some essential things that you think students should know as they approach their career journey?
Preparing yourself before going – basic language exposure / local customs / misc. readings linked to doing business in the respective country.
What was the best piece of advice you received before you went abroad?
Best advice: Keep an open mind. Expect the unexpected. Advice I wish I had received: Recognize that there will be unexpected crises due to lack of familiarity with local customs.
Was there a difficult culture change difficult for you? What tips do you have to overcome the challenges?
I think the most important aspect, especially as a leader, is that one must be aware of how a decision is interpreted differently in different cultures. Applying Emotional Intelligence is a critical success factor. I sometimes say things in a team meeting to see who is listening / thinking; and this can be interpreted as being rude / insensitive in some cultures (e.g. China).
How has the world of work in your country adjusted to COVID-19?
In China, for example, there remains a zero tolerance policy today. Meaning, one suspected case, and an entire factory, or housing zone can be closed. In France, despite waning opposition to the vaccines, there is a systemic digital control mechanism in place (i.e. when going to a restaurant or movie theater, you have to scan your health pass using your smartphone to verify that you have been vaccinated, and/or are not coming from an area that is deemed CV-positive)
What is the workplace culture like in the country you work in? How does this differ from what you expected before you moved?
For example, while working in China, the workplace environment was influenced heavily by the hierarchical structure; ‘speak-up’ was not practiced as a standard practice – this, today however, is slowly changing. Also, there is a strong desire to avoid making decisions that ‘could’ result in failure. This can inhibit progress.
Thank you, Frank, for sharing about your career journey and life in around the world! Check our Instagram @ustcareer and watch this blog for more Global Alumni Spotlights throughout the semester!