Amber Bieneck Thom – Career Development
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Amber Bieneck Thom

Global Alumni Spotlight

Global Alumni Spotlight: Frank Schreiber ’97

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! 

 

Global Alumni Spotlight

Global Alumni Spotlight: Michael Griesbach ’94

Michael Griesbach ’94

Vice President of International, Grande Cheese, Wisconsin

Previously: Director of Asia Pacific, Hormel Foods, Singapore

What has your career journey been like?

During my 27 years with Hormel Foods I spent 11 of them in Asia during three separate stints in Shanghai (twice) and Singapore. My international experience started three years into my career when Hormel asked me to be a part of our initial foray into the region when we opened manufacturing plants in Beijing and Shanghai. I was there for our first three years before transitioning back into our US domestic business unit. 13 years later, I returned to China to run our sales & marketing for the country for a few years. From there I was asked to open our Asia Pacific HQ and run our business development for the region from that new office. After four years I was offered a position at Grande Cheese to start up an international division for them. I ended up getting that first job abroad as I tactfully communicated my interest in my company’s international endeavors. Three years into my career I was approached about a position in Spain and another in China. I indicated my preference was China and the company accommodated my request.

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, I studied in Seville, Spain in the spring of 1992. Afterwards I found a job at the International Expo and worked for four months before returning to St. Thomas for my junior year. When traveling to a new country for the first time there’s a bit of culture shock and naivety inherent with the experience. One tends to be less confident about even the most mundane of activities until a certain level of comfort works its way in. After living in Spain, and having the chance to travel to neighboring countries, that window of time to get comfortable and settled becomes less with each succeeding trip to somewhere new. My study abroad experience was very beneficial once I went to work in another country. I was able to get focused rather quickly without having to first adjust to the culture. It’s really an experience driven understanding that people from all corners of the globe typically want the same things and wish to be treated respectfully. Had I not had the study abroad experience I’m certain my international career trajectory would have been different.

If seeking to work globally, what are some essential things that you think students should know as they approach their career journey?

There are certain companies and organizations who have plenty of history with business outside of the US. However, many of them are new or simply quite limited in that regard. In the latter case, you have to take a very balanced approach to working abroad. The home office will want you to enact certain rules and standards which work well in the US, whereas your local international environment may very well call for something to the contrary. That’s not to say you should ever do something that’s impractical, illegal or immoral, but you’ll need to be flexible to balance the wants of the organization and the needs of the market. It’s never easy to find the sweet spot, but if you keep in mind the end game of being successful is the same in all cultures, you’ll learn to adapt your working and communication styles.

What was the best piece of advice you received before you went abroad? 

Best piece of advice was to do everything possible to blend in with the local people and their culture.  It helped me learn a second language much faster than what I saw with my fellow American classmates.  The language skills (Spanish) helped me land my first job at Hormel and subsequent language skills (Chinese) led me to an extended career living in Asia Pacific.

What helped you decide to pursue a career outside the US?

It’s always very rewarding to succeed in an environment where resources are limited and one’s creativity is challenged.  Being able to chart a successful path outside of your home country is incredibly gratifying.

Was there a difficult culture change difficult for you? What tips do you have to overcome the challenges?

Thanks to advice received before I first journeyed abroad I never really had issues with culture shock. I simply embraced it and tried to be a part of it. I’ve seen both student and professionals try and force their way to change culture and it never works. If you take the mindset of adding to culture, and even taking a bit of that culture back home, you’ll be much better off.

How has the world of work in your country adjusted to COVID-19?

Singapore has taken one of the stricter approaches to stopping the spread and resulting hospitalizations from COVID.  As I type this 97% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated. Although the virus continues to circulate the hospitalizations under age 70 have dropped to almost nothing.  Hence, they’ve done an exceptional job in safeguarding the health of its citizens and residents.  However, that does come with a cost.  There’s been little freedom of movement in and out of the country which makes business challenging and sometimes rather tedious.

What do you miss the most about the US?

Being away from family is always the most difficult part. However, technology advances give the sense of having loved ones being right next door. When I first went to study abroad in 1992 and work abroad in 1997, I was limited to, perhaps, a short monthly phone call to connect.

Thank you, Michael, for sharing about your career journey and life in Asia! Check our Instagram @ustcareer and watch this blog for more Global Alumni Spotlights throughout the semester! 

 
General Information

Meet the New Career Educators!

The Career Development Center is excited to announce that we have some new staff! Three new Career Educators have joined our team over the past two months. We’re grateful to have them with us, and want to tell you a little bit about them!

Violeta Lara – STEM Fields

(She/Her/Hers)

Violeta is returning to St. Thomas as the Career Educator for STEM fields. She will work with students, faculty and student clubs in the College of Engineering and Sciences majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.

She got her Bachelor’s Degree at St. Kate’s and holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of St. Thomas. It is her mission to equip individuals with 

the skills and abilities to prepare them professionally for the workforce to impact society positively. She practices career education through a diversity-focused lens to break down barriers to strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion.  She is always incredibly fulfilled by providing mentorship and guidance to the students she serves. 

Outside of work, she enjoys supporting local businesses, partaking in parks and rec services/activities, and supporting school-focused events. She also enjoys leisure hikes, tent camping, cooking new foods, and hosting game night and potluck-style meal gatherings, (including sushi and empanada night with friends and colleagues). 

Jill Thompson – Liberal Arts

(She/Her/Hers)

Jill is the Career Educator for Liberal Arts fields (including Social Sciences). She will work with liberal arts affiliated students, faculty and student clubs in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Jill has a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a Master’s Degree in Counseling & Student Personnel Psychology from University of Minnesota. She has had career experiences in nonprofit, for profit, government, higher education, and even self-employment – she is interested in a lot of things!  Her own liberal arts education, along with 10+ years of interdisciplinary research experience, gave her the critical thinking, self-reflection, and networking skills to navigate career moves successfully and find work she absolutely loves to do: helping others navigate their own career pathsIn whatever stage of career development you find yourself, she look forward to helping you reflect upon your strengths and goals in order to take the next steps that are right for you. 

One of her greatest professional interests is exploring the impact that physical and mental health have on career development, and vice versa. Outside of work, her interests include playing viola with the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, running, meeting as many dogs as she possibly can, and finding the best matcha latte in the Twin Cities. 

Luciano Guzman – Opus College of Business

(He/Him/His)

Luciano is the Career Educator for the Opus College of Business. He will work with OCB students, faculty and student clubs.

He has a degree in Geography from Macalester College, and during his time there he also took business classes at St. Thomas through the ACTC partnership. 

Since graduation he has worked in a few different industries including Insurance, Energy/Sustainability, College Access, and Career Development. He is passionate about Career Development because he wants to help students make sense of a sometimes mysterious and intimidating time of their lives.  

Over quarantine he has collected a bunch of houseplants, revived an interest in video games, and completed a cross-country road trip to stay with family in California. With all the time away from people he has focused on being outdoors much more and had a blast hiking mountain trails, exploring the California Redwoods, and running with his dog along the beaches. Here in the Twin Cities, he loves to play tour guide for visitors from who are looking for good food or things to do. He has a few culinary suggestions for students: the Veggie Sampler from Fasika, the Singapore Rice Noodle from Peking Garden, and a latte from his favorite coffeeshop called Hodges Bend!