Global Alumni Spotlight – Career Development
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Global Alumni Spotlight

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! 

 
Global Alumni Spotlight

Global Alumni Spotlight: Kate Jeter, ’00

Kate Jeter, ’00

Former VP, Conference Producction & President, Healthcare Forums at Q1 Productions

Currently Launching a Hybrid Event Company of Her Own!

London, UK

What has your career journey been like?

Following graduation, I took a marketing position in a large, multi-national conference and event production firm in Chicago, called Marcus Evans. Working my way up the ladder within the company, I moved into a leadership position where I was offered, and accepted, a transfer to the Barbados office in 2003. After living in Barbados for 2 years, I returned to Chicago and was hired to start a new event research and production company, where I subsequently worked for 15 years, called Q1 Productions. As part of a corporate expansion in 2009, I moved to London on an intra-company transfer to lead European programming, and I’ve stayed here ever since, becoming a UK citizen in 2017.

In today’s interconnected global and intercultural workplace, what are some of the skills necessary for successful work abroad?

Many of the skills required for a successful international career are equivalent to those required for a successful career anywhere; problem solving, clear communication, self-management and a willingness to learn would apply to any profession, anywhere. Recognizing that workplaces are going to be different and have different ways of doing business – it’s not going to be the same as it was in the US, is especially important in the international context.

What was the best piece of advice you received before you went abroad? / What advice do you wish you had received before you went abroad?

The best advice that I received before making my first international transfer was that I could always return to the US – keeping this in mind, internalizing that a move didn’t have to be permanent can really help to ease feeling of uncertainty. I wish I had also received advice on what I really needed to bring with me – less is more!  

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

When I moved abroad the first time, to Barbados, I had a great deal of difficulty adjusting to what I perceived as a slower pace, and I often felt impatient with the more relaxed attitudes, especially towards business. If I could go back and advise my younger self, I’d emphasize the need for greater acceptance and embracing differences, a lot more flexibility, and patience.

Do you see yourself continuing to live abroad permanently or do you plan on moving back to the US in the years to come?

Having lived abroad now for nearly 15 years, it’s hard to imagine moving back to the US, but I’d never say never. With parents, siblings, a host of nieces and nephews, friends and God children back in the US, the draw is strong, but for now we’re quite happy with our life in the UK.

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