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January 29, 2016

Career Planning: A 2016 Global Perspective on Business and Career

2016 Global Perspective

by John M. O’Connor and Sallyann Hulick

Business and stock market fluctuations continue to be the order of the day. More than any other time in history, those fluctuations come from a global marketplace. So how do you navigate that marketplace for your business and even your own career plans? Today a successful business and career must be considered global in nature. In 2016, we must apply a global viewpoint and act on a global scale. In a pure paradigm of a global career, Joel Goldstein beautifully laid out the challenges, emotional intelligence and career fitness necessary to compete in today’s internationally exposed business market.

An automotive industry leader, Joel Goldstein serves as Global Quality Director – General Motors Account at GKN Driveline. He brought a global outlook to a group of executives last week in a kick-off presentation on career perspectives. We highly recommend hearing Mr. Goldstein’s insight into handling a multi-continental business and career. Take note. It’s our future.

Not only did we learn more about cars than we ever thought we would want to know (and found fascinating), but we also realized the automotive industry is a good case study for business strategy. GKN is a 257-year-old British company that is profitable and relevant today. The company, which had its beginnings in shipbuilding, continued to make adjustments and stay relevant throughout its lifecycle, moving forward despite ups and downs in the economy and the various markets it serves. Today the Driveline branch of the business is a global provider of parts to all car manufacturers.

Listening to Joel, he delivered multiple strategies that enable a business to compete and succeed in a global landscape. The astute business-minded leader will also apply these strategies to a global career marketplace.

Here are just a few Critical Recommendations he made for global success:

Think and Relate to a Global Customer. This may sound like a no-brainer, but do you have an effective strategy to grow these relationships? Are you sensitive to their cultural communication style? Even if you do not speak the language, do you speak their language from a communication point of view? Are you communicating and effectively leading on their cultural terms in a way that they understand? Keep your global footprint close to your customers. In GKN Driveline’s case, that means a physical location near the customer. For a business that manufacturers large parts such as GKN, the customer demand drives the location for manufacturing a large product, which is difficult to ship. But what else can help to build that relationship, especially when a physical location is not possible? Being close to those key constituents from a relationship point of view, always working on and acting as if you live and work where they live and work.

Digitally Engage Stakeholders . Having a digital global presence that engages customers means setting up ways to keep communication and problem solving moving forward. For Joel, it means communicating with constituents at manufacturing facilities and plants who work in countries from Central and South American to Asia and Europe – in the same day! The key here is the word “engages.” This engagement must be more than just a global map on your website or one-page download geared to a particular country or region. Promote your company’s global competitive advantage throughout the content on every page of the website. You may create content that speaks to each global region and that could mean a unique page or microsite for a particular region but that global viewpoint should also be evident throughout the main site utilizing globally recognized industry-specific language. Marketing automation technology allows the language to be designed with a unique perspective for the web visitor based on location, audience and known interests. Use the tools available to adapt your content for the customer to deliver a top-notch, memorable customer experience when they visit the site. That customer engagement can build and strengthen relationships globally.

Study and Utilize Global Drivers and Trends. In the case of the automotive industry, Joel gave the example of a mega-platform drivetrain which is in high demand. He provided insight in developing competitive advantages by developing flexible products that satisfy a wide range of needs across different world markets. The successful company will look at the global trends and be ready to adapt that trend locally for each of the markets they serve. A great example of this is increasing environmental regulations for all types of products and services and how technology can improve efficiency and create a competitive advantage. The U.S. market lags behind Europe, Japan and China in terms of environmental awareness because the need is not as evident and therefore a great deal of environmental improvement activity is driven by government incentives and legislation. In China the market is driven by need. The smog in China is incredibly dense and the market driver for automotive efficiency in that market is to find a solution to an issue facing the customers in China on a daily basis. Although the drivers may be different, the application for automotive efficiency is critical in all markets.

There are at least two effective strategies here: 1) Test your product in a local environment and then adapt it to a global need with a focus on what the consumers need in each region you serve. 2) Develop standard global requirements for your product to the most stringent standards and then develop local variations as necessary. The most effective strategy will depend on both the product and the market served.

Keep Your Standards High and Never Compromise. Goldstein focused mainly on the global supply base to ensure their product stayed at the highest possible standard. In today’s market and with a global career perspective, he recommends ensuring that anyone who may be a part of the product you are creating be held to those high standards. It’s going to be a reflection on your brand, your business and you cannot pass the buck. If the product requires any third-party providers for parts, it’s important to pay attention to the quality, timeliness, etc. of the third-party. Again, Joel’s insight from the automotive industry provides a good model. The liability and cost of failure is higher than it has ever been. If there is a defect from a third-party provider for a car, the ramification can be significant. It affects not only the company reputation but, more importantly, in the automotive industry, lives are at stake. This has been evident in the recent airbag issues. Most products do not carry the same high stakes as the automotive industry. However, any slip up from a third-party provider affects the company reputation and the brand within the marketplace. Ensure that your suppliers provide the best product available to keep customer expectations at the forefront.

As professionals with our career and our businesses, we may not literally be on a multi-continent ride like Joel Goldstein. This is the model that we must look at as we create the picture of how are career trajectory will be. Even if it cannot be seen in the physical we must be ready for this career paradigm to take place for all of us, regardless of our borders.

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