Category Archives: Nelle Sacknoff (DC, NYC, Boston)

Beyond the Classroom – Digitally, Remotely & Glocally – Guts & Grace Abroad!

Beyond the Classroom: Digitally, Remotely & Glocally –  

Guts and Grace Abroad!

 ”All you need is guts and grace” is a fitting quote to anyone successful I’ve met working globally across the world. In some fashion or another, from the business to the educational sector, from non-profit to simply networking after work, those who step out of their comfort zone more often than not are generously rewarded. These are the inspirational characters.  When they are met with challenge or a roadblock, they tend to live by the saying, “there’s always another way to get where you’re going.”

For many around the world, it is not easy to reach out to someone you don’t know to ask for help for a school or professional opportunity. It’s hard to take a chance and apply to the program or company you don’t know much about, or travel to a country alone you’ve never been, even if it’s in return for the opportunity of a lifetime. But if you don’t go, you won’t know, right?

I am currently in Europe for a work trip I was able to put together through some of my summer client project work. I’ve been able to travel over land for much of it and cover some good ground and cultural exchanges while at it. I’ve traveled to Barcelona, through Eastern Europe and to Budapest to give a global communications training. Heading over to London to get back to Boston and then MIIS, while visiting a cousin, we discussed his experience working in the technology sector managing large global teams from various countries in Europe and Asia. We talked about some of the challenges of conducting businesses and global communications with so many foreign cultures, diverse expectations and perspectives. He asked me a good question. Why don’t sales teams at big global companies give cultural trainings to people like me who are moved overseas to work, in order to prepare them to work with different teams and clients from different backgrounds and cultures? He thought there could be a lot he could’ve been trained on ahead of time to help him acclimate and work more efficiently upon arrival to the new placement. Well to answer his question — they do. Many organizations and companies do provide cultural training before employees get transferred overseas or get sent out to work in the field. However, more often than not, after checking in with a friend who consults in this space — employees in the corporate sector have to specifically request this type of training. It is not usually compulsory. If it is mandatory, the training is often short-lived and maybe just includes some reading, compared to the months of preparation the state department or the weeks of training the non-profit sector might provide. In this conversation, my cousin and I talked about similar issues we focus on a lot in our MPA classes in terms of organizational sustainability and considerations when facilitating and fostering participatory management and effective leadership.

I think my cousin raises a good point. How come when I went to study abroad, they gave us a pretty in depth training at Semester at Sea before we docked at every foreign port to be successful in engaging in each country? Why couldn’t the same idea in international business be used as when I studied abroad in Australia or when I served for a couple years in Latin America through WorldTeach. It is interesting how these types of multi-cultural trainings happen less in the private sector, where there could be more resources to dedicate in the first place.

I believe a person has to have guts to do this type of global work in the first place. However with help from cultural training, what makes people succeed is the grace, diplomacy and meticulous understanding we need to use when working with our colleagues around the world. Training is necessary to inform this process. The grace is what helps a professional meet colleagues in the middle, build bridges (rather than break them), and ultimately allows people (and in the case of my cousin) “close the deal” or manage people successfully at work.

One organization I’ve been working with this summer, Connect-123, a global social enterprise that encourages students around the world to go beyond the study abroad experience, promotes guts and grace through global work experience. They offer tailored intern opportunities with civil society organizations and local entrepreneurs and businesses to contribute to the local culture, economic development and social impact they’re living in. In addition to this, they offer cultural and professional training to help interns acclimate when working in the foreign country. In return, the “beyond the classroom” reward is tenfold academically and personally, while participants of this program develop professionally on a global level.

From Latin America to Eastern Europe, NESsT, another organization I’m working with this summer, works tirelessly with social enterprises and businesses to sustain for profit and marketable opportunities to re-invest in their organization and achieve their mission. While NESsT fulfills their mission to help social enterprises, they also contribute to civil society and promote positive economic and environmental impact in their work. I’ve worked with their Latin American and Eastern Europe offices for the past 9 months and gotten to know them well and the sustainable social impact they are making in emerging markets. Boasting 13 different languages on their global team,  they all took a chance in their career to help the growing sector of social enterprise. They carve sustainable solutions out of international development opportunities daily. In doing so, they provide better livelihoods to hundreds of organizations and communities in emerging markets around the world. With a little guts and grace myself, this trip throughout Europe has been solo. During this trip, I’ve gotten to work with colleagues from NESsT in Budapest hailing from Romania, who also work with Slovakia, Croatia, the Czech Republic and Hungary on global communications and management solutions online.

How are you exhibiting guts and grace in your professional and personal life? How do you see innovation playing a part in this, if at all? Do you have good stories to share about others sticking their neck out and making a difference in their own careers, educational journey or to help others?

As I write, I remember how I took a boat, train, bus and plane to get me from Spain over to Budapest and then back to London to fly home. In my own guts and grace global journey, I’ve enjoyed keeping my eyes peeled for new and gutsy confidence and innovation along the way– and looking forward to sharing more later.

For now, the door is open. Stay bold and take hold of those opportunities; they are out there. They are not waiting on you, so why wait on them?

Beyond the Classroom: Virtual, Glocal & Digital from the U.S. East – NYC/Boston

Working Remotely, Globally & Captain America!

In this economic downturn, I had to make a couple big decisions this summer. One was to turn down several internship and job offers that were unpaid. I also had to turn down a couple lower paying opportunities that were not in Monterey where my apartment is, nor Boston where I could potentially live with my family. Instead, I offered up my global communications/marketing and project management skills to organizations I had worked for in the past (one which I did a school project on last semester), to friends, old colleagues and other professional networks to put together several jobs that could make up a decent wage for the summer. After 6-8 hours of class for DPMI and a couple more everyday for networking, I’d go home every night and send out proposals, notes, job applications and follow-ups to contacts and friends seeking opportunities. I was determined to make something work that was paid, exhibited a “next level” transition from my managerial experience, and also offered the opportunity to gain work experience in various sectors if possible to help me decide where I truly want to be working next year.

After securing four opportunities at the end of June, I then moved back to Boston to live with my family. Consulting for a social enterprise, a non-profit and a for profit start-up infrastructure and technology development investment and services company – also connected to the UN’s South to South Network—I had the incredible experience of not only working remotely, but digitally and “glocally.” It was not easy. The challenge of consulting on my own and working with offices in Budapest, Bucharest, Capetown, Buenos Aires, NYC and San Francisco were taxing while working across so many different time zones and with different cultures.  However, what else did I learn? I learned that I could do it, and it was fun and fulfilling! Often balancing many different deadlines, conference calls and time zones, I reinforced my time management skills, my cross-cultural communications abilities and became creative and more efficient as my projects were based on a set amount of hours. With this, I taped into academic skills learned from school, professionally reinforced some goals and assumptions I had, and folded in some personal passion too (as working in international settings has been something I’ve been crazy about since I took my first international trip).

My work day was not traditional and with the vast amount of time difference for any number of clients, my day tended to start early in the morning, and end late the night. I’ve learned a lot this summer from independent consulting, and it’s put a lot of pressure on, but I’ve been able to show tangible results like global strategic online communications plans, setting up a project management financial planning infrastructure online through QuickBooks, or producing a brand-driven institutional marketing video — one that also informs people about the social enterprise sector in general.  I worked hard and a lot, but the flexibility gave way for personal time.

Picture 1 – Working by the lake remotely – view after my 11am phone call with Capetown and before my 12pm with Buenos Aires.

The nice thing about this is I could manage my own schedule. Since my work day was long, I was able to take breaks to explore historical Boston Area by foot or by Kayak. I was able to work in NYC and Philadelphia while visiting family and friends. I was also able to pitch in and meet with a number of different prospective MIIS students and catch up with my nephews.

Another great thing I could was work on some philanthropy that I have missed out on back home, was working with an organization that some of my good friends from home started a non-profit and fund called “Birdies for Bardsley” for our dear friend that passed away too young because of an accident about ten years ago.

Picture 2 – Matthew Owen Bardsley’s memorial scholarship and annual tournament and Website here.

We raise money to go toward a scholarship for a graduating senior at our high school and toward the T-ball league we started for young children in our town. Every year we hold a memorial golf tournament to fundraise (where I usually am made to dig up my deep-rooted sales techniques and have the very important job of “selling the raffle tickets”). We also hold a memorial party the night before and it’s a wonderful weekend filled with loved ones, the sports Bardsley loved best, and the people he loved best too, with many more extras to boot. This year we raised $3000 for the raffle only (phew I made my sales quota from my tough bosses!), and much more from the tournament. It was a huge success.

Picture 3 – The annual tournament pre-gala with memorial slideshow of Matt Bardsley where we gather together and with his family to pay tribute. “Captain America,” my old friend Chris Evans, laughs at old photos and memories in the back middle among friends.

In addition to great pictures and memories that come out of it– knowing we can pass on this positive energy to support youth sports and development means a lot. It adds even more that a graduating senior going onto college to pursue a career in the public sector (like Matthew Bardsley) will have an opportunity because of the generosity shared in his name. A final surprise that makes it special if our friend, Chris Evans, the famous actor, who always makes it back. Chris is otherwise known as “Captain America” today, finding him plastered across buildings across the U.S., on Dunkin Donuts cups or your facebook feed. He is the guy next door, my buddy– just a down to earth guy and a great friend who always makes it back to give us hugs, share stories and laughs.

It’s funny how even “Captain America” can be a warm reminder of how far I’ve come globally, and with work and graduate school. His visit, not digitally to my Web browser or my local theater, his presence can also serve as the farthest reach or goal we can hit, but also as a reminder of what is local, and the community I call “home.”