In 2013, when we started U-Aspire, I developed a certification for Global Business Professional. This was endorsed by UK's Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) and subsequently, we got this recognised for Masters credit by the University of Greenwich. However, when we started marketing, we put more effort in selling longer programmes like an Higher National Diploma, offering a pathway to UK degrees. This is what everyone apparently wanted to talk about, and we somehow accepted that as a small company with little capital, we did not have the wherewithal to change the conversation. And, yet, when I look back at the U-Aspire experience with the benefit of hindsight, I consider this to be one of our 'original sins', as we got to obsessed with degrees. With the talk of degrees, comes the question of ranking, legitimacy and the rest, a conversation a small and unknown company can hardly win. Alternative credentials, even if new and unknown, has its own attractions, and, at the least, one can anticipate them coming from a start-up.
This is my approach now is as my life comes a full-circle and I look to do new things again. The four years inbetween has taught me a lot of things, and one thing in particular: That all learning needs application. When I designed the earlier programme, it was focused on 'Competencies' for global business - something I shall talk about shortly - but it was very much about reading up, reflecting and writing. Now, as I approach the task though, I am convinced that it does not work without a clear link to practise, and I want to build this whole thing up again around clearly defined tasks.
However, while this approach may be new, the experiences of these years have also crystallised some of my earlier concepts. For example, the idea of Global Competencies. I did assume that there is such a thing, but I would have struggled to define how they may be distinct from the usual business competencies, like communication, collaboration and the like. However, the last four years for me was an intense exposure to global business in a new sort of way. Not only that I was dealing with contexts and cultures that I did not deal with before - my activities and networks in South Africa and China are entirely new - I was also working with investors, colleagues and partners with different mindsets. I spent time working in a company where most of my colleagues came from different cultural contexts, and spent a day a week, for several months, sitting in an office where everyone spoke Mandarin all the time. In summary, this made me think of Global Competencies as a distinct set, rather than just being more of some of the things I mentioned above.
When I built the earlier programme, I used a framework I came across in the work of Angel Cabrera and Gregory Unruh of Thunderbird School of Global Management. They suggested that to be truly global, one needs to have three 'capitals' - Intellectual, Psychological and Social. This was somewhat high level stuff, without too many details, but the idea stuck with me.
The Intellectual Capital meant global knowledge, a general conception and ideas, of history, culture, rituals and customs, and perhaps language. This is the kind of ability which allows one to avoid what was perhaps one of most embarrassing moments in my business career, when, in a business meeting in Istanbul, one of my colleagues asked our Turkish business partners when Turkey became independent (only to be reminded that Turkey was an imperial power). This is also the kind of thing that saves one from faux pas of the kind I committed in my first tour of Myanmar, when I asked one of the business associates what he thought of the political stability (only to be responded with a stony silence).
The Psychological Capital meant sensibilities, understanding of points of views on the other side. This is the kind of ability which allows people to appreciate different concepts of time and space, be comfortable with high context communication (when someone in Mumbai told you that he would come at 9am, and came at 10, he was not being sloppy - he genuinely expected you to understand the traffic context) and be able to see the differences in customs not as peculiar eccentricities, but practises coming out of thousands of years of history just as reasonably our own ways have evolved.
Finally, the Social Capital meant knowing people from different parts of the world, and indeed, this is perhaps the most unappreciated part. I sometimes rather proudly say that I have a few people in almost every major country in the world who I can call a friend, and who, if I turn up in their city, would possibly make the effort to meet me, and I get the questioning look, "what's the big deal?" Yet, these relationships evolved without any business linkage - these are not the people I had done any business with, but more often than not, met them randomly in my travels or in their travels - and when I call them a friend, it is not for the want of another expression. I think this is unappreciated because not many people care much for such pointless relationships, but for me, these conversations, perhaps unconsciously, develop my appreciation for their ways of lives and thinking, their language and customs, and feed generally into my intellectual and psychological capital.
Indeed, that those authors call these abilities 'capital' rather than 'competencies' is important. These are meant to grow with use. We imagine competencies as something to have, a fixed stock, that we can bring to table in our work. Capital, on the other hand, is something we have and invest, only to grow it further. I grew a more acute awareness of this as I lived this 'extreme' global environment last few years, and realised my 'global stock' has gone up rather than down as knowledge led to understanding, understanding led to friendships and friends made me feel secure and connected.
Now, as I go back to drawing board again, this is my starting point. I am looking closely at creating an experiential programme to develop global 'capitals'. I am still in love with the certification - Global Business Professional - and the structure I envisaged, which combined travel and online engagement. But, last time around, this was all built around content - articles, videos, quizzes - and less on practical work. This time around, I am looking to build a programme around global knowledge - understanding of business practises, cultural awareness etc - but applied around an area of global work - project management, account management, entrepreneurship and the like.
Popular posts from this blog
A friend has recently forwarded me a quote from Lord Macaulay's speech in the British Parliament on 2nd February 1835. I reproduce the quote below: "I have traveled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen one person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we would ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage, and, therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient education system, her culture, for if the Indians think that all that is foreign and English is good and greater than their own, they will lose their self-esteem, their native self-culture and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation." The email requested me to forward me to every indian I know. I was tempted, but there were two oddities about this quote. First, the language, which
Introduction : The Business of Gift Giving Business gift giving has always been common and contentious at the same time. Business gifts are usually seen as an ‘advertising, sales promotion and marketing communication medium’ (Cooper et al , 1991). Arunthanes et al (1994) points out that such gifting is practised usually for three reasons: (a) in appreciation for past client relationships, placing a new order, referrals to other clients, etc.; (b) in the hopes of creating a positive, first impression which might help to establish an initial business relationship; and (c) giving may be perceived as a quid Pro quo (i.e. returning a favour or expecting a favour in return for something). The practitioners of gift-giving generally argue that doing business is often an aggregation of personal interactions and relationships, and gift-giving should be seen as a natural way of maintaining and enhancing these relationships. ‘Business gifts, especially one given in the course of the festive s
Buzzwords have disadvantages. Right now, experiential learning is one, and that means we put the label on everything and it stops to mean anything. Also, this means reasonable conversation about experiential learning becomes difficult - at times such as this, either you preach experiential learning or you are traditional, antiquarian and hopelessly out of touch. But, overlooking the limitations of experiential learning can cause big problems. Experiential Learning does many things - putting practice at the heart of learning is an important paradigm shift - but not everything, and it is important to be aware what it does not do. Usually, we equate the terms Project-based Learning (the method) with Experiential Learning (the idea) and Learning from Experience (the ideal), treating them as one and the same and using the terms interchangeably. Any talk about distinctive meaning of these terms is usually seen as pedantic, but really represent very different ideas about education.
Today, Helen Goddard, 26, a highly popular music teacher of a City School for Girls, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison. Her crime was to carry out a year long lesbian affair with one of her pupils, who appeared in the court and admitted that the affair was consensual and it was she who pressured Helen into the affair. For Helen, a bright musician and a devout Chistian, this is an extraordinary lapse of judgement. Also, she was teaching in the £13,000 private girls only school in London. She was surely aware what the consequences of her action will be. The fact that she still could not stop herself tells us that lovers do not always act rationally, something we always knew. There is more in this affair than personal tragedies. For a start, this has all the dramatic elements: a bright, beautiful teacher more in Julia Roberts mould [as in Mona Lisa Smile], a stiff upper lip school [not unlike Wellesley] and a story like Notes On A Scandal with an added twist. Indeed, Helen
There is no other city like Kolkata for me: It is Home. The only city where I don't have to find a reason to go to, or to love. It is one city hardwired into my identity, and despite being away for a decade, that refuses to go away. People stay away from their homeland for a variety of reasons. But, as I have come to feel, no one can be completely happy to be away. One may find fame or fortune, love and learning, in another land, but they always live an incomplete life. They bring home broken bits of their homeland into their awkward daily existence, a cushion somewhere, a broken conversation in mother tongue some other time, always rediscovering the land they left behind for that brief moment of wanting to be themselves. The cruelest punishment, therefore, for a man who lives abroad is when his love for his land is denied. It is indeed often denied, because the pursuit of work, knowledge or love seemed to have gotten priority over the attraction of the land. This is particularly
Introduction: Hastings in the history of Indian Education Whether or not one includes Warren Hastings in the history of Education in India is a matter of perspective. If writing the history of education means writing the history of schools, the impact of Hastings' administration would be quite limited. If anything, the rapid implosion of local rulers in Eastern, Southern and Northern India during Hastings' tenure had meant a bleak period for the indigenous education system, as patronage and funds would have dwindled away for many of them. The Company administration really concerned itself with the schooling of the natives only after 1813, as Nurullah and Naik rightly pointed out ( see my earlier post ) and one can legitimately start the story at this point. However, if history of Education in India is to encompass the transformation of Indian Scholarship, on which foundation the new, colonial, system of Education would be built, the story must start with Warren Hast
In most societies today, making profits are accepted as moral, if not especially praiseworthy. This was not as obvious as it appears today – people used to be embarrassed about making a profit not so long ago. Crazy as it seems today, it is worth thinking why it was so. Profits, as economists will put it, is the reward for risk-taking, for putting a business enterprise together in the pursuit of an objective. In this definition, remember, profits are not what it is commonly understood to be – the gross middle-line towards the bottom – but a figure net of entrepreneur’s earning [wages for his labour], dividends and interests on borrowed capital, and provisions for building and other physical assets [a sort of rent, offsetting what these assets could have earned if leased out]. This pure profit – surplus – accrues to a business as a reward to its organisation, for the act of entrepreneurship itself. Economists were divided on how this surplus comes about. The conventional wisdom was,
I wrote a note on Kolkata, the city I come from and would always belong to, in July 2010. Since then, the post attracted many visitors and comments, mostly critical, as most people, including those from Kolkata, couldn't see any future for the city. My current effort, some 18 months down the line, is also prompted by a recent article in The Economist, The City That Got Left Behind , which echo the pessimism somewhat. I, at least emotionally, disagree to all the pessimism: After all Kolkata is home and I live in the hope of an eventual return. Indeed, some change has happened since I wrote my earlier post: The geriatric Leftist government that ruled the state for more than 30 years was summarily dispatched, and was replaced by a lumpen-capitalist populist government. Kolkata looked without a future with the clueless leftists at the helm; it now looks without hope. However, apart from bad governance, there is no reason why Kolkata had to be poor and hopeless. It sits right
In our age, the only way to be politically correct is to be democratic. This is a post-70s affair - those days, still, some people had alternative ideologies in mind. Those alternate ideas are dead and gone, long discredited, and it seems that we have only one system which can make people happy, free and live longer. So, we have this huge export industry of democracy, and democracy's warriors, which the American security establishment has lately become. The democracy's businessmen, the bond traders, the media barons and the Hollywood types, are feted everywhere. The consensus is deafening and dumbing. It is indeed awkward to ask now - whether democracy is the right system for every society. It indeed should be. Collective wisdom is better than individual autocracy. In societies where democratic elections have been few and far between, the popular vote has demonstrated the extra-ordinary political savvy of the usually disinterested masses. Democracy has proved to be an excell
Introduction Erna Petri née Kürbs, a farmer’s daughter from Herressen in Thuringia, arrived in Ukraine with her three year old son to join her husband Horst in June 1942. Horst, an SS leader inspired by Nazi ideologue Dr Richard Walter Darré, settled in the plantation of Grzenda, just outside today’s Lviv, to become a German Gentleman-Farmer. Erna saw Horst beating and abusing the workers in the plantation within two days of arriving there, which was, as Horst explained, necessary for establishing authority. Erna joined in enthusiastically, settling into a combination of roles of ‘plantation mistress, prairie Madonna in apron-covered dress lording over slave labourers, infant-carrying, gun-wielding Hausfrau.’  However, there were clear rules in the plantation, and Erna was very much expected to play the woman’s role of being a Cake-and-Coffee hostess. When four Jews were caught in the estate while trying to escape from a transport to a death camp, Horst told Erna and her female
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.