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    KD CONSEIL BRIDGES CULTURAL GAPS BETWEEN MULTINATIONAL EXECUTIVES

    Kathleen Dameron

    (PARIS, France) – Think all people are alike?

    That’s not necessarily true, especially when you are an executive with a multi-national corporation and must deal on a regular basis with employees or customers who are based in another country.

    KD Conseil, a French organization owned by Kathleen Dameron of Paris, seeks to help multinational corporations work through cultural barriers to deliver the best goods and services possible. KD Conseil helps multi-national firms understand the different cultures within their organization. By understanding and working through cultural differences, KD Conseil helps the firm develop “shared practices” that will be highly efficient ways of delivering their services and products in a global market.

    “A lot of what I do is help people to understand that they have a culture,” she said. “When you are in your own culture, everything goes more or less the same way. When you go to work with a different culture, they will do the same things for very different reasons. And sometimes they will do things very differently.”

    “You can have some surprises,” she said. “Some of them will be pleasant, some of them unpleasant.”
    While differences between countries can be quite pronounced, people within the same country can also have different cultures based on the type of work they do.

    “Marketing people have a certain way of doing things,” Dameron explained. “Engineers have another. So if you put into a room, people who are all American marketing people, they would have a lot in common as to how they do things. If you are in a room with different American people, such as marketing people, engineers and sales people, there are some things that will be different. And if you put together people who are French, American, German and Indonesian then they might have very different ideas about everything.”

    For instance, Dameron has worked with a multi-national company that does business in about 80 countries. When the company first started working with her, it wanted all the subsidiaries to do all things the same way. She is helping them to envision a company-wide plan that addresses the need for flexibility in how things are done.

    “Their practices were creating real issues within this organization. It led to things being done partially. They wanted things done that don’t work in the French market, that don’t work in the American market.”
    For instance, this company wanted all of their offices to use the same insurance forms. But on a German insurance form, it is natural to ask the customer to state his or her religion. That is because of a difference in how Germany and other countries handle the issue of giving money to churches.

    “In Germany, when people pay taxes, the government sends a portion of the tax money to a church, based on the taxpayer’s stated preference,” Dameron explained. “In the United States, if I want to give money to my faith, I’ll do it myself.”

    “The Germans didn’t see a problem with that question,” she said. “But if their subsidiaries started sending that form to the United States, we could have had a lawsuit. All the subsidiaries did was argue with headquarters and then do what they wanted to.”

    With Dameron’s help, the company and subsidiary managers were able to see that it would be more effective to develop a “shared practice.” That is, they would agree on a form with questions that all could ask, and each subsidiary could then send a supplemental form with additional questions that would be helpful where they did business.

    As she did with this insurance company, Dameron works with each of her clients to help them develop a unique solution to whatever problems culture clashes could cause. She calls this “decoding” the other culture.

    “A lot of firms want a list of what to do and not to do. You can find those things online,” she said. “My added value is how I can help you learn how to understand and work with the differences within another culture.”

    “People want a list of what to do and what not to do because makes them comfortable,” she added. “Some of that is really useful and helpful. Some of it is giving yourself a crutch so you don’t have to learn about other people’s cultures. What you really need to do is learn how to decode the other culture.”

    Dameron offers her assistance in decoding cultures primarily by presenting one- to three-day seminars to company executives in retreat settings. She is also a public speaker who has given presentations on multicultural competence to the French multi-national defense company Theles, executive MBA students at French business school Essec and to the French organization Societa Frances de Coaching, which is an organization for business coaches and life coaches.

    Her recent clients include:
    • AGF of the Allianz Insurance Group
    • Rio Tinto Alcan
    • BNP Paribas
    • College de Polytechnic, which is the premier engineering school in France, she trains management/leadership executives enrolled in the continuing education program
    • ESSEC, the premier business school in France, she trains students enrolled in the Masters of Business Administration and Master of International Affairs programs for executive management
    • Thales
    • KCI Laboratories
    • Thomson Multimedia
    • Tyco Electronics
    • Veolia Water
    • Vuitton

    To reach KD Conseil, phone (331) 4221-0073 or email info@kdconseil.com. French speakers may obtain information about the company through the website www.kdconseil.com and English speakers will be able to do so soon.

    Kathleen Dameron was born in East St. Louis, Illinois and also lived in southern California. She graduated from the Johnston Center for Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands in California. She also has a degree from the Universitè de Paris. She resides in Paris, France, where she established KD Conseil in 1992.
    KD Conseil helps multi-national firms understand the different cultures within their organization. By understanding and working through cultural differences, KD Conseil helps the firm develop “shared practices” that will be highly efficient ways of delivering their services and products in a global market.
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