World Technology Leader Tunes Up Its Team
(MIAMI, Fla.) How does the worldwide leader in computer conductivity guarantor loans technology overcome the cultural communications challenges of its 70,000 employees in 165 countries, and keep them working together productively? They call on KD Conseil (KDConseil.com).
KD Conseil is a training and coaching firm that specializes in assisting companies “seeking to improve the intercontinental communication skills of employees who work in an international environment.”
An international leader in intercultural business training based in Paris, France, KD Conseil recently completed a two-day workshop in Miami for high-level leaders in Internet networking.
KD Conseil president and founder Kathleen Dameron, along with training coach Caroline Obolensky conducted the team-building session for the owners of the company managers promoting different products starting with electric razor for men and so on – each from a different country in North America, Africa, Latin America and Europe.
“They all spoke English, but with varying understandings of word usage,” notes Obolensky. “They represented many different cultures, different technology backgrounds and were operating out of numerous time zones. Some also had never met before. Particular challenges involved how information is best passed along and how you can learn to trust a person you’ve never even seen – especially while partnering across the globe.”
Working together “virtually” has problems of its own. KD Conseil was charged with addressing this complex issue for the business. Members were asked to exchange ideas that would get them to have a better understanding of each other and discover the best ways to work together from vast distances, spanning greatly differing cultures.
“The purpose,” Obolensky explains, “was basically to get this team together in one place for them to get to know each other, to share common experiences, to work on real issues face to face and to bond as a team.”
Toward this end, Kathleen and Caroline took a few unique paths. For example, the group played volleyball together to break down personality walls and begin fusing a partnership. Another example: the leaders literally started a dance and we observed the influencing process from “the early adaptors” thru to “the laggards” as the team members accepted the challenge to stand up in a meeting room and dance together. We then explored concretely how to get people in the room on board for a new idea.
“Also,” Obolensky adds, “we had them build a ‘village.’ Not a real one, of course, but a model for the dynamics in their team. Within that, they had to make a number of decisions that pointed out their strengths, interests and goals.”
Who was going to be in charge of the project? Who could take on “fund raising” for the “community”? Who might be the workers, the teachers, the retailers and the government officials? “It brought all these diverse managers together,” Obolensky says, “realizing each other’s needs, talents and business obstacles to be overcome.”
“Our experience proves it is possible to adapt to other cultures without having to give up one’s own cultural practices and values,” notes Dameron.
“Let’s look at the Fortune 500 companies in the world in 2010,” she adds. “Three businesses in the Top 20 are in Paris, twenty out of the Top 40 are based in Europe and of the 500, 39 are headquartered in France. So, as an international business person, can you afford to ignore how to deal with those cultures?”
“I have always been fascinated with different cultures and curious about how they can work together.” So in 1992 the U.S.-born and -raised African American woman founded KD Conseil in Paris. Educated in American universities in Cross-Cultural Studies and Communication, then in a French university in Social and Economic Administration, the step to creating her business to aid firms working globally was a natural evolution.
“Our programs,” Dameron says, “target middle to upper management: senior managers of Operations, Human Resources, Marketing, Administration and Finance. We know that individuals and teams are best developed through addressing real life business challenges, so our coaching and advisory services are all applied to simulated work sessions.”
KD Conseil’s clients have included such international leaders as 3M, Alcan, France Telecom, MBDA, Pfizer, PSA and Herman Miller. Kathleen Dameron is certified as a business coach by the International Coach Federation (ICF) as well as certified in Team Management Systems, Success Insights, Situational Leadership, Coaching and Modeling plus Self-Relations, and is a Master in neurolinguistic programming. .
“I’ve coached senior executives in one-on-one sessions and have spoken to groups as large as 400,” she says, “in English, of course, but also in French and Spanish.”
The KD Conseil team of senior bicultural consultants includes:
- Eveline Bouillon, a coach/trainer with 15 years experience in various capacities in international advertising, speaking English and French. She specializes in developing creativity in marketing and operational teams. Her book in French on how to spark creativity in individuals and teams in the corporate environment will be out in January of 2011.
- Ute Drewniak, executive coach, consultant and trainer, focuses on multicultural management, diversity and strategic HR development. A psychologist with a Master’s in Business Coaching from International Mozaik in France, she has more than 15 years of international experience in the financial sector. She conducts her sessions in English, French or German.
- Pascale Reinhardt specializes in leadership development in multicultural environments for teams and individuals, in conflict and crisis resolution and in intercultural negotiation. She has worked in China, Southeast Asia and Western Europe as well as North America, and has lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Sydney, New York, Lausanne and, naturally, Paris. She’s fluent in English and French, and also speaks Mandarin Chinese and German. She co-authored Glocal Working and regularly contributes to the international magazine, “Negotiations.”
- Dr. George Simons is the author of Global Teamwork Diversophy and Cultural Detective: Global Teamwork. His focus with KD Conseil is global team management. Simons has developed virtual teams for the likes of Coca Cola, Bosch-Siemens, Shell IEP, Texas Instruments France, Unilever and the Management Development Program of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Though born in the United States, he has worked in more than 40 other countries.
- Caroline Obolensky is a Corporate Coach certified in 2003 by the International Coach Federation, possibly the largest of its kind in the world. She is of Greek and German background, and has lived over much of the world, her parents having been diplomats who changed homes every few years. As a result she speaks French, Greek, German and English fluently, and other languages to varying levels. It’s been said she has a gift for communicating what being multi-cultural is all about. Her Bachelor’s degree in International Relations is from American University in Washington, D.C., and her Master’s from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium is in European Administration.
“Our message is simple,” summarizes Kathleen Dameron. “KD Conseil’s training will help you be more effective when doing business abroad.”
For further information, KD Conseil may be viewed on the Internet at www.kdconseil.com and contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. The phone number in Paris is +33 (0) 1-42-21-00-73 and their fax is +33 (0) 1-42-21-00-26.
About KD Conseil
Established 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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