Executives with multi-cultural life experience are almost always the better hire.

Written by: Emily Wagner

I have had introductory career conversations with hundreds of executives. For my own curiosity, I am always fascinated to know their “story”. What they did to get where they are today and what they have sacrificed as well. That nagging intrigue to understand how people live and work, is ultimately what led me into my profession. Exploring the ideas around what drives ambition, and creates the story of a successful career, grab me every time.

I have had introductory career conversations with hundreds of executives. For my own curiosity, I am always fascinated to know their “story”. What they did to get where they are today and what they have sacrificed as well. That nagging intrigue to understand how people live and work, is ultimately what led me into my profession. Exploring the ideas around what drives ambition, and creates the story of a successful career, grab me every time.

The most interesting and forward thinking people behind the stories I have heard always all have a few things in common.

  1. They have utilized creativity in their careers leading them to step outside the box of their “norm”.
  2. They carry broad, cultural life experiences.

The relation between the two is obvious.

Anyone who has ever moved as an adult, across the region, country or internationally, knows what happens when you spend any meaningful timespan living and working in an environment different than your own. You are forced out of your comfort zone and evolve to be comfortable accepting choices outside of what you have always known to work for you. This is magnified as the curiosity to embrace a new culture and way of life is beyond just having a “travel bug” to see the world, but showcases a mindset of adapting, openness, and comfort being surround by the unfamiliar. All traits that embody the most successful people I have had the opportunity to meet.

Of course some may think, why fix what isn’t broken? If you are happy living in the same place, why leave and disrupt that? However, this mindset is what ultimately separates those content with the known and those open to the thoughts that there may be different and interesting ways to see the world or accomplish goals. Living right in the heart of what is unfamiliar, makes one more willing to accept other viewpoints and pathways to get from A to Z. It is not about understanding what the right answer or approach is (what you’ve known vs what you’ve learned), but more so the ability to recognize and embrace the difference.

I also realize, not everyone has had the life opportunities or means to travel, study or live outside of their hometown, myself being one for most of my life. I encourage utilizing any means possible. Relocate with work if the opportunity is there. Transfer in the same role to another branch or office. Consider a virtual role that will allow you the ability to work from anywhere and just go. Your career will thank you later for the adventure you may see as risky now. The business landscape has changed, and will continue to change so rapidly to bring the entrepreneurial spirit and drive into boardrooms in corporate America, and the adaptable minds of the culturally versed fit into this environment with ease.

The best career advice I can give to someone on an early executive career path, is to go explore. Pack your stuff and live somewhere that makes you a little uncomfortable… and come back with a good story to tell.

Comment