Posts tagged Press
I am delighted to share with you, that we had a most cerebral launch of Upworldly Mobile in Chennai, with 150 leaders in attendance, at the event hosted by the elegant Taj Coromandel and my publishers Penguin. Dr. Sumantran, and Ms. Jennifer McIntyre so freely shared personal stories of how Culture Quotient building was a must.
I loved Sumantran’s summary of having a COO – Curiosity, Openmindednes, Observationpowers inorder to be interculturally successful. And Jennifer was so open about being asked at various posts where she represents American diplomacy, “are you married, and why not”? Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose, even if cultures change, similarity remains.
I invite you to read the press coverage of the fireside chat with these two leaders.
The Cultural Connect
There is a fine line between stereotyping people of different cultures and understanding the unique traits and practices every culture brings with it. Ranjini Manian’s book Upworldly Mobile offers an insight on cultural intelligence for Indian managers and expats.
At the book launch last week, the author discussed the relevance of cultural intelligence with Jennifer McIntyre, Consul-General of the U.S. Consulate, Chennai, and V. Sumantran, executive vice- chairman, Hinduja Automotive and chairman of Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain.
“There are over 3,000 foreign companies registered and operating in India and 1,00,000 MBAs from India are or will be filling up positions in those companies. But they seem to lack in cultural and behavioural aspects of management. I wrote this book for supplemental reading in B-schools,” said Ranjini Manian, CEO, Global Adjustments explaining her motivation to write the book.
It all started with a newspaper column. “I was doing training programmes with expats when I got a chance to write for Business Line. It soon became an interactive piece. The interactions encouraged me to write this book.”
Ranjini believes that the book would serve as a beginners’ guide to ironing out inter-cultural issues. “I always tried to map the training programmes so that participants are aware of the basic differences right at the beginning. The frequently-asked questions are included in the table of contents so that this book serves as a text which will take students from the campus to the corporate world equipped with the cultural intelligence tool.”
“We need to become a little more savvy about ourselves,” she added. “Confidence in explaining ourselves comes only when we know ourselves first.”
Earlier at the discussion, V. Sumantran, who lived in the U.S. for 21 years and in Europe for four, and now works with a Japanese partner, observed that cultural intelligence is about “curiosity, observation and having an open mind to let in new ideas.” Jennifer McIntyre added: “And sensitivity and ability to understand your own culture.”
Sumantran pointed out that western work structures are about systematic product development and discipline while Indian work cultures carry a lot of adaptability. “There is virtue in this ability to adapt,” he said, illustrating the difference in Western classical music’s discipline and Indian classical music’s improvisation. “We should be able to create a balance and get the best of both worlds to come up with a work culture that has discipline and adaptability. We need both.”
McIntyre said that she admired India’s multi-cultural society.
“The world would be boring if it was homogenous,” said Sumantran.
Meanwhile, Ranjini has already moved on to writing her third book.
“It’s called Why Do Indians Do That because that is the question I am always asked,” she concluded.
Helping bridge the cultural divide
The second article was published in City Express Chennai on 25th of October 2011.
by Prashanthi Ganesh
From working at the Taj, Mumbai, as a college student for pocket money to hosting the launch of her second book at Taj Coromandel, Chennai, Ranjini Manian has come a long way. After the success of her first book “Doing Business in India for Dummies“, the founder and CEO of Global Adjustments, one of the country’s first relocation, realty and cross-cultural services company, is back with Upworldly Mobile.
Like the tag line of the book reads, “Behaviour and business skills for the new Indian manager”, the book focuses on various issues pertaining to the global work environment and is meant to act as a cultural intelligence tool for young Indian and foreign managers.
Unlike the usual book launch where the guests on the dais grill the author with questions on the book and related experiences, this event saw Ranjini question Dr. Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive, and Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General of the US Consulate, Chennai.
It could be said that the session did fit the bill of the occasion, with the two guests sharing experiences and anecdotes from their experience from around the world.
“When my wife and I hosted a dinner party in Sweden, we heard the guests’ cars pull up at 7.25 and they waited till 7.30 to ring the doorbell,” said Sumantran, explaining the difference in the concept of keeping time with Indians and other cultures.
Ranjini’s book addresses the concept of cultural intelligence at the work place. She has drawn inspiration from her experiences of having worked with clients from 75 nationalities for over 16 years. “I read that there are 3.000 foreign companies operating in India. But there is a lack of cultural and behavioral aspects even in some of the top IIM’s and B-schools. So, the book will act as supplementary reading material,” explains Ranjini, as an answer to what motivated her to write the book.
The book also throws light on cultural intelligence as a way of showing behavioural differences in each culture and depicting the values from them, right from lessons in gestures, communication, etiquette, among other work place aspects. “My sense of space has gotten much smaller after all the travelling and I’m also more conscious of where my hand and feet are,” said Jennifer.
Ranjini also explained that she has had to make a lot of changes to fit in while dealing with the West. “I thought that to get on with the Western world, I had to look Western. So, I initially tried a lot of Western clothes and they made me very uncomfortable. I had to unlearn and be myself,” she says.
Over the years she has also learnt to speak slow, the art of being able to say no and being blunt, which are also some of the points that figure in her book. Effectively divided into six parts, the book has been published by the Penguin Group and is prices ad R.S. 250.
Being a global citizen, the Upworldly Mobile way
“Indian punctuality” is a term that pokes fun at Indians’ predilection to arrive unfailingly late for an event. But what do you say about their penchant to queue up two or three hours in advance outside the US consulate for a visa interview even though they need only be there 20 minutes ahead?
The audience bursts into laughter when Ranjini Manian, Founder and CEO of relocation and cross-cultural destination services company Global Adjustments, poses this question to Jennifer McIntyre, Consul General, US Consulate, Chennai. The conversation is part of the launch of Upworldly Mobile: Behaviour and Business Skills for the New Indian Manager, Manian’s book, launched at Chennai on Thursday. Penguin is the publisher.
Discussing the differences between the Western world and India, Dr Sumantran, Executive Vice-Chairman, Hinduja Automotive, and Chairman, Nissan Ashok Leyland Powertrain, said there is a very strong element of structure in the West, the absence of which would fox them. In India, though, there is great emphasis on adapting. “I wouldn’t dismiss adaptability as a failure, it’s a virtue in an unpredictable world,” he said.
Among other Indian traits and differences was Indians’ inclination to be formal with seniors and authority. Dr Sumantran said he was “against an unnecessary use of power and seniority because it dampens frank communication.”
McIntyre assumed a more forgiving stance of common Indian foibles such as asking personal questions – her travels across the world had revealed that India was not alone when it came to such traits. For instance, she recalls being asked her age and her marital status by a taxi driver in Azerbaijan. She was put through a similar line of questioning in Turkey as well.
All in all, the consensus was that today’s world is far more accepting of multiculturalism and is not looking for one to reform.
The book aims to provide practical tips to enhance communication between Indian managers working with expatriates or in global workplace. Through anecdotes, it tells readers how to deal with real-life situations, running the gamut from dress sense and firm handshakes to meeting deadlines and expectations.