A small group of BridgeEnglish Denver students recently had the opportunity to network with international executives in Boulder, Colorado, at an event hosted by the International Business Circle (IBC).
The IBC is a Denver-based group of business people who meet periodically to exchange ideas on global business trends. Most of the members have several years on average of international experience.
The theme of the meeting was Brazil and the opportunities that country offers to foreign companies. Sandeep Kalra, vice president of India’s HCL Technologies, a multi-billion dollar provider of global IT services, was the keynote speaker at the event held at a private home in Boulder.
Kalra spoke of his company’s experiences so far in Brazil where they employ 400 people in various locations across the country. All but three of those employees are Brazilians.
It was important to hire the best people, not necessarily the ones who simply spoke the best English, Kalra said. There was a very real need to be creative in approaching cross cultural problems too, he added. For example, an Indian company like HCL had to understand that the country stops for a national soccer game or for Carnival. He also spoke about the importance of misperceptions surrounding the work and political environment in Brazil.
“The perception of Brazil as an unsafe and country is not true,” he said. “It is a very enjoyable and friendly country to work in and very safe.”
One of the Brazilian Bridge students attending the event, Henrique Rangel Rodrigues, who works as a manager for global mining concern, AngloGoldAshanti, agreed with that assessment.
“People think soccer and Carnival is what Brazil is all about,” he said. “That is just a small part of it. Brazil is a great opportunity and there is a lot of talent there.”
Trying to get a group of international students to completely understand a fast speaking Indian had its challenges but most got the gist of what Kalra was saying.
“I did understand the need to work with local people,” said Takanori Saito, a systems engineer for Hitachi Information & Control Solutions Ltd. based in Ibaraki prefecture, Japan.
“I could understand the theme, just not all the details of the topics,” added Michiko Ito, a business administrator for Japan Pulp and Paper Co. Ltd. based in Nagoya, Japan.
The Boulder event was one of several BridgeEnglish Denver is involved in to expose students, many of whom are in the US to learn English at the behest of their own companies, to the themes and opportunities presented by global business trends and for them to meet people with significant international experience in an informal setting.
Richard Brown, the former director of BridgeEnglish Denver, said such events were a perfect complement to the language classes business students experience during their stays here. The events form an integral part of the school’s Executive Enrichment Program.
“This gives our business students the opportunity to go to lectures, meetings, seminars and networking events where they can experience business English, not only in the language classroom, but also first hand as it is used by native speakers,” he said. “The result is a total approach to learning English for the international business executive and a win-win situation for both our students and the American professionals they encounter, broadening mutual understanding and cultural awareness.”