Dr Roshan Boojihawon, senior lecturer in strategy and the program director for the Online MSc International Business at Birmingham Business School, has seven tips to help you on your way to becoming a strong international business manager, and thus placing you in the best possible position to lead.
Despite a supply of motivated and enthusiastic graduates, he thinks there is a lack of knowledge and awareness about how to direct that motivation and enthusiasm into leadership. On the Online MSc International Business at Birmingham Business School, students are immersed in an environment where they can become competent leaders.
Here are seven tips you need to follow to land a leadership role after graduating.
1. Think globally
Awareness is key. With an openness for an international experience and mindset, explains Roshan, comes a realization that most of international business is now virtual or online. The online masters at Birmingham places students in an environment that mimics this.
You need the ability to assimilate into the working lives and cultures of multiple countries around the world, and a willingness to work with and think like people immersed in environments other than your own.
2. Be sensitive to cultural diversity
Roshan believes sensitivity to cultural diversity is key for anyone who wants to lead in an international setting.
That doesn’t just mean sensitivity to different nationalities, but also different working cultures between organizations.
“The international business manager needs to be aware of how [they use] the differences in cultures to his advantage, or her advantage, but also to the advantage or his or her organization.
“If we take any multinational organization these days or anything like that, you have got a diverse group of employees who are not necessarily of the origin of the country in which the multinational is based.”
3. Be curious
The third tip Roshan has is be curious about what’s going on in the international business arena.
If you see an uncertain context, he says, you must have a natural curiosity or hunger to know what’s going on, to read well the source of the issue, and act accordingly.
“Not every part of the world works in the same way as we would expect. There’s a different set of local rules of the game which the manager has to respect, and work within that context.”
4. Think strategically
The manager must learn how to think strategically at the level of the global economy to push on and develop a strong career in business.
There are five questions Roshan believes all international business leaders need to ask themselves.
How do you think through a company which could be spread around the world? Where are the different parts of the business going to be? How are the different aspects of the production and manufacturing processes going to be organized? Where are the raw materials going to come from? and is this the most effective strategy?
5. Develop your patience
Learn to be patient. Time and pace may not work in the same way in every country. So, you have to understand what the constraints could be in different local markets and equip yourself with the mindset and flexibility to adapt to those local conditions.
6. Learn to communicate across boundaries
It seems obvious, but good communication is tantamount to landing a leadership role. Though you may develop strong communication skills on a business masters like the MSc International Business, this is a skill you must keep refining after you graduate.
Roshan says the ability to communicate with people across different cultures and have a sensitivity and sensibility to their language is key.
“With that comes the ability to be a good negotiator,” he adds, “or a network architect—the ability to build relationships at a local and global level.”
7. Bring charisma to the table
Last but by no means least, charisma. We’ve all seen people like politicians, business leaders, and actors, hold an audience, reel you in with their charm.
“It’s the ability to really present oneself as a leader. The self-confidence, the energy—this should naturally come out from the person as a global business manager,” says Roshan.
“Now, I know you might not find all of these traits in one person, but I think these are the idealistic traits that we, at a program level, try to bring awareness to and try to develop in a lot of ways.”