While a single challenging incident in a cross-cultural setting does not come to mind, I have had many experiences with people from different traditions and backgrounds all through my life. On a personal level – dealing with different cultural norms, languages and traditions on a daily basis has become second nature to me and an intrinsic part of my personality. India is an amalgamation and a macrocosm of sub-cultures with multiple languages, customs, religions, food, music and art. I grew up in a Gujarati speaking family residing in a Tamil speaking state in a country whose national language is Hindi. All of my immediate relatives lived overseas – Singapore (where my mother grew up) and USA, and both countries I have visited growing up. While I would be celebrating the Indian festival Diwali in India, my cousin would be preparing for Thanksgiving and Christmas in Connecticut, USA. As a professional at Cognizant Technology Solutions, I have worked with international clients from the United Kingdom and USA. Understanding and accepting cultural differences is vital to any multinational corporation, particularly in a service-based industry. An incomplete perception of the prevailing norms can create misunderstanding and conflict that can invariably result in huge direct and indirect costs to the organization.
Living and working in a multi-cultural surrounding everyday demands a level of understanding and acceptance. At the same time, especially in a professional environment, we are required to make decisions and choices that need to take into account an individual’s custom. At Cognizant Technology Solutions, as a content and design services programmer I instinctively learnt how to identify different clients’ needs and more importantly understand that the needs are varied. Exposure to projects in various domains like healthcare, insurance, banking and financial services has given me valuable insight into the environment in which companies operate. Presently, as a student of International Business at Loyola Institute of Business Administration (LIBA), I have better awareness of globalization and the importance of global perspective in today’s world. In addition to an overall understanding, it has been a fascinating journey delving into global marketing strategies, import and export management and international economics in relation to geopolitics.
The program involves classroom studies as well as projects in collaboration with companies – giving us an opportunity to work with real situations. Amongst others, one team exercise was to develop from scratch an international expansion plan for a local Indian company that had no international presence. Determining the feasibility for expansion, taking into account the work culture and customized requirements of the international market was a part of this exercise and once completed, we presented to a panel of colleagues, faculty and industry and discussed the pros and cons of the solutions. Through these unique experiences in my personal and professional life, I have developed a deep understanding and appreciation for diversity in my surroundings. While my experiences have given me a respectable insight of globalization, I believe I have much more to learn and am eager to expand my horizons to new experiences.