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Who Brings the Cake? And Other International Lessons

April 6, 2018
“One of my biggest ‘cultural bloopers,’ I like to call them, is in Germany when there’s a big event, the person who is being celebrated brings the celebratory cake. Whereas in the U.S., a cake is usually brought by the family, friends, colleagues who are celebrating the person.… So it’s the last day of my assignment, and everyone on the team is looking at each other like, ‘who brought the cake?’” Caroline Aneskievich joked on March 22 during a panel discussion at Ten at the Top’s the PIQUE.

Upstate SC Global Leadership Panelists

Aneskievich was one of four participants in the Global Leadership in the Upstate panel, sponsored by the Upstate SC Alliance. Its goal was to raise awareness for our region’s deep global connections among the 250 young professionals in attendance at the half-day summit. 
The panel was moderated by Morgan Crapps, Special Counsel for Nexsen Pruet and Global Competitiveness Council Steering Group Member.
The four panelists offered real life advice to young professionals who are navigating life and careers within the very international Upstate. Here’s what they had to say:
  • If you want a unique Denny’s experience, try the ones around the world. Gabe Montauti, International Culinary Project Manager for Spartanburg-headquartered Denny’s, talked about the importance of respecting the cultures of the new countries in which Denny’s establishes a presence. In keeping with that practice and responding to supply chain challenges in reaching the island nation, all the ingredients at Denny’s in the Philippines are locally sourced and many menu items are made from scratch.
  • “If we can do it, you can do it,” was Nicole Johnson’s advice about exporting. Johnson is co-owner of Greenville-based Boyd Cycling with her husband. Founded in 2009 Johnson’s small business increased its sales by exporting their bicycle wheels internationally. She was able to navigate language, shipping, and taxation challenges using resources like the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
  • The state boasts $32 billion in exports annually. Anita Patel, Trade Manager with the South Carolina Department of Commerce, said building bonds with companies and watching them sell their products to the world is the best part of her job. Patel and her team serve as a free resource that connects South Carolina companies to overseas markets, with assistance offered in the form of trainings, grants, research and Mission Trip opportunities. 
  • The world is at your fingertips. Literally. For young professionals looking to start a career with a global company, Caroline Aneskievich, Human Resource Planning Analyst for BMW Manufacturing Co., urged them to start immersing themselves in new cultures through travel and technology. Listening to music from other countries, looking at photos and maps online, and utilizing language learning apps are all ways to invest in yourself.
  • Find a mentor. Montauti encouraged young professionals to look for someone doing a job they want to do, and seek his or her mentorship.
  • Upstate SC Global Leadership Panelists Pose at the PIQUEUnlimited refills, ice in drinks, and year-round American flag apparel. These practices, which are so common in America, can surprise visitors from other countries, Aneskievich said. Just because something is different, does not mean it is weird – that’s an idea each panelist shared. Each panelist encouraged young professionals to be respectful of other cultures, seek opportunities to have new experiences, and be open to learning which American practices are not the norm in other countries. 
International companies choose to locate to the Upstate due to our proximity to interstates, airports, and the ports, as well as our quality of life and low cost of doing business. As foreign-direct investment in the region grows, an increasing number of young professionals will find themselves working for a company that conducts business on a global scale, putting lessons like these to work. 

And if you find yourself in Germany on your birthday, don’t forget to bring the cake.
TOPICS: Upstate Thoughts, Skilled Workforce, International, Global Competitiveness