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Do you want to unlock the secret for a successful career with an international organization?

“Set your targets and go for it. Don’t wait for luck to happen.”

That advice comes from Udi Chatow ’05, strategy manager for education solutions at Hewlett-Packard. Chatow was one of four panelists who spoke at Kellogg’s Executive MBA Global Network Week on August 12. In addition to speaking about their individual career paths, the speakers offered five tips on how to succeed in a global career. 

1. Balance Localization with Consistent Branding

After four years at Hershey´s Brazil, Isabel Masagão ’10 joined the International Hershey team looking to expand into new markets, including Russia, which has the highest per capita chocolate consumption in the world.

“The big challenge was that we knew nothing about Russians, about their habits, their customs, their culture, their needs,” Masagão said. “How could we bring [the Hershey brand] to Russia in a way that was consistent and at the same time relevant to consumers?”

After more than a year of research about the Russian consumer, Masagão’s team developed an entry strategy with a dedicated portfolio addressing consumer needs, focusing on exclusivity as well as sharing and gifting.

2. Leverage Local Talent

Njideka Harry ’12 founded Youth for Technology (YTF) in 2000 following a globe-spanning career at GE and Microsoft. Based in Louisville, KY, YTF is an international non-profit that partners with low-income communities to improve educational opportunities for youth and women so they can help solve local problems.

The program began in Nigeria, and after four years of burgeoning success there, Harry developed a unique “social franchise” growth model that capitalizes on local knowledge. “These leaders are local – they are hired from the community we are working in, speak the local language and know the culture,” said Harry. “They are in the best position to advise on what concrete needs exist most in these communities.”

This method of establishing local buy-in from the beginning allowed Harry to expand throughout Africa and Latin America, where she has impacted 1.4 million individuals and inspired 2,671 businesses.

3. Negotiate for the Win-Win

Chatow was a successful research and development professional for years before graduating from Kellogg and shifting his focus to management. His education helped him develop the negotiation skills he would later use while managing a wide spectrum of partners in his role at Hewlett-Packard.

“How do you overcome understanding the drivers of the customer and the cultural and local differences?” Chatow asked. “Negotiate for a mutual win. That will create the long-term relationship.”

4. Retain Firm Values

While expanding into new African markets, Harry has often been met with difficult ethical dilemmas. In one instance, she had to determine whether it was worth paying a bribe to collect a cargo of books and technology. “You have to make a decision,” Harry said. “All the great opportunities are not always great opportunities if they don’t align with your values.”

5. “Speak less. Hear more.”

A common thread among the panelists was the importance of ridding yourself of arrogance and prejudgments, especially when considering market expansion.

Eric Leininger is the Executive Director of the Kellogg Chief Marketing Officer Program and has been an affiliated faculty member at Kellogg since 1997. Leininger joined Kellogg’s full-time faculty in 2010 after six years as corporate senior vice president at McDonald’s Corporation. He reflected on a particular incident that revealed how many cultural nuances he could have potentially been ignoring. “A person from [a local team] was from Taipei, had worked throughout Southeast Asia, and moved to work in Shanghai. She had been there for about two weeks and I said to her, ‘Before you’re there too long, what was your biggest surprise?’ You know what she said to me? ‘I can’t believe how different it is.’ That amazed me. It was a moment of humility for me because I thought, ‘If she feels that way, this is just another recognition of what I don’t understand.’ ”


What are your tips for succeeding in an international career? Share your advice in the comments below!