“You cannot produce a product and assume that it can be shipped everywhere in the world and succeed,” Bhaskar Pant, Executive Director of MIT Professional Education, observes. “Is it tuned to that specific market? Are the features sensitive (to the local population)? How is that product used in India versus in Japan versus the United States?”.
The intercultural mind behind the Cultural Awareness for Global Business program, Bhaskar learned from an early age how to navigate expectations across very different cultural worlds. Born in Southern Africa, he was eager to understand the racial lines that divided life and people in his home country. He would later move to the United Kingdom to continue his high school education, and then to the United States, where he attended an engineering program at the University of Rochester thanks to an international scholarship.
“I was culturally curious and culturally aware right from the get-go because I had a multicultural background,” he says. “But I also lived in a place which had multiple cultures and were, in a way, kept separate.”
Working across multiple countries, languages, and industries throughout his professional career, Bhaskar has a keen awareness for the cultural sensitivities that can affect a business professional or a company – for better or for worse. In this webinar, he explains how his journey brought him to MIT in addition to his educating-the-world mission as the Executive Director of MIT Professional Education. The lively, transformational program Bhaskar is currently leading, Cultural Awareness for Global Business, is presented in five languages.
In this webinar, Bhaskar discusses how, now that we are living in a time where the topics of race, culture, and religion come up constantly in the workplace, understanding colleagues and counterparts is especially critical. Bhaskar delves into the dimensions of culture, explores the connection between language and culture, explains the five stages of cultural awareness, and tells us how diversity, if handled correctly, can foster innovation and improve an organization’s performance.
“Most professionals look at things and actions from an ethnocentric point of view,” he says. “It means that you view others from your own perspective, and you consider your culture as the reference point (to measure others).”
Listen to the podcast, or watch the webinar at the link below, for Bhaskar Pant’s full interview on Cultural Lessons from a Multicultural Life Journey.