Tiger Webinar: Women's Influence in International Business

>> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Today’s webinar is titled Women’s Influence in International Business Our presenter is Aiyana Mathews, a 2004 RIT alumna from the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences and founder and owner of Gardner Mathews, an international business development and global travel consultancy Aiyana’s frequent exploration of the road less traveled has nurtured her natural affinity for intercultural exchange, foreign languages and business acumen She incorporates this unique skill set, along with her extensive global experiences, into the operation of Gardner Mathews Aiyana received her Bachelor of Science from RIT with a minor in Spanish and Latin American Literature In 1999, she completed a research study at Chiba University in the Faculty of Engineering After launching her career in the US, she returned to Japan in 2007 to work for the Japanese government spreading inter culturalization In 2009, she was selected to be co Director of the 2010 Miyagi Art & Culture Show, a large, regional art exhibit in Sendai City She began hosting monthly cultural events and she gained popularity through an online TV show called OnegaiLIVE In 2010, Aiyana received a National Award for a fusion work of Japanese & African art and her piece was on display at the National Kokeshi Museum in Naruko for one year During her journey, Aiyana’s indubitable ability to foster relationships, structure teams and coordinate unique projects has made her a dynamic asset to both the private sector and non profit world Aiyana, thank you for joining us today, and please take it away >> AIYANA MATHEWS: Thank you so much, and thank you all, everybody, for joining in I just want to do a sound check and make sure that I’m audible >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: We can hear you Everyone else out there? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: All right Great So, hi, everybody, and thank you so much for tuning in The topic is a compilation of my experiences both personal encounters and observants of some incredible women I’ve encountered over the years The importance to speak on this topic is founded in these primary elements, the first being desire Growing up as an American in the typical middle class household to American parents, I’ve always had a desire to explore the international communities, foreign language, and culture I was fortunate to have supportive parents and grew up in a city which made accessing international communities relatively easy The second element would be knowledge Knowledge is power If you know what’s essential for putting yourself in a better position, then can you set forth to accomplish goals Many of us who elected to pursue a degree at RIT took into consideration the knowledge or good education we would receive from a prestigious Institute of Technology, and thus positioning ourselves to pursue our career goals The third of those is application It’s understanding how to apply that knowledge and leveraging information that makes us Application is what builds experience, and experience is what helps us become an authority in the field Sometimes I’ve noted that the desire can be fueled from knowledge and application I, myself, am an entrepreneur, I launched Gardener Mathews, a travel consultancy that specializes in customized itineraries for three sectors of travel, accessible base travel, leisure travel, and corporate travel I expended the corporate aspect of the business and developed another business which supports international business development and providing business match making services I did research at Chiba University which turned out to be the catalyst of a 17 year relationship that I would have with Japan, Japanese people, and Japanese business My understanding of international business and exchange has taken place over the same period of time in many of the markets I plan to delve more into those experiences throughout the presentation Now, I would like for us to have a look at our discussion ahead according to our outline I really hope and encourage and would like for this to be as interactive as possible Please send us your questions, and with our wonderful moderator’s assistance, I will strive to answer the questions in realtime And also, please note, there are a couple of poll questions that I would appreciate your participation in Speaking of which, a couple of our polls should be displaying right now

We’ll come back and if there is time we’ll share the results later on Let’s get started So, in the U.S. there is an emphasis placed on understanding the market and competition You see that listed as a bullet point of number one and five However, being savvy in global business, I have heard from women and myself included, that by incorporating the three center points of functionality, an understanding of how people function or relate in that part of the world, needs, which is an understanding of what the decision maker wants and what the influencers of those entities that you’re engaging with need As well as trends, fueling yourself with global business trends found in local magazines, local journals, and of course social media is really important For example, when I often check to find out what’s trending in business conversations in Japan, I tune into TED Talks taking place in Japan Performing searches in Google using the country’s exchange is a great way to expand your search An example of that is Google.CL which is Google Chile Another one is the popular chat apps of that region An example of that and something which I use for my own personal use is Line Line is very popular in Asia and Latin America By incorporating these types of applications, it will help you stay connected in the same way the locals do Now, we’ll review the cosmopolitan outlook, and in this case, I mean worldwide scope The points of region, culture and history and geography and psychology are often interwoven Nevertheless, women have an inept ability to understand these intricacies I strongly believe it’s what makes doing business on an international playing field so rewarding and very fulfilling for women because when you’re sitting across the table from someone who is from thousands of miles away and you have the ability to click with them based on your understanding of these points, you’ve cleared a major hurdle The most popular method of connecting I’ve found is through avid reading and direct personal engagement I’ve gained a wealth of understanding about Latin America through my Latin American studies and our Latin American literature by reading works of authors from varying countries and improving upon my Spanish speaking abilities, prompted my travel to many of the countries in that region, and I wanted to learn more When I arrived, I talked to people, I learned, and I became connected with the locals and the long term expats In the areas of political and economic instability, women tend to take a closer look for the consideration of their safety, so following elections and keeping an ear to the ground of possible civil unrest is very important As I mentioned in a few slides back, women have an inept ability to understand the sum total of a person’s background This is the foundation of their ability to communicate effectively cross culturally Scientifically, you know, there has been talks of this process, the way that women communicate, for example, men think in boxes and women think in boxes and then wires are connected to them And so having an understanding of, you know, what stimulates and what can inspire a thought process or an idea through those interconnected ideas is what makes cross communication so essential for us The greater number of women who hold positions in marketing and communications, journalism

and sales, should be seen as a key indicator for this ability So, you may ask yourself, why is this even important? Well, in emerging markets, such as African nations, Nigeria, South Africa, and business is booming in Brazil, business is founded on relationship That means the most essential part of the business encounters and those initial meetings are going to be spent having a significant amount of time focusing on personal affairs, such as your family, you know, do you have any kids, where are you from, your background, you know, some questions about religion, and hobbies These types of discussions could very well last up to three days depending on the market, and since women are seen as organic engagers and natural connectors, there are some advantages for women to enter and influence these markets because of that Each of these markets, however, need to be evaluated independently and with respect to the industries There we go So, our next slide is highlighting women’s excellent ability to network We’re just really great at it Men are too, but women who are successful in international business, they understand that they must place an important highlight and they must invest in their social capital Applying this investment will include having contacts and vertical and lateral positions, and because women are quite resourceful, be which is great for networking, many women are already connected to multiple industries outside of the one which they work in It’s been my experience that if you show up to three or four three or more international business chamber events, people will start to recognize you, and if you are foreign you will stand out which makes you that much easier to remember But what makes you worth knowing? Better yet, what makes you worth introducing you to someone else in the group, is based on the information you elect to share about who you are, what you do, and something that’s really, really unique about your skill set So networking in global business is a beneficial use of your time and effort in growing Leveraging contacts to make introductions is very important Let’s examine the Japanese market for example, where the culture of introductions is essential You would be far more effective connecting with someone from within the organization and having that person connect you to key people in the community, or in this case, the business community and also inviting you to join in a future relevant event Okay, so self assurance, so women in the global market as it applies to self assurance, yeah, they feel good When you feel good that definitely boosts self confidence and they also feel that it’s okay It’s okay to use humor to engage Women in the global market, they feel that their ideas are supported, which sparks more risk taking They feel more comfortable thinking outside the box, going through methods and channels through non traditional business as usual ways, and they often times feel more energized and less drained This is a better work/life balance and less stress being compared to a male counterpart as can be seen or which happens often times here in the United States So before we go to the next slide, here is our final poll that is part of the research that I’m doing, and that question should ask, which market do you think is more fragmentally?

There we go So we have our three choices here, one being Switzerland, the second being South Africa, and the third one being Singapore All right Well, if you answered South Africa, you are correct South Africa is one of the BRICS nations which includes Brazil, Russia, India, and China These BRICS nations exceed 30% compared to the 20% in the G7 nations that are women friendly Interesting enough, according to the 2017 Grant Thornton Women in Business Report, Russia ranks in the top spot globally with 47% of senior roles occupied by women, which is incredible The United States comes in on a list of number 15, ranks at number 15 with 42.7% of women in managerial positions And if we look at the international markets from a European standpoint, we see that Turkey ranks very high in comparison to its EU nations or boarder countries with 12% of their women being chief executives Now, what I like to do is compare US challenges to global advantages In the U.S. the challenges, we continue to see women underrepresented in the STEM field, mathematics, science, a lot of the heavy technology, aviation, aerospace, and we also continue to see some common practices of women inequality and pay discrimination The global advantages, we see women who are being heard and having their ideas implemented That’s, you know, I’ve heard women say often, you know, I feel more respected because, you know, not only were my ideas brought to the meeting room or the board room, but they were also implemented into business practices, so it’s really important On one of the global another global advantage is women feel valued for the work experience and apply those experiences in the foreign market They see that they’re competing for level salaries, and there is also a sense of achieving both personal and professional growth as well as growing their professional network Other advantages, which are called cultural, is a greater sense of trust Often times just by showing up and being from another country, again, depending on the market and the industry, there is a natural trust that is bestowed to the women, and then one thing that I find very interesting is that accents can often work in one’s favor, too So now I’ll talk a little bit about how all of this can be applied in the real world So overall, it is necessary to be well versed in your industry, and you must have a solid network which becomes something like your personal book of business Organizations strongly consider candidates for their connections and their influence as well as their knowledge base My experience in working in a global capacity for nearly two decades now, the key has been proficiency in a foreign language or foreign languages, particularly when involved in business development It helps make you relatable to the people in the market, they can connect to you simply

because you took the time out to learn their language That’s really important to these emerging markets and working overseas Also, having proficiency in the language keeps the locals honest during certain discussions or side conversations because they know that you understand what they’re saying Also another skill, so to speak in some air quotes, is showing up and being ready Being ready to be a player or to lead Showing up, showing your interests, and being a part of that environment I am delighted to know other women with rather impressive resumes It’s been an honor, actually, to align myself with a lot of these ladies who have excelled in various fields such as nuclear engineering I have another woman, a business acquaintance who is doing international business law and living in Japan And then there are senior executives in areas of finance, you know, global wealth management and in the aviation and aerospace industries They have established themselves as influencers and are making significant impacts on a global scale Before I launched my business, I had always worked with companies which had international presence My impression was I would grow into these positions that would place me in an overseas assignment It wasn’t until I applied for oh, I think I’m sorry It wasn’t until I applied for a position directly with the foreign government, the foreign Japanese government that I went to work overseas Fortunately, that country was Japan and I was already familiar because as you recall, I lived there as a student, as a research scholar at Chiba, but this time I was in Japan in a different capacity It was a work capacity We know there is a difference when you live in a place as a student versus working there, so my interactions were different because my focus was different, and I recall people, you know, Japanese nationals in this particular instance, extending a certain type of respect to me because they saw me as someone that could make things happen, that could make impact, that could do something to help them And so because of my unique background, it has definitely qualified me to be a part of some incredible projects I’ve supported foreign companies based here in the United States, and I’ve often consulted with U.S. companies and their international endeavors, such as global business expansion, or if they’re wanting to do licensing or looking for licensing partners, or you know, and I shouldn’t say something as simple as, but even understanding international business etiquette of the region, I’ve been able to assist the U.S. companies with that Common factors I have encountered with international business is the lack of confidence in communicating, and I’m not saying the lack of ability, but just being comfortable Well, they’re from this place and we’re from this place, and so there is a sense of discomfort there Fortunately for me, people feel at ease sharing their challenges, not judging them, I’m approaching them from a position of how can I help you, how I can support you, and then so also asking questions to find out what is the desire to the outcome of that company Because of their willingness to be very open with me, I make it my business to be very discrete and to take care of their confidential information As a result, I’ve earned trust with very important people across many, many industries If I had to summarize my strengths, I would say it would be my ability to network I rather enjoy it And to manage projects, project management with an emphasis on logistics and of course budgeting, and also being creative I’ve been quite privileged to join in powerful meetings with decision makers from overseas markets who have actually sought out my abilities, they’ve implemented my ideas, and they’ve valued me as an influencer in global business You know, almost considering me as a true partner to them, and I have been really fortunate

So as we close out the presentation, there we go so as we close out the presentation or my end of the presentation, I like to leave with a note of reality, inspiration, and encouragement I’m in no way saying that if you’re a woman and you seek to improve your career, just go run overseas and it’s going to be a cake walk I’m not saying that at all Like in the U.S., there are many countries, many nations which are working to balance the delicate form of tradition versus progress, and overall let’s face it, it’s business so there are going to be challenges anyway But what I am saying is to be prepared, understand your value, and do not be afraid Don’t be afraid to go out there Don’t be afraid that, you know, at the time an unknown territory or some place that’s far You’re going to be fine, and so sure it’s going to take time to involve yourself and to get connected and to know where the possibilities that lie for you as an individual woman on the international playing field, but these markets are actively seeking us out They’re looking for us, so there is no need to limit the application of your skill set to one region when you have the entire world to consider Even if you take into consideration that there are 72 English speaking countries in the world You know, I said earlier about being proficient in a foreign language, but there are 72 other options where English is the primary form of communication for business as an official language, so that’s great I would suggest that you can start off by connecting with international business communities right on your home turf Surely there could be or should be various consulate offices, I mentioned before international business chambers, they host a lot of events and it’s perfect It’s great for networking and to allow yourself a platform to introduce yourself and to learn And you know, you should definitely consider these resources of the international community Should I answer the questions now? >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: A couple have started could come in It’s up to you, Aiyana, you can continue or answer the questions now if you wish >> AIYANA MATHEWS: I’m very much close to the end so let me just wrap this up and then I’ll go into the questions if that’s okay with everybody Thank you so much So, my point was, you know, when you’re seeking out the international community on your home turf and then you expand to, you know, taking those trips and you know, utilizing for example, RIT, we have alumni chapters overseas If you’re involved in professional organizations, Rotary As an example, you can use those as springboard to build upon your international global network, and so through these interactions, who knows, it could very well lead to numerous internationally inspired possibilities And so in closing, if you’re interested in learning more about me and my company, feel free to send me an email It’s Aiyana@gardener mathews.com and I’d be happy to share a list of services and an overview of the scope of work that we provide and our existing partnerships as well as my full biography You can just simply reference the meRIT webinar and the subject heading I really, really hope that you found this to be informative, and so I’m going to go ahead and take a couple of questions and then I’ll come back All right, so how do I even access it? >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: So I’ll read them for you So there is a question from Marie, do women build their global network differently than men? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: Yes The answer is yes Again, this is from my observation and I polled some of the women who live and work oversea, long term expats, is that they tend to stay within their industries If they’re in the automobile industry, for example, they will network with those people either just strictly in the company that they work, and you rarely find them expanding across different industries And like I mentioned before, from a lateral and vertical position, so knowing different kinds or type it’s of people within the organization and then knowing people in different industries

is very helpful when you’re traveling overseas because most of them most of the people in the global market, they’ve got tons of people that they’re connected to, either somebody they went to school with that’s currently a president in the IT field and you need some connection in IT, or they themselves are in the medical field but they know someone who is in construction because they understand themselves and that is very important, so women naturally function this way We naturally look for different types of people You know, it’s just something that we do, and men tend to stay in not so much, so the short answer is yes, and that’s the reason why >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Okay There is another question from Dawn, do you have any advice on how to identify a mentor who could provide the relevant insights necessary to be successful in business on a global stage? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: My answer to that, Dawn, is you should seek out several mentors, and the reason why I say that is again, leveraging their contacts, and I would say one mentor should definitely be within the field of study that you are pursuing or desire to pursue They need to be very well connected, so you might actually want to vet them before, you know, just assigning a mentor and making sure you establish good accountability, and more about your responsibility, that you’re having frequent meeting, that you’re attending certain networking events with them so that they are now introducing you to that community of the industry, or for those industries, and I would say find somebody who has lived in that country as well as finding somebody who is from that country So I believe in keeping things, you know, very having multiple connections in order to and I apply this even from learning a foreign language, that if you only speak to somebody who is very fluent in that foreign language, you could tend to not learn or utilize your language skills, and so the same thing can be said about a mentor You want to leverage the network, leverage your interactions, and definitely, you know, seek somebody who is a national of the country you want to go to as well as somebody who is a local or the same as you quote unquote >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Okay You mentioned that South Africa was very woman friendly, but what countries are the least women friendly and what advice would you have on how to be successful in those types of adverse conditions when your job demands it? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: I’m sorry Can you repeat that question? Which countries are least women friendly? >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: You mentioned that South Africa was very women friendly, but what countries are on your list of least women friendly, and what advice would you have if your job demanded that you actually have to be conducting business in those less women friendly locations? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: So, I actually have a link Let me see I was looking at that’s a great question I was looking at some statistics two days ago, and coincidentally, but not so much so, there are a lot of nations that popped up in the Middle East I’ve traveled to the Middle East numerous times, and so my answer is the Middle East is listed, a lot of those nations are listed as the least women friendly, but they are undergoing some aggressive changes to remove what is considered traditions, right, in order to welcome their women They’re qualified, these women are smart, they’re educated, and they recognize that they’re needed in the workforce, and so but as far as if you’re required to go to a nation that’s not so woman friendly, you just have to use good sense Be strong, have an understanding that maybe they’re not happy to see you come I mean, not everybody is happy to see you come, but that’s why having certain knowledge of current events, in a lot of countries it’s sports, if you can talk about sports, I’m not really a big sports person but I’ll at least say what’s going on with blah, blah, blah soccer team? And then just building a network, and if you know in advance you’re going to be there,

I already connect with somebody on LinkedIn or through your preferred social media platforms and make a friend so that when you arrive you don’t feel so alienated and don’t feel so alone like oh, my God I’m not comfortable That will help a lot You know, I started to answer when I was talking about my experience in the Middle East I have been a part of some discussions and meetings that, you know, with guys, Arab nations, here I am an American, I’m not covered and things like that, and I really had no problem So but what I’ve done throughout my life and my career is that, yes, you want to be smart, you want to read those advisories, you want to read these things, but at the end of the day, it’s you, you as a person, and you know how you’re able to communicate and connect will really help melt some of those initial walls that are put up, and that will be your key to success >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: And then you mentioned a link If you find that, you could send it to me and we can include it in your follow up email That would be great >> AIYANA MATHEWS: Yeah All right Great No problem >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Let’s see This attendee writes, I’ve always thought that using humor is not recommended when engaging with others from different cultures You mention it as something that would be helpful, is this a more recent shift in thinking around using humor in business outside the U.S.? >> AIYANA MATHEWS: Yes The answer to that question is yes, and you also see that I’m mentioning about what are considered emerging markets I think in the past when we’ve looked at the Western markets, Europe, Australia, North America, yeah, you know, the sentiment is if you’re going in, and I’m not if you go in and you crack a joke, you’re not going to be taken serious Whereas, in the other markets they have a different mindset, and if you go in too stiff, people are going to think what’s the problem And then you inadvertently make the room or the meeting or the people around you uncomfortable A little bit of humor, it’s okay to smile and be relaxed, and because this is a different group we’re going into, my initial encounters into international business has changed significantly over the past 20 years I’ve seen a change even with women, you know, which is what prompted this webinar, entering certain roles and traveling overseas and being in both position, and yes there has been a change, and I’m very happy to say that we’re seeing a positive change and that we can be a part of that change right now >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Okay It looks like there is one remaining question from Marina >> AIYANA MATHEWS: Hi, Marina >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Are you seeing the Me-Too concerns escalates outside of the United States, and where do you feel there are less Me-Too issue related and concerns >> AIYANA MATHEWS: So, no, I have not actively been following the Me Too Campaign, and that’s a delicate question And what I can say is the point of the presentation is to highlight or what I’m highlighting is me as an American woman, and I’m going overseas and the message is that I’m automatically elevated than even a local women So of course, again, that brings about a different discussion, call it discrimination, but as an American woman seeking a feature opportunity or opportunities in international business, it exists But are there still discrimination and inequalities for the local women? Yes, and they choose to battle that on their own, but as far as going all out to a Me Too Campaign, I have not seen that anywhere >> CINDY SOBIERAJ: Okay That’s fair Great It doesn’t look like we have any further questions However, if those of you on the line come up with something that you would like to pose to Aiyana, please feel free to send those to us You can email them to RITalum@rit.edu or tweeted to @RIT_Alumni with the hashtag #meRITwebinars and we will direct your questions to the Aiyana Note that all participants will receive an email from us in the next few days with a

link to today’s webinar recording Thanks again to our wonderful presenter today And thanks to all of our listeners for participating in today’s webinar Please consider joining us on Wednesday, April 18 for Attracting, Hiring and Retaining People: The gift that keeps on giving to your business with alumnus, Brian Haynes, a 30 year veteran of the National Security Agency In this webinar, Mr. Haynes will offer a lively discussion of each of the phases of attracting, hiring and retaining Employees can be applied to you in your workplace Look for that email shortly Thank you for joining us and thank you to Aiyana Please exit by closing the window and please let us know what you thought about the webinar today by taking the brief and anonymous survey that will pop up when you exit Thanks again everyone and have a great day!