Culture Moments Podcast: Around the World in 20 Years with Patricia Glasel of TransPerfect

Podcast cover photo of Patricia Glasel

Today, we continue our Around the World in 20 Years journey with Patricia Glasel, Global Training Director at TransPerfect. Born in Africa with roots in France and the West Indies, Patricia’s career has spanned 11 countries. When she came to the US to study at Northwestern University, she met LCW’s founders and began working with them on some critical projects for companies like Danon, Schneider, and Airbus –  learning the ropes of cross-cultural management and training along the way.

It’s interesting to hear Patricia describe how global cross-cultural management and DEI have shifted in her experience working in Europe. If you want to build greater global competency into your work,  you’ll really appreciate Patricia’s insights in this conversation.

Listen to the conversation below (Run time – 14:48) or scroll down for the full transcript. 

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Show Notes & Highlights

3:47: How Patricia’s global career brought her to LCW and cross-cultural management

6:00: Challenging European perceptions about cross-cultural training

9:11: The positive impacts of virtual training.

11:08: Why intercultural competence is a critical component of DEI, especially for the younger generation


Show Transcript

Tanya Stanfield:

Well, Patricia, thank you so much for joining us today.

Patricia Glasel:

My pleasure, Tanya.

Tanya Stanfield:

I love starting out these conversations by just learning a little bit more about you and your journey into this field.

Patricia Glasel:

Okay. I was born in the cross-cultural environment because, actually, I was born in Africa with a dad from France and a mother from West Indies, and I lived there the first 15 years of my life in many different countries. And then I was passionate about, moving from a place to another understanding people, but at that time, I didn’t know that it was all about cultures.

But I could see that there were so many changes, different perspectives, different ways of living, of envisioning your life and your goals, that I became pretty sensitive to that. Actually, first, when I came back to my country, which is France, and when I realized that there was such a big gap with the African life in a way that I have lived as an expatriate. So, that’s where I began to have a few questions in my mind, wondering why that was so different. And then after studying a MBA, I spent one year in Asia, and this was, again, a new discovery, and at the end, lived in 11 countries. So, that’s where I realized that there were many things to be said about living, working, interacting with different cultures.

But I must say that it is when I arrived in the US that joining Northwestern University for studying more in-depth, psychology and organizational behaviors that my teachers actually told me, ‘you should study cross-cultural management, and that’s where I discovered that field, and I became immediately passionate about it.

Tanya Stanfield:

That’s wonderful. So, when did you first begin working with LCW on your journey?

Patricia Glasel:

So, it was at that time, actually, because while studying at Northwestern, I really wanted to discover what was done with the industrial environment and the business, and that’s when I met Monica and Randy for the first time. At that time, they were just launching their business.

It was only the two of them, and they really welcomed me. The thing which is coming back to my mind is two people, bright people, eager to open their mind, eager to understand better the global environment. I love the way that they wanted to think out of the box and were brave in a way, because at that time it was not a very common field.

And they were brave enough to welcome me too as a trainee in a way. So, that’s when I first met LCW.

Tanya Stanfield:

Are there any stories or highlights from your time working with them that you would like to share?

Patricia Glasel:

They gave me that opportunity that I still have in my mind to conduct a survey for a pharmaceutical company and understand why there was such a different turnover in the way American MD will offer medicine to the people who were visiting them, and they were eager to have the latest medicine. Whereas European or Indian MD working in the US would not prescribe the latest medicine.

So, I still have that in my mind, and you can imagine, with the current situation and the COVID, this, I keep having that in my mind, and it was a fascinating study and survey and a little bit of a challenge for me, but very interesting. And I keep having it in my mind.

Tanya Stanfield:

Sounds very interesting. So, let’s shift gears a little bit to this year 2020, where there’s been so much change. How do you think this field has shifted or changed even since you entered it, a couple of decades ago?

Patricia Glasel:

Yes. It is a kind of different story because it has really changed since I entered the field. I cannot speak about the US, but after a few years, I came back to France. It was, so, I first met LCW in 2000, then came back in France in 2003. At that time, I still remember when I would speak to any organization, HR team, a leadership executive, and I would speak to them about cross-cultural environment, cross-cultural training, they would tell me, ‘what, we don’t need it. It is good for the American people because they don’t get out of their country, and they don’t understand what it is to be culturally sensitive, but we understand it’. And I was like, “Hmm,” so the big victory was to see that in a few years. Most of the bigger companies like Schneider, Dannon, Airbus, became extremely sensitive to that field, and I had the opportunity to sign a huge contract with those companies. So, this was a big, big shift, and which is still going on. And after cultural training, we implemented a diversity and inclusion global leadership, and they really took it very seriously, and it became part of their leadership training and international executive and so on.

Now, you are speaking of the current situation. I would say that I believe and that what has really changed now is the way we deliver the training. Most of the people before it would say, ‘I need to be face to face’, ‘I need to meet the trainer’, or even for the trainer, ‘I need to feel my trainees’.

Now, it has really changed, and I believe myself that even I feared it because I remember having – I’m still, today, delivering courses for MBA. And I had those, 30-45 people in a classroom, and I was just wondering how I would manage it because I’m used to doing play role case studies.

Everybody has to share their own experience, and I was just wondering how it would work. I am proud to say that it works so well, and I see the shift in that support, actually, how we deliver, which will allow us to deliver much more training and everywhere, actually.

Tanya Stanfield:

That’s, that’s spot on, and I think LCW had that same experience. We did so much of our training on site. We have been doing some virtual training for many years, but we had to make that shift, and we are finding that you have to tweak things a little bit. You have to make some adjustments, but the learning is just as impactful.

Patricia Glasel:

Absolutely, and actually, I even found that you concentrate more on each of your trainees. You have all those tools that you can use, polls and so-on, which allow everybody to feel that they are part of what is delivered. I actually wrote an article about it because I love it. I love it. I’m not saying that I’m not looking for having people around me again, but I think having those – opening our way of delivering and having to do it with no choice was actually a blessing.

Tanya Stanfield:

Yeah, I agree 100%. So, what do you think or hope this field will look like? We just talked about the past 20 years. What do you think or hope this field will look like even 20 years from now?

Patricia Glasel:

I have noticed that the shift that we implement in the people’s mind when we deliver a training is crucial. Crucial for understanding other ways of envisioning the worlds of working, and for me, that field should be applied, not only among different culture, but if we consider also that each person has its own culture, I would, I would say I would love cross-cultural training to be taught at school for the young people so that they could understand that the unique way of perceiving the world of believing that we are the one being right or wrong or whatever is an illusion.

And we need to work all together in the same direction but learning to add diversity and definitely values. I don’t want to become a full relativist. I mean, there are things which are wrong. There are things which are definitely right, perception which are wrong, but working together to open our mind and beginning much sooner than the age where we are dealing with that. Where they are already managers. So, that’s the reason why I’m pretty excited of delivering courses for students, but I would love to deliver it in a different way, maybe for much younger people. So, it should impact our society as a whole. Our societies as a whole.

Tanya Stanfield:

I agree 100%. So, the final question, is there any advice that you would give to any future practitioners in this field for them to be successful and fulfilled?

Patricia Glasel:

That’s a hard one. To be successful, I believe that we need to understand who we are, and that’s where leadership makes sense before delivering those training experience, coaching experience, whatever we call it. Being extremely open-minded that’s for sure. Curious, adaptable, and I would say always keeping in mind also the subtility of guiding without imposing, which is sometimes difficult to maintain.

Tanya Stanfield:

Yeah, I think that’s something that’s difficult for many of us. We’re so used to sort of instructing and telling what to do instead of that guidance as a more gentle process. So, I think that’s great advice.

Patricia Glasel:

Definitely.

Tanya Stanfield:

Well, Patricia, this was a wonderful conversation.

Thank you so much for taking the time. I know it’s a busy time of year, and I know LCW really appreciates your friendship all these years. So, thank you.

Patricia Glasel:

Thank you so much, and I’m, I’m very, very happy to be part, and thank you very much to the whole team and also to you, Tanya, and all my best and warmest regards to Monica and Randy.

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