I’ve had the privilege to be involved in many aspects of international business dating back to the 1990s when I moved to Atlanta to accept an in-house legal position at the US headquarters of Hitachi Electronics. In my years at Hitachi, in addition to interacting with senior Japanese managers and other employees, I worked extensively with our factory in Tijuana, Mexico, and other international aspects of the operations. In the years since I left Hitachi and returned to private practice, I’ve had further extensive opportunities to work in cross-border transactions, including representing a large Brazilian software company that does business in the US, helping a US-based company expand its operations globally, and many more representations and clients.
One of the happy discoveries I’ve made over the years is the number of organizations here in Georgia that provide useful information and networking opportunities for those of us involved in cross-border transactions. One top-notch organization is the Japan-America Society of Georgia (www.jasgeorgia.org), which presents a variety of programs and activities that are consistently high caliber and well run. I recently attended a JASG event that was part of their series of intercultural business management lunches. This event focused on bridging cultural differences and how to listen and talk in a divided society. The session was presented by Vicki Flier Hudson, CEO of High Road Global Services (www.highroaders.com), an organization specializing in global leadership coaching, virtual training, and cross-cultural training. Drawing on her deep experience in cross-cultural change management, Vicki outlined three critical communication skills and ways to develop them. She spoke effectively and passionately about the need for all of us to bridge not only cultural differences but other differences that might divide us within our own society. Kudos to JASG and to Vicki for a great event.
Another top-notch Atlanta-based organization with an international focus of special interest to those involved in the technology world is Conexx (www.conexx.org, formerly the Israeli-American Chamber of Commerce Atlanta). Given the outpouring of cutting-edge technology from Israel, anyone involved in the technology community would benefit from becoming involved in Conexx. Finally, at the risk of leaving out other fine organizations, I should also highlight that the Georgia Department of Economic Development has an International Trade Division (https://www.georgia.org/international/trade) staffed by experienced individuals based here in Atlanta and in twelve (at last count) countries around the world. A key part of their mission is to help Georgia-based businesses to enter and expand into markets across the globe.
Despite some recent trends towards protectionism, I believe that international trade will only continue to grow as a vital part of our economy, and that this is especially true for those of us involved in technology. We would all be well served to consider the actual and potential international aspects of our business and to get involved in the relevant international organizations that can provide helpful information and connections.