Diplomat to share tips for success in globalized economy

Christian Marnon, College Heights Herald/WKU Herald, Sep 25, 2013

Staying in step with a fast-paced, globalized world can seem overwhelming for college students and raises many questions when deciding a future profession.

Definite answers to these questions may be vague, but constructing a personal framework for global change is key for career diplomat Michael McClellan, who will present “Successful Careers in the Age of Globalization: Expert Advice from a Career Diplomat” [link added] at 5 p.m. today [Thursday] in Ransdell Hall Auditorium.

With nearly 30 years of experience as a diplomat, McClellan has traveled the globe, working in diverse regions ranging from South Sudan, Kosovo, Ireland, Iraq, Ethiopia and more.

And that’s not even half of what McClellan has accomplished, said Wolfgang Brauner, an academic adviser at the Honors College, which sponsored the presentation to WKU. Brauner said if there was a go-to authority on the subject of careers in the midst of globalization, it would be McClellan.

“He’s really special,” Brauner said. “He’s not just your straight and narrow diplomat if there ever was such a thing. He’s published a book on monasticism, he’s a photographer and he also owns a small organic farm in Bowling Green.”

In Kosovo, McClellan established a diplomatic office and opened the American University. In Ethiopia, he worked to diminish conflict between feuding Muslims and Christians. At Irish Acres, his small farm in Bowling Green, he uses Icelandic sea kelp fertilizer to foster pure, natural growth in crops and animal husbandry.

With all the extensive time spent overseas, McClellan said he can attest to the importance of broadening international perspectives.

“No matter what career you want, there are just a certain set of skills that you need in order to live, function and swim in other cultural environments,” he said.

Cross cultural skills, sensitivity skills, linguistic skills and communications skills are some of the skills integral for functioning outside your environment, McClellan said.

“Even if you don’t plan to live overseas, you’re still going to be dealing with people from other cultures,” he said. “If you’re a car mechanic who wants to run a shop in Bowling Green, it’s probably a good idea for you to have some knowledge of perhaps Asian or Indian culture.”

Brauner said globalization encourages not only increased interaction with foreign cultures but competition as well.

“No matter what you do for the rest of your life in the 21st century, the global context will have a growing impact,” Brauner said. “Our top students here not only compete with top students in their own country, but they also compete globally.”

During his presentation, McClellan said he will note how building a global framework is not the responsibility of our universities.

“If you want to be well prepared, you need to do certain things and you need to take charge,” McClellan said. “It’s not the job of the university to just come up with a curriculum to prepare you for that.”

McClellan said the lecture will teach attendees how to analyze their skill sets effectively.

“You as an individual student need to look at all the skills that we’re going to lay out and say, ‘OK, I’m pretty good at this one, but I’m deficient at this one,’” he said. “It’s not about a credential. It’s about skill sets and having that intellectual content.”

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