Interview with a Global Team

Left to Right: Juan López (EGADE), Amaury Guerrero (FGV), Roddy Ropner (CUHK), Laetitia Smits van Oyen (RSM), Sanjay Acharya (UNC), Venus LaBerge (UNC), Luis Rippen (RSM)

Left to Right: Juan López (EGADE), Amaury Guerrero (FGV), Roddy Ropner (CUHK), Laetitia Smits van Oyen (RSM), Sanjay Acharya (UNC), Venus LaBerge (UNC), Luis Rippen (RSM)

What was your most recent global team assignment?

  • Sanjay (USA): For our Global Operations Management project, we researched how companies around the world are using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology and its impact on global supply chain management.
  • Amaury (Brazil): I researched the use of RFID technology at Hewlett Packard in Brazil and Alcon Labs in the USA. My teammates researched companies in their regions. Then we combined our findings into one global paper.
  • Juan (Mexico): Each global team was assigned a faculty member as a mentor to provide general direction and guidance. The global project was evaluated by two professors: our mentor and a professor from other partner school. Our final project grade was shared equally by our team members.

What did you learn from the team project?

  • Amaury (Brazil): A lot! In our paper, we linked the companies who use RFID technology to a reduction in the bullwhip effect, which is a supply chain concept we studied.
  • Sanjay (USA): The project gave me a deeper understanding of RFID and how it can be used to gain competitive advantage.
  • Laetitia (Netherlands): We also learned how to function effectively as a global team. We identified and encouraged each other’s strengths and used humor to get the job done.

How did your team work together?

  • Roddy (China): We held formal teleconferences twice a month, and more casual ones whenever we needed them. Between meetings, we communicated using email and calls over the Internet using Skype.
  • Juan (Mexico): Time zones make working in global teams challenging. We usually met in the early morning for the Americas. At that time, we were just waking up in Mexico and the US. In China, the team member was about to go to sleep. The time was very convenient for Europe team members — mid-afternoon!
  • Luis (Netherlands): We gained experience working effectively in far-flung teams. Personally, I now initiate more teleconferences in my own company because I’ve learned how this can be effective in certain circumstances.

How did you handle cultural differences?

  • Venus (USA): I was thoroughly impressed by my teammates’ intelligence, drive and focus on team effort, which took precedence over differences in culture, expertise and work styles.
  • Amaury (Brazil): Despite our cultural differences, we would minimize conflict by respecting and learning from each other. The cultural differences were treated with diplomacy in a friendly way.
  • Roddy (China): For example, if we had trouble deciding on an approach to a problem, we discussed it in detail, with everyone having a chance to speak. Then we made our choice by voting. Our policy was to work hard and have fun.

What did you learn about your own leadership skills?

  • Laetitia (Neatherlands): I used the same skills with my OneMBA team that I use with my global team in my business. The results were a motivated team that produces good quality results with mutual understanding.
  • Luis (Neatherlands): I learned that when people feel at ease and stimulate each other to come up with ideas, you work hard together without getting tired! With this team, I learned that it is not always necessary to have one leader acting as a guiding angel. In our group, all members led the team to the finish.
  • Roddy (China): I feel a little differently. It seems that at some point, someone has to take charge of the team. However, I learned to stop, listen and encourage others to speak before leaping in myself.
  • Venus (USA): My team members helped me grow in a direction that had not been possible in my technically oriented career. For many of us, our past career success depended on individual performance. As we gain move up our organizations, the focus shifts more toward leading and teamwork.