Business Lexington recently interviewed two Lexmark executives (click here for the full article) who discussed their experiences working internationally. We wanted to expand that conversation with two follow-up interviews with other Lexmark executives who have or are working internationally. Click here to check out the first post if you missed it. The following is the second in the two-part series. Our second Lexmark interview features Cathy Iacobo, vice president and general manager of Lexmark customer support services.
Lexmark: Where was your international assignment and what did you do?
Iacobo: My international assignment was three years in Orléans, France. My role was vice president and general manager of Lexmark’s EMEA (Europe / Middle East / Africa) supply chain. I also served as the general manager of Lexmark’s site in Orléans, France.
Lexmark: How difficult was your initial transition on your assignment?
Iacobo: There were several challenges in my initial transition. My role was in a new functional area for me, so the business content was all-new and as I did not speak French, the language was definitely a challenge. Also, learning how the team worked was very different. There was more discussion and exchange before decision making than we are used to in the U.S. However, I soon began to appreciate the fact that once a decision had been reached it could be acted on more quickly than a decision handed down.
Lexmark: What did being in a new, diverse culture teach you?
Iacobo: It taught me that looking for the commonalities between people and between cultures is a great starting point for engagement. It also taught me that understanding the history of the region or country you work with is extremely helpful in understanding the people themselves.
Lexmark: How has your experience in Orléans helped you add value to Lexmark?
Iacobo: Upon completion of my assignment, I returned to Lexington in a global service leadership role. I have no doubt that I am a much more effective global leader in this role due to my international assignment. Thinking globally now comes naturally. I have been able to help my Lexington based team in their global thinking, planning and acting.
Lexmark: What is your advice for people considering an opportunity to work overseas?
Iacobo: When considering an overseas assignment, consider both the professional and personal aspects of the assignment. If possible, talk to other people in your company who have been on international assignments and gather as many facts as possible. If you take an opportunity, be sure to take the time to travel in the region you are assigned, as you’ll never be able to do so again with such ease. It will enrich your experience immensely.
Working overseas is an once-in-a-lifetime experience that few of us get offered. Once armed with facts, I hope you can say yes to this enriching opportunity.
Click here to read the article in Business Lexington featuring Lexmark executives, Todd Hamlin and Ronaldo Foresti.