DOBSON — Royce Too LLC Associate Brand Manager Melinda Shew’s message to Surry Community College business students is that technology has made global the new local.
Shew’s company specializes in men’s and women’s hosiery and is a licensee for major national brands including Nautica, Dockers and Saucony. Royce recently moved its operations from New York City to Winston-Salem.
“We do not realize how global business is now,” explained Shew. “I was so honored to speak to this class, especially since the students don’t realize how global customs impact local business. The fact is there’s a huge chance that components for whatever you manufacture will come from other countries.”
She said she has found out cultures share common ground in their values but a savvy business person would be well-served by also knowing the differences if they want to be competitive. She told students to educate themselves about other cultures to make themselves more successful in the workplace.
“Our culture is important to us and others,” said Shew. “It is so crucial to understand how cultures interact. Not everyone is exactly the same.”
She explained to the students that in China, an empty plate is a sign that you did not have enough to eat. Here it is a sign you enjoyed the meal. She also said there is an active drinking culture in China which results in many business deals being settled after regular business hours.
Shew told students Chinese business representatives like to build relationships with clients and take a longer time before getting down to business, so to speak. This translates into more trips needed to negotiate a deal than would be required in the United States.
She also explained to the students Americans typically share three cultural priorities. They are freedom, independence and self-reliance. Japanese culture stresses belonging, group harmony and collectiveness. She added that Arab countries typically set their priorities as family security, parental harmony and parental guidance.
She said in China paying extra respect to the elder business manager could make all the difference because the culture stresses respect for elders. She also said that the local adage no news is good news does not remain true internationally. Overseas, no news may mean the deal is off and your components will not be delivered.
Shew said global culture also makes communication difficult. She said she has been in a situation of talking to a Japanese interpreter who is, in turn, speaking to someone who speaks only Chinese.
“When you think of how important communication is in this process given it is happening globally, something can be conveyed incorrectly,” said Shew. “The lesson I have learned is a picture is worth a thousand words. There are barriers to overcome.”
Shew said English is the common language of global business. She said she was impressed on her visits to China that many workers spoke three languages. She also credits her former employer, Renfro Corp., with giving her the chance to learn about establishing global business relationships.
“Renfro is an amazing company,” said Shew. “They are a U.S. firm that also works with global suppliers. Renfro helped me when I was 26 . They molded and grew me into who I am now. I have them to thank for my education that is so important. I hope others have the same opportunities as I have.”
She said a business must consider all taxes, tariffs and fees when shipping merchandise and calculating profit margins. She also made a prediction about the future of business.
“Global industry will expand. My personal opinion is relationships and technology have brought us so far around the globe. It’s growing dramatic management roles pertaining to international business. Many companies are hiring for this all the time.”
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com. or 719-1952.