Center For Global Business Distinguished Speaker Series: Disruptors In The Global Workforce
- Good evening and welcome to the Distinguished Speakers in International Business Series here at the Center for Global Business at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland College Park, and a Happy International Education to all. The center here at Maryland Smith is the hub and driver of global learning, global partnerships and global business education and activity at the Smith School. The center is also one of only 15 title Six (indistinct) grants administered by the US Department of Education.
I'm Marina Augoustidis, and I'm the Associate Director of the Center for Global Business. Tonight is an annual event of the center to celebrate International Education Week by showcasing our very own Smith alumni. Tonight, we also welcome all Maryland Smith freshmen and transfer students in the audience as one of two parts of Embassy Day an event of Smith's start. I am pleased to introduce the center's Executive Director and moderator for tonight's discussion, Rebecca Bellinger and an especially warm welcome to our guest speakers this evening. We have Marisa Beardsley, a graduate of our undergraduate program and Manager of International Trade Compliance at Northrop Grumman.
Vandy Gyandhar, the graduate of our MBA program and Senior Global Program Manager at Amazon Web Services. And Matt Kurlanzik, graduate of our undergraduate program and Executive Director of the Global Public Policy at the Walt Disney Company. And finally, last, well I should say last but not least, Chris Steadley, a graduate of the MBA program and Global Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Gartner. Please note that this event is being recorded in video format for the center's website and for distribution after the event.
We'll begin by asking questions of our panel about the global competencies for the 21st century workplace. And then we'll take as many questions as we can from the audience via the Q and A function. Please join me in welcoming our speakers. Rebecca, the floor is yours. - Thank you Marina. And this everyone is when the crowd is going wild.
This is one of the things about doing an online event is that we can't interact with the audience and see their smiling faces and hear their applause. But thank you Marina, and I would also like to add my very, very warm welcome to our panelists, as well as to our virtual audience this evening. We are here to talk about global mindset for the 21st century workplace, meaning the competencies and the skills that make leaders successful in today's global business environment. We'll also be diving into some questions about global workforce trends, macro-economic factors affecting trade, supply chain challenges, DEI, and more, but the real stars of the show are our alumni. So we'll get to talk about their backgrounds and their experiences as well.
So let's turn to our panelists now. And as we do, I need to note that they are here representing themselves, and any opinions that they may share with us this evening are their own and they're not speaking on behalf of their companies. Sound good? All right, so Marisa, Chris, Matt and Vandy, you're all here on this panel, as we've already said, because you are a steam successful alumni of the Smith School engage in business across borders. So tell us your story.
What do you do in your current role? How did you first get interested in global affairs? What, from your own backgrounds perhaps inspired you to be prepared for or interested in global careers and global affairs, and Chris, I'd like to start with you. - Great, well, it's great to be here with everybody tonight. And so what got me, well, first of what do I do? So I'm the Global Head of Diversity Equity and Inclusion. What does that mean? That means that I'm the person who's leading our strategy and leading advisory with our senior executives to improve our inclusive work culture and to increase diversity across the organization. And so how did I get there? And it was a bit of a journey, I started with Gartner eight years ago, I was in sales and then I moved over to consulting. And one of the things that I've always loved about the work that I do is the impact that I'm able to have on various people, sort of whether it's on my team or whether it's a sort of across the globe, whether with the clients, always looking to have the most significant impact possible.
So this opportunity came up last year and it really was an opportunity to magnify and/or sort of amplify the level of impact that I was able to have on the organization. So not just being like, you know, within our consulting group, but really sort of, kinda creating a work environment that works for everybody across the globe and taking into account the various nuances in different countries and regions as we go about doing that. And so I think about sort of, well, what got me interested in sort of in global management and that's like, I was in the peace Corps.
I studied abroad, I did a couple of study abroad while I was at the University of Maryland. And I've just always sort of been in environments where I've been surrounded by people from different cultures, and then there's always been a natural curiosity around that. And I've always just been naturally very respectful in differential people's cultures as well. So to have an opportunity to work officially in this capacity, it was an opportunity that I absolutely jumped at. So I think I've spoken long enough, there is that- - Chris, that's great. Really, there are no time limits here.
I appreciate from the center's perspective that you did mention study abroad and I hope that's something that we'll talk a little bit more about over the course of the next hour. Chris, welcome, Vandy over to you. - Hi everyone. It's great to be here, in my current role, as a Senior Global Program Manager at Amazon Web Services, I'm responsible for the testing, design and implementation of physical security infrastructure programs or classic globe. Basically what that means is I build stuff for AWS around the globe, and I've always sorta loved building things.
I mean, I'm a civil engineer by training, University of Maryland again. And, you know, typically while these programs include upgrades, they're global in nature, as to why I'm interested in global affairs, my identity, it cuts across national boundaries. Growing up, I lived in multiple countries and in India where I was born, my husband is from a country that I had never even visited before I met him. You know, it just gives me, all of that just gives me a really deep into appreciation for the diversity across the globe.
And I've always wanted to work in an organization that had a global reach, kinda like AWS. What I truly enjoy is working with professionals from all over the world and gradually building relationships with them, where we all feel respected and honored for our individuality. - That's great. Vandy, thank you for those great comments. And maybe I didn't realize that you're actually what we call a double tap, two degrees from the University of Maryland. All right, Matt, let's go to you.
- Thank you, Rebecca, and thank you all for being here. It's great to speak to you. So I'm the Executive Director of Global Public Policy for Asia Pacific at the Walt Disney Company.
I'm actually based in Singapore now, I've been here for about two years and previously I was in Hong Kong for about six years. And in this role I cover North Asia, which would be Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, South Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and then I give some support to our South Asia market. So India, Sri Lanka, those countries and Greater China to a lesser extent. I graduated from the Smith School as an undergrad with International Business and Marketing, I think similar to the other panelists, I've always been interested in global affairs.
I couldn't tell you exactly why, one, just anecdote that I remember thinking about this question, is I could always remember reading the international weather forecast on the back of the newspaper when we were younger and always just being really fascinated about all of these different places. So I'm not sure what if that sparked some kind of curiosity for me and maybe a little bit just about my role very briefly. So I support the business units for the Walt Disney Company. So consumer products and increasingly, our direct to consumer streaming business and global public policy.
What that means is a lot of times I work with stakeholders and sometimes directly with policy makers and senior government officials, as they look at legislation that impacts the media and technology space. - Great, Matt welcome. While you were reading the global weather forecast, I was reading the funny pages, so I'm not sure what this says about us, but Marisa, let's go to you, thanks for being here. - Hi, thank you for having me, I'm excited to be part of this. My name is Marisa, I'm the Manager of International Trade Compliance at North of Grumman.
I support the aeronautics systems sector and within their autonomous systems solution is my portfolio. So I develop export licensing strategies for programs and international marketing campaigns, as well as product lines. So what does that mean? I actually apply the US international traffic and arms regulation and export administration regulations to make sure that when we are conducting business with our allied partners and customers globally, that we're doing it in compliance with US Export Regulations. So I first became interested in global affairs actually from my grandfather.
He was the travel for international business, and I would just love hearing his story, seeing pictures and just treasure, like a little trinket if he brought something back from me from abroad. And it really just sparked my interest in realizing that the world is so big, right? And there's so much to learn. And so on my personal time, the pandemic, I did enjoy traveling internationally and just exposing myself to other cultures.
I just find it fascinating. So I definitely knew I wanted to do something in global business and I just didn't really know what and import, export just kind of fell into place. And so, and now I work primarily with export regulations. - Yeah, that's great. And I would like to say a big cheers to hopefully having resuming travel next year so that we can all get back on the road, right? Yeah, so everyone it's really great to have you all with us today, I wish that we were in person, but here we are on Zoom together. And not only because Matt is in Singapore and it's just after 6:30 in the morning, but it's also because there are still pandemic protocols and precautions in place.
Yes, I'm currently in the office and I recognize at least Chris is in the office as well, and so we're getting back to something that we call the new normal maybe, but we all recognize that things might not be the same today as they were, you know, March 2020 last year. So I'd like to ask you, what has changed in your work environments from March, 2020 to now, and what do you anticipate the changes might be over the course of the next five years? And Marisa, we're gonna go to you for this one first. - So the pandemic resulted in travel restrictions, right? And the closure of borders, which significantly decreased the international travel that we were able to conduct. So some of the biggest changes that I've seen in our work environment that instead of the face-to-face meetings, we've really leveraged these virtual platforms as we are utilizing now. And we were actually able to accomplish recreating some events that we would normally hold in person, such as demonstrations, flying missions and live streaming data, you know, virtual tours around an aircraft, conducting 360 degree views for clients and as well as leveraging some virtual reality simulations.
So things where we would normally bring people, maybe to the United States to show them how to do something, we're able to leverage some VR technology as well. So in the next five years, I feel like this hybrid approach, which is kind of becoming the new normal for our work environments, right? The combination of work in the office, work from home. I can see that happening for meetings as well, going forward that maybe we don't always have to travel internationally or people don't always have to travel into the United States for us. I don't think it will work the face-to-face interactions, I think that personal touch is always important in conducting global business, but I do see maybe as at a hybrid approach so that people can, if they are an important decision maker, it gives them some flexibility regarding their schedules to maybe call in and see something online instead of getting on a plane. - Right, so does that also mean we're gonna be adding more meetings to our calendars in the future because we will have to travel from place to place? Marisa, thanks for that. I really loved hearing about the way that you've been using VR and other technologies to show products to clients, that's really fascinating.
Matt, I wanna bring you in on this question as well. And given, you know, Singapore, we saw in the news dealt with the pandemic and in different ways than we did in the US. So how has that changed your work environment there? - Yeah, I think what Marisa said, a lot of that rings true for me out here in Singapore. I think there's gonna be a hybrid approach. I think Disney and other companies are looking to deal with or are looking to implement something that works for employees and for companies, but I think also the recognition that, you know, having people going to the office, but also having the flexibility to have virtual meetings, I think has been really, really valuable.
I mean, I think very briefly in Singapore, there's definitely a different approach in how government implements certain rules and regulations, and I think on the whole we're, you know, a lot of people will wait every every month or so the government will make a new announcement of some new rules. Hopefully, you know, fingers crossed things get open, but I think increasingly, you know, Singapore is a small place, it's about 5 million people and the government, a lot of rules and regulations. There's a lot of compliance. It's a bit of a different culture as it relates to of those things. I think for work, for me in particular, I think Marisa mentioned the meetings and face-to-face, I do think one of the things for me in a global public policy space and being an American and working in a lot of foreign markets, being able to develop trust with people is really important, and while you can do that on Zoom, it's kind of those, it's meeting people physically, and these in-between moments, whether it's at events or at meetings that I think are really important and that really can't be replicated on a Zoom or on a chat.
So I think those moments and kind of the informality of seeing people in their physical space, I think is really important, especially as you work across cultures and borders. So I think that will always be a part, I think there'll be, you know, increase, we won't need to travel, which I think is good for a number of reasons and also kind of a bummer as I like to travel and get the different food across Asia. But that would be my take. - Great, Matt, thanks for that. I really appreciate what you're talking about related to relationship building and how important really vital that is to cross-cultural communication, to international business and figuring out, I think the question that we have to deal with now is how do you continue to build relationships when you don't have those casual meetings at the coffee machine and you don't have the I'm walking from place to place and just chatting with my colleagues as you're conducting business. So how do we figure out how to do that via Zoom, right? Chris and Vandy, I wanna bring you guys in on this question as well, but maybe shift to a different focus? How has the pandemic affected your respective industries? So not, you know, how you're working on a day to day basis, but your industries, Vandy, do you wanna take that first? - Sure, well, you know, so AWS provides cloud services.
So we were busy before the pandemic, we got super busy, we were like peak two to three times what we were doing before. And so, you know, for our industry, I think to manage all that, I think we overcompensated initially with all the increased work, you know, we were working almost 24/7, we were on 24/7, back-to-back video conferencing, it was just not much of a distinction between personal time and work time, plus we had nowhere to go. So it was rough, but then I think going forward, at least in our industry, managers, leadership, we've recognized the impact it was having on our people and the burnout that was ensuing. I think going forward, we will be more strategic with, you know, the video conferencing, be more respectful of non-work time and time zones. And you know, one of the big things I'm seeing, especially in my team, I actually expect a big change in how we assess performance. You know, you had people with you all the time, how do you do that now when your teams are remote, you may not see them for long stretches of time, maybe having ongoing evaluations versus annual evaluations, teaching how to manage remote teams, that's a skill that not everyone had, you know, and then I absolutely see an increased demand for retraining, reskilling, the pandemic has shown, if nothing else, there's a huge gap in skills that people have and need to have.
And I think it's also, you know, permanently disrupted how we shop, how services like medical services, etc, are going to be provided. It's brought to the forefront, how we treat each other in very stark terms and the planet. So I think all of these things are definitely affecting my industry and by that stretch, you know, a lot of other industries as well. - Yeah, lots of great points.
Chris, do you wanna add to that? - Yeah, so the last, well, I would say, the rough thing about going last on this question is, well, what can I add to all the related things that have already been said, right? The environment itself really has shifted, and just to reiterate a number of the points, people are more available, right? They're more accessible, they're more collaborative. So we've seen that and leveraging different tools. There's a greater sense of global connectivity. It's really easy right now to jump on a call with Matt in Singapore, right? Or someone who's in the UK. It's a lot easier to do that now than it was a year and a half ago.
And as a result, the burnout, which has already been discussed and Vandy, you just mentioned that, but also just a lot more awareness of the mental health challenges, right? And how do we just do a better job of taking care of our people and taking care of ourselves? I would say, you know, sort of one of the flip side though, is we've also seen a bit of a leveling of the playing field and you talking about sort of assessing performance. It's a lot more objective now, right? You're not thinking about the person who is actually rolling up to their desk in a wheelchair 'cause you don't see it, right? And so you're just kinda focused on what's the output and that's been a good thing coming out of where we've been, but where are we going? So I've already got what, three check marks here for hybrid, right? I'm gonna sort of mark present again on that one. It's here to stay. And so how do we start to really think about thriving in this? And we talked about travel and meetings, and it's really about those moments that matter where people get together and those are going to grow like in even greater importance, right? You're gonna have to have a really good reason to get people together, and when those events happen, they better be impactful, and also the people need to be showing up there 'cause it's going to be great opportunities to get together. And also think something about, again, Vandy talked about performance and the thinking about that a little bit differently, but we're gonna need to make sure that we're really diligent to ensure that there's equity and treatment for those who are largely remote and for whatever reason are unable to attend those events in person and need to attend remotely, versus those who are able, who are more present physically, we need to make sure that just because you can be there, it doesn't mean that you're getting treated or you're getting evaluated differently.
So those are the things that have really been impacted in how things are going to shift and continue to evolve over the next several years. - Yeah, so what I'm hearing from all of this conversation is on one end, we have the use of more technology to connect people, but also, you know, Marisa talking about virtual reality and things of that sort, certainly folks moving more into the cloud. So on one end, you have the technology. And on the other hand, what I'm hearing is more of a conscientious effort to include and recognize people.
So it's really, sometimes we think about it as two different ends of the spectrum, you've got the robots on this side, you have the people on this side, but it sounds like it's two parts of the exact same, you know, future workplace, this is a great conversation. Let me add to this by saying, you know, we have all of these things happening in the workplace right now while we are experiencing, you know, recovery effort from the pandemic, and the economic environment is really interesting right now. So we have what we're all calling the great resignation in the US and certainly a tight labor market as well, combined with a 4.6% unemployment and the highest inflation rate that the US has experienced in 31 years. And I will stop and recognize that most of the folks in our audience probably don't, weren't alive 31 years ago, but I can tell you, the inflation is higher than it was 31 years ago the most, the nearest highest peak.
So Vandy, I wanted to ask you specifically this question, how do these kinds of macro economic factors affect your company's ability to compete across borders? - Absolutely, the labor shortage is real. It's a real issue. And the war for talent is on, especially in the US and across the world. And I feel this is, you know, it's a great time to be in the shoes of the students we've got here to be skilled and talented and to have these great opportunities in front of you.
What a great time to be in that. But today, you know, the workers for today, they have the skills that span disciplines and industries and regions, they can go anywhere. They can do pretty much a lot of different things with the talents and the skills they have, you know, in the past, if you wanted the best talent, it was all about the job, the package. In today's world, it goes beyond that. You can't just appeal to your employee's head.
We have to appeal to their hearts. There are so many different criteria that people who come to interview with us they had, and we have to meet for at least prove that we meet them. It has to be a good fit with the right role, the right outlook, the opportunity has to be there. The compensation has to be there. The right culture has to be there.
We have to prove to our new hires that we are worthy of them because we need that talent to grow at the rate that we're growing and to do the things that we want to do. And, you know, despite all of these, you know, so these are global issues, but on top of that, you've got regional issues 'cause what might motivate an employee in India may not motivate an employee in I don't know, Brazil or Australia, that it's very difficult environment to be hiring, and we are always, always looking for talented people. - Yeah, great, so we'll send all of our students to AWS to look for jobs. - Absolutely. - You guys heard it here.
Okay, I'm gonna shift focus just a little bit. We've talked a lot about the pandemic, the global economy, and I'd like to talk now about the other elephant in the room, which is supply chain issues. We all remember the toilet tissue supply chain challenges at the beginning of the pandemic. And now what we're seeing in the news is that we are warned that ongoing supply chain disruptions are going to delay the delivery of our holiday shopping packages.
So does anyone have a solution to that or more seriously, Marisa, I'd like to ask you what challenges and solutions you are seeing in the supply chain within your industry? - So North of Grumman has a robust supply chain ecosystem, maybe thousands of suppliers across not only the country, but the globe. And so you have a trickle down effect, right? Smaller businesses support even smaller businesses. So how do we ensure that, you know, we're supporting down our chain to continue to supply to our customers, both domestically and internationally, as an essential business, as part of the critical infrastructure, we had to remain open and continue for deliveries in the pandemic, which is a great challenge.
And so one of the things that we did to mitigate risk, and it had a very powerful impact was that we were able to accelerate payments just to help those smaller businesses, that they be survive on a week by week basis, and so from an export license advantage point, from kinda where I sit, some of the steps we can take are to make sure that we have a wide variety of freight borders on our export licenses. We have a requirement that to get preapproval for who ships our goods, so to make sure that we're not limiting ourselves, and we have maybe different options and to partner with our programs to make sure that it qualities, you know, still there and not be affected. Are we able to kinda bring in some of those deliveries and ship a little bit earlier to our customers to account for those increase timelines that we're seeing both through customs and through the transportation.
- Right, anyone able to solve the holiday shopping package issue, Marisa, anything? No, shop early guys. Okay, Marisa, thanks for that. I'm sure that some of our supply chain students are on with us right now, are furiously taking notes about some of the things you're talking about. So let's move on away from business issues perhaps, and talk a little bit more about social issues affecting business.
So here at Maryland Smith, and certainly at the Center for Global Business, we are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion in our educational community. And passion for diversity in fact is one of the seven competencies of how we at the Smith School define global mindset. So I'd like to ask how your organization has taken action to ensure DEI in the workplace.
And Chris, you know, I'm gonna start with you on this one. - Shocker, so the thing we'd done and this was about, hey, this is the personal point of view, not about the company, but I've talked about my company here, right? So we've really accelerated our journey, and I'll say that one of the things that we did was we established a diversity, equity and inclusion center of excellence, and that is the way that we officially proclaim, like we've got a new capability, we're serious about this. So as of tomorrow, right, we will have been up for exactly one year, and so, what have we done? Well, one of the things that we really needed to do was we needed to just get everyone on the same page, right? So what's gonna be our strategy and what's gonna be the roadmap, and, you know, this really ties back to the global mindset.
When I brought my team on, I said, well, we need to kinda have conversations across the globe, to understand what's happening? What are perceptions? What do people need? And all of that really informed us building kind of is now our strategy and our going forward roadmap. And as a result, one of the things that we've done is we've established, I would say different, I've got teams now that are setting up in India and teams that are setting up in Australia and APAC region, and then also we've got plans to expand that into Mia in different emerging markets of market sanctuary. So that's our really taking a global approach. Another big thing around DEI is the communities, right? That you've got established internally. These really are important, right? There are opportunities for people to connect and really would say, aluminate what can be an inclusive culture, right? And they're really critical to that.
So in terms of various programs, bringing in speakers with different trainees or even development for specific communities, we've really focused on that. So we wanted to make sure that we took care of the four that we already had, but we wanted to expand those communities as well, to make sure that we're fostering environment for everyone, something that's been really important for us is gathering data right about like who are our people, right? And we needed to understand a bit more kind of outside of the US about, hey, how do you identify from a gender identity standpoint, even asking various race, ethnicity questions in places that we haven't done before. So that self-identification thing, one, helps people feel really sort of connected to the organization.
They've got an opportunity to say, hey, here's who I am. It's also really good from us, 'cause we have a better understanding of who our employees are, and that gives a sense of where we need to invest in terms of building programs and capabilities as well. And we've also done some things around talent acceleration.
We have to be very intentional about accelerating talent from certain backgrounds into leadership roles. And so we've, and I'll say one of the things about Gartner. So we, like we're a $4 billion company, we're global, we've got 39 offices across the globe, and we've got these 12 business students that really sort of operate kind of independently of each other, and so what's been critical in terms of when we looked at the career paths within Gartner is it's not necessarily this kind of straight, you know, line up. It's more of a zigzag. So someone will work in this business unit, then they'll go work over in that business unit and then there'll be over here. And I've actually, that's kind of my story at Gartner as well.
And the key enabler there is creating exposure right to our senior leaders, right? They gotta know who you are, and so we talk a lot about really just kinda crushing it like where you are, 'cause if you do that, then people are going to notice you, you might not know that people are looking at you, but when you put great performance on paper, people will start to notice, you do that consistently, you're gonna be hard to ignore. And so we needed to take those really high performers who weren't necessarily getting those exposure opportunities before and create that for them. And so we've created very intentional programs this year that we started to pilot that is doing that very thing. And so when we talk about sponsorship and really sort of changing the landscape from a leadership perspective in how we look, that's really important, but also changing how you look and how you think at the top of the organization has this cascading effect on bias, right? So now I've got someone at the top or near the top of the organization, starting to interrogate and ask questions in a different way or bringing a different perspective that people need to think about.
And then also another thing and I'll stop, but we think about what are the key things that helps sort of retain talent, right? And the best way, one of the best ways to retain talent is to have somebody in leadership that kinda looks like you, right? 'Cause all of a sudden, psychologically I've got a path, it may be difficult and it may be a zigzag, but I see a way, right? And I got somebody I can talk to who can give me some advice about that, and so those are the kinds of relationships that we wanna start to foster as well. And that's why it's really been really important for us that we'd focused on bringing more diversity into our leadership. - Yeah, well, I applaud all of those efforts.
That sounds wonderful. This idea of being able to see yourself in somebody else's shoes, like in a higher level, because you identify with the person in that position is really critical. - And what I failed to mention Rebecca.
- Yeah, sure. - Sorry, is, I mean, Gartner overall, we don't do anything without looking at the data like seven different ways, and this has been treated no differently. We're extremely data-driven in how we'd go about this, and that's why using that self ID as a foundation has really helped us like that.
Look at things in a different way than we have before. So that's a really, really, really critical component of how we have made progress this year and how we would continue to make progress over the next several. - That's great, Chris, thank you for sharing all of that. Matt, I wanted to turn to you because you being in Singapore might have a different perspective or could share a perspective about what this conversation about diversity, equity, inclusion looks like in a place like Singapore, which is very different than the US. - Yeah. I mean, I think two quick things, I think one from a Disney perspective, I think it's similar for what Chris was saying and that really from a company that's so global, you know, a lot of these policies and programs we're trying to develop from a global perspective.
And so we have things like these business employee resource groups, I always forget the acronym, (indistinct), so we have about 70 of them. I mean, Disney is a big place. And so I think have, and being able to attract from a global perspective or at the more local level or in the different regions is important. I think the other thing for Disney is, you know, there's DEI internally and then there's also representation and our products and on the screen.
And I think that, especially in Singapore, especially in Asia is a little bit different, and even internally it's tricky, I think just a real pick example. So this wasn't a Disney film, but "Crazy Rich Asians". I think a lot of people that's their introduction to Singapore, but when you're here in Singapore, that's not the lived experience of a lot of people. You know, Singapore is very diverse, ethnically there's a lot, you know, that was, you know, featured a lot of Chinese Singapore, which is roughly 70% of the population, but there's a very big Indian Singapore, Singaporean population, malaise Singaporean population, and kind of it, I think on the one it's just recognizing when these things are presented in a particular way, it's not bad, I mean, it was a good film and I think it's done a lot of good, but it's just, the conversation can be different when you think about things like representation through these different lenses. So the Singapore and point of view on that movie may be different than the American point of view on that movie.
So I think that's just one of the things that's always going to be something to consider and is for media companies, it's going to be a challenge. I think it's a great challenge and real cool opportunity to tell these different stories, but it's something that is really important. - Yeah, and I think that what you bring up is this idea, that one concept isn't interpreted the same way in every region in the world, and that is all what global mindset is all about. So Matt and Chris, thank you for taking on that question for us.
Another social issue that I'd like to bring up that has business implications as well is climate change. We're gonna leave politics over here and instead talk about the fact that the UN's climate conference occurred just last week in Scotland, I think it was. And the theme this year was how science and innovation can address climate change or more specifically, the phrase I kept seeing was adaptive climate resilience. So how has your industry or your company been addressing climate change and Vandy, can we go to you for this? - Absolutely, and one of the things that struck me too in the COP26 was how industry, private industry will actually lead the way in innovation and whatever the hopefully breaking technologies are that will help us reduce temperature gains in the future.
AWS, Amazon, we are huge consumers of energy in our fulfillment centers, our data centers, however, 2019 Amazon, they co-founded the climate pledge, which I'm actually very proud of to be a part of a company that did that. It's a commitment to achieve net zero carbon emissions across all our businesses by 2040. And we're doing that in a lot of different ways, but as part of the pledge, there's several commitments, such as, you know, powering our operations in the fulfillment centers and the data centers, 100% renewable energy by 2025. And actually in 2020, Amazon became the world's largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, which, I mean, the numbers are astounding.
I don't have them at my fingertips, but I'm sure they're at the website. And also part of the pledge was, you know, a pledge to invest $2 billion to support decarbonizing technologies and services. And I think that's gonna be a big engine for investment in new technologies, and that's really, I think what the world needs. Yes, governments and politics aside, they need to do their pledges, but I think industry will become that engine for change because they consume, but at the same time, they might bring about the new technologies that we really need to see. - Okay, so Amazon is or AWS is investing a lot in renewables and with a focus specifically on de-carbonization.
- Yeah, so, you know, there's other things too, right? We do a lot of delivery, so they're going to put on 100,000 electric vehicles, delivery vehicles on the road to cut emissions there, the packaging, that's a huge issue. So we're looking in sustainable packaging, a lot of other things like that. - Great, thanks, Chris, do you wanna jump in on this too? - Sure, yeah, and you know, as Gartner, we're a service company, and we we develop research and insights that help people make decisions. So very different approach to how we're addressing this, but there's two key things for us. And one of those is creating awareness with our associates about what their own personal sort of impact and responsibility is right around the environment.
Really kinda letting people know like how your activities on a day to day basis are impacting environment is something that we've really been focused on. And then also our real estate, so I mentioned earlier that we've got 39 offices across the globe, and, you know, we've really sort of looked at, typically with the shutdown, we took some time to think about refine and kind of accelerate the adoption of various sustainable practices in our office, build outs and operations. And even as we think about sort of maybe shifting our workspaces in a way, we wanna make sure that we're putting those things top of mind as well.
I think we're working like many others on fully disclosing our admissions, and so that's something that we're gonna be doing. That's what we plan to do next year. I won't say that we are doing that and since this is being recorded, but also I'll say that we're putting a heavy emphasis on the use of cleaning technology as well.
So the collaboration tools that we've talked about, cloud and data center rationalization and consolidation, as well as equipment refreshes and donations of used hardware to nonprofit organizations. So there's a lot there that we're doing here from in terms of what we can control, given the industry in the way that we work. - Yeah, I like what you started with, which is, you know, that the personal, organizations, companies can do a lot, governments can do a lot, but really what is the individual doing to contribute to you know, the larger global efforts? That's a great point. - Yeah. - So I see that we're what 15 past the hour, I wanna make sure that we get time for some of the student questions that were submitted as well. So I'm going to do a quick round Robin for everybody. Just quick snippets of answer to one question.
So all of the topics that we've talked about so far, climate change, you know, other social issues, the global pandemic supply chain, etc, all of these are things that are really, you know, in headlines today. And I know that these are things that our students are talking about in the building. We say that the foundation of global mindset, as we define it here at the Smith School is an awareness and understanding of world events and how they impact the global economy and specific industries. So in addition, all of these things we've talked about already, what else is happening in the world? What else has happened over the past year that has had the greatest impact on your industry? So quick answers, Marisa, how do you wanna respond? - It's difficult to choose a single event as being the most influential for defense. World events that affect the US foreign policy or national security position really have the greatest impact on our industry and specifically export regulations, right? Regulations can change, 'cause US regulations, foreign regulations, sanctions can be issued or updated, trade agreements are formed and dissolved, we have duty rates that change and affect our exchange rates. And these world events also affect our customers and their national security missions, which can also alter, you know, their government funding or acquisition priority.
So it's really hard to choose one, but I would say that there's no single one on the monitor, you know, all the global events. - Okay, that's fair, for you, we'll give you a pass, you didn't choose just one. Matt, how would you like to respond? - I would say, I think probably the US China relationship, I think mostly for two reasons, one, most countries in Asia, their top two trading partners are the US and China from an investment or export, import perspective. And then also for media, I think how things are presented or represented increasingly doesn't just impact the US China relationship. There's a lot of regional dynamics just real quickly, you know, the south China sea map and how that's presented or if that's presented, or that causes a lot of concern for our industry, but I think that is the overlay, just that relationship for the media industry and for Asia Pacific region.
- Yeah, and it's definitely one that is, you know, we've got our eye on here and on this side of the Pacific as well. All right, Vandy, what do you have to say? - For my industry, I would say it's all things security, cyber security, physical security, all over the globe. I think as shortages increase and political tensions rise, that's something that we are always concerned about. - Yeah, okay, great, and Chris? - So as a service company, people, right matter for (indistinct) and so as a people company and a growth company, that's something you mentioned earlier, Rebecca, the great resignation is something that has really had a significant impact on us. It's been real for us, right? The seeing the shifts in worker expectations. And, you know, it's kind of really forcing a bit of a reset in the labor market specifically for what it is that we do, and with our business rowing and expectations rising kinda coming out of this retaining our workforces, and being able to attract new workers is more important than it's ever been.
- Yeah, okay, these are all great things that I'm sure our students are hearing about or well reading about, I suppose, in the headlines. So thanks for bringing those to our attention. Gonna turn now to some of the questions that our students who registered for this event have submitted in advance. So we have a question from Peter, an undergraduate student, and I'm gonna direct this question to Marisa.
Can you tell us about an experience in an international business setting where you needed to adapt quickly? - Yes, so our meetings and my focus primarily are to set it up from a US export compliance vantage point. That's my primary concern to make sure that our folks in our company remain compliant while we're conducting business. However, there was one instance, right, where there was some communication challenges and it ended up that some of the hardware from a certain foreign partner that we had approval for, the foreign partner did not have approval for under their export regulations.
And so within about 48 hours before the event, we had to pivot and kinda rework some of the content as well as the agenda, so to make sure that we were compliant, not just with the US regulations, but also with one of our suppliers requirements as well. - Yeah, great, good example. Anyone else wanna give an example? No pressure, all right. Let's go to our next question that came in from an MBA student has asked, what should be the mindset for sustaining global competitive advantage today? Who wants to take that one? That's a juicy one. - I'll go, and I'm just gonna double down on what I just said. The, and this is around our focus on our employees, right? And you think about the environment, you can work from anywhere right now, we even think about sort of how easy it is to get a new job.
You don't even got to put on pants, right? And you can put on a shirt and tie kind of set the desk, you know, that's but that's a 15 minute process and have a few interviews and all of a sudden, you've got a new opportunity at your hands with the ease, that it is to transition. You need to really think very carefully about what kind of focus and how are we treating our employees, and so with this, and that is a mindset because, you know, we can focus a lot on our customers, and you know, they're number one and that's what we're doing, but we got to see a shift, I think, especially with the labor market evolving the way it is, I think we'll continue to see this, what are we doing to take care of our people, right? And what are we doing to sort of create an experience for them, not just kinda what it is that they can do for us as companies, but what is it as companies that we can do for them beyond just paying them, like giving them meaning in their work, making sure that we're taking care of their wellbeing and making sure that we're creating an environment where they really do feel engaged. I think the mindset's gonna need to really shift to that, if we're wanting sustain the global positioning and competitive advantages that exists today, or that you wanna create going into the future. - Yeah, Chris, that's really all about the people.
That's great. - It is. - Another question that came in from an undergrad student, and I'd like to get an answer from everyone on this, quick round Robin, again, if we can, how do you use global mindset in your day to day activities? Who wants to go first? - I can go, I mean, I think for me a lot of this, you know, have I really liked the seven kind of principles outlined at the beginning. I think for me just very quickly, you know, it's really being open and listening to things. So whether that's reading different things, watching different things and not necessarily from the US or not necessarily from Western media, trying to like, you know, I go to different countries. And so when I go there, I'll try to watch the local news station or read the local newspaper. So just a small thing that helps me, you know, there are differences that you can pick up when you do these kinds of things.
I think it's important to try to keep your ears open and listen to these different conversations. - Great, Vandy. - Yup, I think building relationships, you know, at every opportunity you get, genuine, open, human relationships with the people, people are wonderful, people are very kind, everyone wants to teach you about themselves.
They want you to be a part of their culture, excuse me, to be a part of what they know. And, you know, if you put yourself out there and are open to these new experiences and relationships, I think that works really well. - That's great, Marisa. - Self-awareness and humility when conducting business globally, right? I provide personal guidance and interpretation of the regulations on a daily basis, but I am no means an expert on everything export related, and I recognize that and reach out to my network of colleagues to gain input if they're just similar problem and to continue to learn and grow and not just reaching out across the board, but also reaching out, you know, to maybe people above you and also maybe people that are newer as well to gain their perspective and input on how they would solve the problem. - That's great, thank you. Chris, any thoughts? - Sure, yeah, I think you would probably obviously say, well, it's gotta be the passion for diversity, right? I'm gonna say, well, yes, they care about that, but you know, fundamentally on a day-to-day basis, do you think about the work of equity? And that means that you're working with a lot of different groups and you're trying to change a lot of different things, and so you're doing that in partnership with others.
And so just as Vandy said, you know, the relationship building component is absolutely critical, and also because of sort of, you know, evolving events or, you know, new information, you constantly have to be adaptable, and we always talk about the relentless prioritization internally. That is something that's critically important as well and use on a day-to-day basis. - That's wonderful, and for our audience, everyone is using these terms that are the seven competencies of a global mindset, when we close, we're not done yet, but when we close out of this event, we will make sure that we send to you in a follow-up email, you'll have the video and some other things, a link to these seven competencies, so you can start to understand exactly what our esteemed panelists are talking about when they're talking about passion for diversity, relationship building, humility and self-awareness.
So this is Marina she's back with us today, or this evening to tell us that we are time for last question. So Marina, I'm gonna take one more minute to ask the question that I know all of our students want to know. They want some advice from each of you about what they can do to develop their own global mindset and prepare for leadership positions in global business. Again, quick round Robin, if we can, what advice do you have for students today about what they can be doing while they're still enrolled at Maryland Smith? Anyone first? - I'll go, I'll just quickly say accumulate experiences, personal and professional, right? Take on different roles in different functions, bet on yourself, get engaged with the community in many different ways.
It's a really good way to kind of build and hone some leadership skills and can't stress enough, the importance of travel and exposure and immersion into different cultures and study abroad. And I'm not just doing that to plug the study abroad program, but it's really important. - That's fantastic, accumulate experiences, bet on yourself and study abroad, I love it. Marisa.
- Actively listening to others is a skill to begin to cultivate early and be comfortable with change, be able to be adaptable and because things are constantly changing. - Great, that's great. So active listening and adaptability, fantastic, Matt. - Yeah, I really, I think Chris's point of study abroad was really important for me and I Marisa's point on humility and actively listening, I think also those are really important. The only other thing I would say is, it's not necessarily easy to have a global mindset. I think it takes a lot of work, and I think it's one of these things where you have to really, if you're committed to having this perspective and working in global from a global, with a global career or in a global role, like it takes active work and it's not, and so I would just suggest it's not the easiest thing to do, and it has its own challenges as well.
- Yeah, but it sounds like you're saying go after it, be active, constantly be in pursuit of global mindset and in your career goals. - Absolutely, no, I don't wanna put a downer on it. Definitely, I think, it's all very much worth it, but it takes a lot of hard work, and I think everyone at Maryland is prepared for that. - Absolutely, and Vandy we'll give you the last word on this. - Well, I will say again, it is a absolutely great time in history to be qualified and skilled and to have a world of options and opportunities in front of you.
So my advice is to seize an opportunity that fits you and not to be scared to put yourself out there, but focus on your talent, find out what you're good at, and then invest tens of thousands of hours in it and become a really great at it. And then associate with the people, the kind of people you wanna be, and then you'll just start moving in that direction. And then I guess finally just remember that at the end of the day, most people actually 99.99% people are very decent, very kind, very nice, and you will have amazing experiences when you lower your shield a little bit and just get to know people. - Fantastic, so I'm hearing an echoing of what Matt said about put in the work, get the skills, seize opportunities, focus on what you do well, network and believe in other people, that's fantastic. These are all life skills I've written down for myself as well, so I appreciate the advice.
And with that Marina, I see you on the screen, we will go ahead and call it a wrap. I would like to say once again, a huge, huge bit of gratitude and thanks to Matt, to Vandy, Chris and Marisa for joining us this evening, it has been such a pleasure to spend this hour with you. I know again, we can't hear the applause from the audience but I do believe it is there.
We have a watch party going on with one of our colleagues and there are at least 50 students in there, and I'm sure that they're cheering loudly for you. So again, thank you for sharing your time and insights with us. You certainly make Maryland Smith really proud, so thank you. Marina, over to you.
- Thank you, yes, that was some wonderful advice to end on. And we do have some proof of the watch party on Twitter, so you could take a look after the event. I'd like to thank the speakers and thank you to everyone attending for tonight's event. I am for freshmen and transfer students who are participating tonight, I'd like to introduce the countries that you all will be visiting either virtually or in-person as part two of Embassy Day in February when you'll get to travel as I said, in person or virtually to an embassy in DC, to learn about the culture and business landscape in another country. These are the countries that will be available to you, and you will receive more information, including a chance to register early in an email that is provided to you during the week of December 6th. So take a look, I won't read them all, but we have definitely a span the globe on choices of countries that you'll be able to visit come February.
So I'd like to thank everybody for joining us. Please do take a moment to give us some feedback on the event and any ideas for upcoming future events. You'll see the evaluation link here as well as a pop-up screen after the event closes, and again, please go ahead and scan the QR code if you are an undergraduate student, I'm seeking credit for (indistinct) Smith. Thank you again to all of you, Happy International Education Week, and we will see you next semester when we come back with a new group of Distinguished Speaker Series in the spring. Thank you so much.