Shaman, Bless This Lab

How to cross the cultural divide when working overseas

5 min read
photo of two men bowing
Photo: Royalty-Free/Corbis

Ah, globalization. What seems charming and exotic in the pages of National Geographic becomes downright maddening when you’re trying to get business done on deadline, while navigating the seemingly bizarre customs and social rituals of a foreign location.

Whether you’re an American project manager working in Shanghai, a German engineer on contract in the Middle East, or an Indian software developer trying to make it in Paris, the ability to work across cultures is becoming as important as engineering prowess—particularly as high-tech firms open more and more overseas facilities, engage in multinational projects, and outsource to companies in still other countries. Not to mention that, for engineers moving into management positions, overseas postings are often key to ascending corporate ladders. The most successful will be those who can most readily adjust to local business norms.

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

His pivot from defense helped a tiny tuning-fork prevent SUV rollovers and plane crashes

11 min read
Asad Madni and the Life-Saving Sensor

In 1992, Asad M. Madni sat at the helm of BEI Sensors and Controls, overseeing a product line that included a variety of sensor and inertial-navigation devices, but its customers were less varied—mainly, the aerospace and defense electronics industries.

And he had a problem.

The Cold War had ended, crashing the U.S. defense industry. And business wasn’t going to come back anytime soon. BEI needed to identify and capture new customers—and quickly.

Keep Reading ↓Show less