“Global acumen” increasingly valued in the workplace

In her 28 years working for professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Kenya Haupt has witnessed a growing importance placed on employees having global awareness.

In fact, PwC now includes “global acumen” among the dimensions employees should strive for to broaden their minds and think more globally, says Haupt, national director in corporate responsibility for PwC and a board member for the Foundation for Global Scholars.

“I feel like it really enhances a person’s marketability in a number of ways,” Haupt says. “I think today’s companies are all very focused on cultural awareness and cultural dexterity. There is now a way to gain that through immersing yourself in other cultures.”

It is possible to become a globally aware employee even if you work domestically and have never had the opportunity to go abroad, Haupt says. Examples include getting involved with the different cultures in employees’ own communities or by studying and becoming educated about other cultures.

Time Abroad Boosts Global Competencies

Even with these creative approaches, actual time spent abroad is one of the most powerful ways to gain the global competencies increasingly sought by employers, Haupt says. For this reason, she encourages college students to study, intern or travel abroad, if possible, before they enter the workforce.

“I never did a study abroad,” says Haupt, “but I’ve found just how much my own personal travel to other countries has expanded my mind.”

These travels have taken her to Italy, Greece, Switzerland, and Kenya, her namesake, where she spent three weeks discovering the country and its culture, as well as learning about its political and education systems in part by meeting the family of their local guide.

Employees Gain International Experience Through Project Belize

This global interest plays out strongly in Haupt’s role as a leader in national corporate responsibility for PwC, especially with the company’s Project Belize program, which since 2008 has sent PwC partners, principals, staff, and interns to teach financial literacy in Belize.

“We saw almost immediate impact when we began our work in Belize,” Haupt says. “Children’s eyes were lighting up with what they were learning, and they were growing in confidence. We also saw how much our PwC volunteers were learning and growing through that cultural immersion.”

Project Belize is an innovative program designed to help solve social and economic challenges in developing countries by integrating financial literacy and entrepreneurship into the public school curriculum. Since the program’s inception, PwC has contributed 30,000 pounds of school supplies, awarded approximately 700 high school equivalent scholarships so students can continue their education, and delivered its financial literacy curriculum to nearly 5,000 students with the help of nearly 1,200 talented and enthusiastic PwC partners, principals, staff, and interns.

“Our people are continually coming to us and saying, ‘what more can we do?’” Haupt says. “For our employees who don’t get to experience Project Belize, we entice them to go out domestically and do what they can in their own community’s classrooms with our ‘Earn Your Future’ curriculum.”