For a future global manager, knowing a few foreign languages can be helpful.
My first stint with foreign language was learning Danish. It was not successful, and this gave me valuable lessons to change my strategy of learning languages. During this program, I was mostly in my home town with no language school to study. I decided to study the top business languages of the world step by step. I was keen on German from past few years, so I have started with it. I spent lot of time in finding good online resources for self-learning resources and using them to develop my methods of language learning. Be it watching movies, listening to serials on you-tube or undergoing language exchange with native speakers, it was not an easy task. It failed many times, and I lost patience sometimes. But gradually, I developed some ways to learn any foreign language easily. I have later tried this with Spanish and Russian and I am going to repeat them to learn more languages in future.
Google Map & Wikipedia:
It was my favorite free time activity. I have spent a lot of time on Google Maps scanning the entire world map, finding any random corner on it and reading about it on Wikipedia. Now, I understand time zone differences easily and can set meeting timings with people from any parts of the world.
Practicing knowledge in real life
I always believe that, any gained knowledge cannot become a skill, until it has been tested in real situations. I did not have luxury to do internships, so my best bet was to turn to the surrounding environment and make the best use of available online/offline situations. I have used course projects to test my skills and expanding my knowledge about different regions of the world.
Side studies/helping others/volunteering projects:
Along with course projects, I have done some side studies out of my own interest. Some of them are: ‘How to maintain discipline in lines in crowded temples of India’, ‘Marketing in megacities in 2020.’
I observed a bridge under construction in my vicinity continuously for 2 months and made notes to test different project management tools. Using knowledge of finance, I helped a street vendor to solve his debt worries and another street vendor to increase his revenues. I helped an NGO in Sierra Leone to improve their agricultural activities and a Mexican firm to improve their packaging efficiency.
Social Media/Other readings: I needed to spend the majority of my time in my home town Kota, Rajasthan to keep my expenses low and get things done with a minimum of resources.
The downside: It offered very little possibility for me to have face to face interactions on topics of my interest. I have taken this binding as an opportunity turned to the virtual world and became more active on social media.
Especially different groups on LinkedIn/Facebook were good for exchanging information, putting out my thoughts on issues of public policy, project management, leadership, economoics, international trade etc.
I expanded my network to over 100 countries and got many different cultural insights through direct interactions with native people. As I could not buy the case studies; I have read easily available resources like company annual reports, published reports of international institutions (world bank, IMF, EU etc) to gain the necessary depth in different economic sectors.
So that is it! Now is only to see how far I can get.
Ankit’s ‘Envisioning 21st century global manager’ project
For the past two years, this was Ankit’s full time job, taking 20+ courses from different universities, self-learning three foreign languages and extensively studying business and political updates around the globe. He studied different cultures to prepare himself for “negotiating/working in the multicultural environment”, he says.
As part of his program, Ankit took courses at MIT Open Course Ware, OCWC(Open Course Ware Consortium), OYC (Open Yale Courses), OLI (Open Learning Initiative), Organizations (WTO, Copenhagen Business Center) as well as on other MOOC platforms (edX, Coursera, NovoEd, Open2study, Alison). It is his own invented program.
Ankit also shared his experience here.