UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School


Want to do business with the world? Understand it.


To help business professionals develop the cross-cultural savvy required for global business success, the Global Business Center (GBC) at UNC Kenan-Flagler will offer a new certificate program, “Cross-Cultural Savvy for Global Business,” Jan. 31 – Feb. 1, 2014 at UNC Kenan-Flagler.

The two-day workshop will be led by seven experts in intercultural communication for business, including Joy Huang (MBA ’99), Connect East LLC president and an expert in bridging the culture divide for U.S. and Chinese executives.

Huang came to the United States from China and has first-hand experience in navigating the unknowns in a foreign culture. “There were a lot of mistakes that I made that I wish someone had warned me about,” she says. “Business today is global. No matter what industry they work in, everyone will need to have some understanding of the world in order to be successful. It’s imperative that (professionals) learn to understand other cultures.”

While most U.S. business professionals will probably never know everything about the Chinese culture, “the most important thing is to learn to respect and collaborate with people who think and work differently,” says Huang.

To give a small taste of what workshop participants will learn, here are a few tips from Huang on doing business in China.

  • In communicating with the Chinese, never assume, always confirm. To be effective, understand that the Chinese have an indirect and implicit communication style and adapt your messaging accordingly.
  • Invest in relationship building with your Chinese suppliers, partners and employees. It will have big payoff. 
  • Do not push transparency too hard or too fast, regardless of whether you’re on the factory shop floor or in the board room.
  • Plan for extra time caused by a lengthy decision-making process, communication misunderstandings and unexpected quality issues.
  • Invest in dedicated personnel and resources to train, coach and provide problem solving assistance to your Chinese partners and employees.

To learn more from Huang and other experts in intercultural business communication, register for the “Cross-Cultural Savvy for Global Business” certificate program.