Experience No 1:

Working on an organic farm in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada

In 2012, I decided to live abroad for the first time. I travelled to various countries before that but now it was time to dig deeper into a culture that was not my own. So, I went to Canada to work on an organic farm. The farmers had their own chickens and were selling food at their bakery that was not only homemade but also home grown. And what’s more, they ate meat only once a week and treated that Sunday barbecue as a special occasion. The experience I gained there introduced me to a more conscious way of living in regard to food production and made me aware of the consequences of always having everything available in our supermarkets.

Key takeaway:

Be aware of your environment and the impact you have on it!

Experience No 2:

Studying at the university of Hong Kong, Asia

I spent six months at the University of Hong Kong during my Bachelor’s degree in 2014 and there I learned that my way of doing things is not the only way to reach my goals. Working with Chinese students on various projects taught me that changing perspectives is a beneficial way of getting my work done.

Key takeaway:

Approaching a problem form a different angle is key!

Experience No 3:

Working at a multinational fashion company in New York USA

My internship at Hugo Boss, New York in 2015 was a pivotal point that eventually led to the work that I am doing now. I was conducting in-store surveys and was making suggestions for optimization which awoke my interest for a survey-based training approach. Coined with the openness of my supervisors and their willingness to share their knowledge and experience with me, I was able to discover my passion for people development.

Key takeaway:

Personal and professional growth is crucially influenced by knowledge sharing and the willingness to listen!

Experience No 4:

Volunteering as teacher at Tuban National School, Java, Indonesia

In 2016, just after I finished my Bachelor and before I started my Master, I went to Indonesia to teach English and Cultural Studies at a high school for three months. With the country having a Muslim majority population, I had to fully adapt myself to that culture in order to be respectful of it. I wore a hijab to school and discussed the Quran with the director of the school. In that three months, I gained insights into a religion that, in the western world, is often stigmatized for their beliefs. And although I did not agree with many aspects of the Muslim religion, it was still important for me to make that experience and to disentangle my biases. Despite the differences in culture, health care and hygiene standards, teaching at that high school was probably the most rewarding job I have ever had, with kids waiting in front of my house for more lessons, even after school had finished.

Key take-away:

Immersing oneself in a culture that is different from one’s own helps to overcome biases!

Experience No 5:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Already during my Bachelor’s program in Human Resources Management, I developed a high interest in understanding people’s behavior patterns: What motivates them and how they make decisions. My desire to understand that from a psychological point of view grew during my time in Indonesia and eventually led to my decision to do a Master’s program on Work and Organisational Psychology in Amsterdam. For my final thesis, I succeeded in developing a recruiting tool that can match companies with suiting applicants based on their personality profiles.

Key takeaway:

Research opens up new possibilities and allows to dig deeper!

Experience No 6:

Melbourne, Australia

In Melbourne, Australia, where I am currently doing my PhD on the intersection of Open Innovation and Human Resources Management, I am exposed to cultures from all over the world. Melbourne has the 10th largest immigrant population among world metropolitan areas and is home to people from 200 countries and territories, who speak over 233 languages and dialects. Over 20% of the students here at RMIT are international, leaving me with the great opportunity to work in a highly multicultural environment. During my now two years of living and learning here in Melbourne, I found that people with multicultural experiences, regardless of the specific cultures, showed a higher ability to adjust to new and different environments. These skills appeared not only to be helpful to work in a multicultural context but also to be successful in an innovative surrounding. This personal experience inspired me to use research to look deeper into this phenomenon and to study the impact of multicultural experiences on innovative work behavior.

Key takeaway:

Every culture has something new to bring to the table and that “new” opens up completely new opportunities and in many cases innovation!