I am currently a director of York Associates in York, UK responsible for operational management and change.
I was brought up in the South of England and rural Mid Wales and then moved to Scotland to study at the University of Glasgow. Although I spent my formative years within the UK, I was already learning about the great differences of opinion about our history and the nature of the different cultures that exist in my own native country. I think this is what first sparked my interest in intercultural communication and cultural transitions.
After completing an MA focussing on English and politics, I decided that in order to be able to travel and learn more about other cultures and their political contexts, I should train to teach English as a Foreign Language, thinking that TEFL would be a way to fund myself during my travels. In fact it was the beginning of a long journey and my whole career thereafter.
By the end of the 80s the Berlin wall was falling and I went with many others to help break it down. Following that, I began my teaching career by spending a Summer teaching English to groups of complete beginners near Prague in Czech Republic. I experienced the changes going on as a result of the transition from a communist political system to capitalism. As much as I enjoyed being in Eastern Europe, a strong interest in the tropics lured me to South America. I was interested in looking at the transitions that had gone on from the dictatorships which ended in the mid-80s to the democracies that exist today.
As I travelled, I taught English and in 1994 settled in a small town in North East Brazil to set up the first language school in the area, deciding that this would be more profitable than working for someone else. As the Brazilian political scene and economy became stronger and more stable, international companies increased their presence in the region and the demand for training and international services increased. I ran and developed the business until 2008, developing courses and training professionals in the tourism, banking, university, local government and cellulose sectors. I have a particular interest in the development and transformation of Brazil. More recently, I have been looking at the transformation of the Amazon region since the 1800s.
I have had hands on experience of managing change in small organisations and have trained managers leading change in large organisations. In my current role at York Associates, I deal with change on a daily basis. In the world today, we are all faced with change. The main lesson I have learned is that we have to work extremely hard on developing our communication skills. We have to learn to communicate the right information, in the right way at the right time to the right people. In order to do this we have to develop a great deal of awareness and adopt a variety of communication styles. My mission now with York Associates is to deepen my understanding of change in a global context and to support professionals by developing their communication skills for change.
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