What It Takes to Work Across Borders and Cultures: Advice from Global Professionals

The world is becoming more interconnected and interdependent than ever before. Technology, trade, travel, and migration are creating new opportunities and challenges for people who want to work across borders and cultures. Whether you want to pursue a career in international development, diplomacy, business, education, or any other field, you need to be prepared for the global marketplace.

But what does it take to succeed in a global career? What are the skills, competencies, and mindsets that are essential for working effectively and ethically in a diverse and dynamic world? And how can you develop and showcase these skills to stand out from the crowd and advance your career goals?

To answer these questions, we spoke to three successful professionals who have built their careers on a global scale. They shared their insights, experiences, and tips on how to prepare for a global career.

Meet the experts

1. Olivia Mitchell – Digital Entrepreneur in Australia

  • Background: Founder and CEO of DigitizeHub, a leading digital marketing agency.
  • Location: Sydney, Australia.
  • Expertise: Navigating diverse business landscapes across Asia.
  • Success Factor: Blending creativity and technology to transform startups into global brands.

2. Alex Chang – HR Recruiter in Singapore

  • Background: Accomplished HR recruiter specializing in expatriate placements.
  • Location: Singapore.
  • Origins: Born and raised in Shanghai, China.
  • Expertise: Bridging international talent with businesses in Singapore.
  • Insight: In-depth understanding of diverse skill sets and cultural dynamics.

3. Alessandra Costa – European Expat Explorer

  • Background: Seasoned European expat with experience across various countries.
  • Location: Originally from Rome, Italy.
  • Journey: Worked in finance in London to the fashion industry in Paris.
  • Insight: Shares experiences on personal growth, challenges, and cross-cultural encounters.
  • Expertise: Navigating the dynamic landscape of expat living in Europe.

Olivia Mitchell

”Living and working abroad made me a stronger person.”

Alex Chang

”I can tell if someone will be a happy expat within 5 minutes.”

Alessandra Costa

“The best thing I’ve ever done is lived in other countries.”

The skills you need for a global career

According to our experts, there are some key skills that are crucial for a global career, regardless of the specific sector or role. These skills include:

  • Communication: The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with people from different cultures, languages, and backgrounds. This involves not only speaking and writing clearly and persuasively, but also listening actively and empathetically, and adapting your style and tone to the context and audience.
  • Collaboration: The ability to work well with others, both within and across teams, organizations, and countries. This involves not only sharing ideas and information, but also respecting and valuing diversity, resolving conflicts, and building trust and rapport.
  • Creativity: The ability to think outside the box and come up with new and original ideas, solutions, and approaches. This involves not only being curious and open-minded, but also being flexible and adaptable, and taking risks and learning from failures.
  • Critical thinking: The ability to analyze and evaluate information, arguments, and perspectives from multiple sources and angles. This involves not only being logical and rational, but also being aware and critical of your own assumptions, biases, and values, and recognizing and challenging those of others.
  • Cultural competence: The ability to understand and appreciate the similarities and differences between your own and other cultures, and to act accordingly. This involves not only being knowledgeable and respectful, but also being sensitive and responsive, and avoiding stereotypes and judgments.

The competencies you need for a global career

In addition to the skills, our experts also highlighted some competencies that are essential for a global career. These competencies are the combination of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that enable you to perform effectively and ethically in a given context. These competencies include:

  • Global awareness: The competency to understand and appreciate the complexity and diversity of the world, and the interconnections and interdependencies between its people, places, and issues. This involves not only being informed and curious, but also being responsible and compassionate, and recognizing and respecting the dignity and rights of all human beings.
  • Global citizenship: The competency to act as a responsible and active member of the global community, and to contribute to its sustainable and peaceful development. This involves not only being engaged and committed, but also being ethical and accountable, and aligning your actions with your values and principles.
  • Global leadership: The competency to inspire and influence others to achieve a common vision and goal, and to create positive change in the world. This involves not only being visionary and strategic, but also being collaborative and inclusive, and empowering and enabling others to grow and thrive.

The mindsets you need for a global career

Finally, our experts also emphasized some mindsets that are vital for a global career. These mindsets are the ways of thinking and feeling that shape your behavior and attitude towards yourself, others, and the world. These mindsets include:

  • Growth mindset: The mindset that believes that you can always learn and improve, and that challenges and feedback are opportunities for growth. This involves not only being confident and optimistic, but also being humble and reflective, and seeking and embracing learning and feedback.
  • Entrepreneurial mindset: The mindset that sees problems as opportunities, and that takes initiative and action to create value and impact. This involves not only being creative and innovative, but also being proactive and resourceful, and experimenting and iterating.
  • Global mindset: The mindset that sees the world as a whole, and that embraces and leverages diversity and complexity. This involves not only being open and curious, but also being adaptable and resilient, and integrating and synthesizing.

How to develop and showcase your skills, competencies, and mindsets

So, how can you develop and showcase these skills, competencies, and mindsets for a global career? Our experts shared some tips and resources that can help you in your journey.

  • Online courses: There are many online courses that can help you learn and improve your skills, competencies, and mindsets for a global career. Some of the platforms that offer these courses include Coursera, edX, Alison, and United Nations e-Learning courses. You can choose from a variety of topics, such as global issues, intercultural communication, digital marketing, social entrepreneurship, and more. You can also earn certificates or diplomas that can demonstrate your achievements and qualifications.
  • Languages: Learning a foreign language can not only enhance your communication skills, but also your cultural competence and global awareness. There are many online platforms and apps that can help you learn and practice languages, such as Duolingo, Babbel, Rosetta Stone, and Memrise. You can also join online communities and forums where you can interact and exchange with native speakers, such as HelloTalk, Tandem, and iTalki.
  • Networking: Networking can help you build and maintain relationships with people who can support your global career goals, such as mentors, peers, employers, and clients. There are many online platforms and events that can help you network with people from different countries and sectors, such as LinkedIn, Meetup, Eventbrite, and Global Shapers. You can also join online groups and associations that are relevant to your interests and aspirations, such as Global Network for Young Professionals, International Association of Professionals, and Global Women Network.
  • Volunteering: Volunteering can help you gain valuable experience and skills, as well as contribute to a cause that you care about. There are many online platforms and organizations that can help you find and apply for volunteering opportunities, both locally and globally, such as UN Volunteers, Idealist, VolunteerMatch, and Go Overseas. You can also create your own volunteering project or initiative, based on your passions and talents, and seek funding and support from platforms such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and GlobalGiving.
  • Traveling: Traveling can help you broaden your horizons and perspectives, as well as expose you to different cultures and realities. There are many online platforms and resources that can help you plan and book your travels. You can also look for opportunities to work, study, or intern abroad, through platforms such as Workaway, Erasmus+, AIESEC, and Remote Year.


A global career can be rewarding and fulfilling, but also challenging and demanding. To succeed in a global career, you need to have the skills, competencies, and mindsets that can help you work effectively and ethically in a diverse and dynamic world. You also need to be proactive and resourceful in developing and showcasing these skills, competencies, and mindsets, through various online and offline opportunities and activities. By doing so, you can not only advance your career goals, but also make a positive difference in the world.

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