On Saturday, 12th July 2014, TAPMI was graced by the presence of Mr. Madhavan P B, Director Purchasing (APAC) – Ford Motor Company, to interact with TAPMIans about current Management trends. The particular focus of this session was on working in a multi-cultural environment. Cultural sensitivity being a trending theme in the management issues of today, this topic immediately struck a chord with all the students present.
The session started with a humorous video about the issues people face due to cultural mismatch, and the humour continued in the form of Mr. Madhavan’s anecdotes and interesting insights into the intricacies of the integrated corporate world. Essentially, the topics dealt with in the span of 2 hours were Cultural Awareness and its criticality, the contributors to the differences among cultures and their manifestations, what we can do to alleviate the problems, and finally the benefits of implementing approaches in the direction of cultural sensitivity.
Various facets of the argument that contributed to this discussion were touched upon by Mr Madhavan as well as the students with whom he was interacting. Different experiences of the diverse group and his expertise and vast corporate experience ensured a rich and fruitful exchange of ideas, and many of them were centred on the small things that we observe regularly but seldom notice, such as Language, Accent, Time zones and consciousness, Education, Experience and Priorities.
Finally, going deeper into the issue, the manifestations of the various aspects of culture from individual-oriented to community-oriented organizations were discussed with gusto, such as Independence manifesting into Interdependence, Egalitarianism into Status, Risk into Restraint, and Directness into Indirectness etc.
The net result of all these discussions was that the students gained a focused view of the issues and probable solutions of cultural differences, and Mr Madhavan went away with the knowledge of a large number of points of view on the issues. The healthy discussion generated has sparked the interest of the students into subjects such as Cross-Cultural Management, and we sincerely hope that we will keep having such sessions with Mr Madhavan in the future as well.