Using My Education and Experience in International Consulting
By Ashford University Staff
Dr. Marvee Marr is the program chair for the BA in International Business in the Forbes School of Business & Technology™, and rightly so. In her new series on teaching and working abroad, Dr. Marr shared how she used resources and made connections to work abroad[Office1] . In her newest installment, she details how she used her education and experience to pursue international consulting.
How I Worked & Consulted Abroad Using My Education
In 2012, I returned to the US from working and living abroad. My five years of teaching executive MBA courses in a variety of cities in Central and Eastern Europe had enhanced my knowledge base and skill level a great deal and expanded my network of international associates and colleagues (who would become invaluable to my consulting assignments). That, in conjunction with my MBA and DBA (partially earned as I lived in Eastern Europe), had unexpectedly helped prepare me for additional international adventures.
Between 2013 and 2015, I was offered, and usually accepted, a host of consulting, training, and speaking engagements in Europe. While I was busy with my full-time job commitments in the US, I tried to accept any offer in order to build my skill levels, beef up my CV, and continue to enjoy my life of travel. The networking contacts I made in my five-year stay in Europe kept the offers coming in at a regular pace.
For example, I was asked to present on the challenges of globalization on training and development at an on-campus seminar outside of Geneva, Switzerland. The sponsors of the conference had seen an article I wrote on the subject and connected with my previous program director, who then contacted me. In another instance, I was asked to audit a university enrollment department and find solutions to the bottleneck issues. I even taught a four-day Human Resources MBA residency in London one summer. Thus, two or three times a year, I found myself called upon to use my education, experience, and expertise to train and inform in an international setting.
Where Consulting Abroad for Work May Take You
In September of 2013, as I sat in Platteville, WI prepping for my first-term classes at University of Wisconsin (UWP), my heart and soul belonged in the wind as my wanderlust urged me to jump on a plane and go anywhere. But alas, I had made a promise to myself to remain living in the US until the ripe old age of retirement. I believed my traveling days were over. To my surprise, they were not.
Less than one month later, I received an email from an acquaintance who worked for an educational consortium in Europe. The email stated that my expertise was needed for training in Prague, Czech Republic. While I had been asked to do trainings for organizations before, this time was the first in which I was sought out and offered a trip across the ocean to give a training. I was thrilled. The task at hand was for me to deliver training on how to effectively teach an online course, and to be the guest speaker at a graduation event. This opportunity was during UWP’s winter break, so off I went on a trip that was paid for by another company, on my first international consulting job. Creating a training session for other professors was challenging, yet enjoyable. The trip, training, and event were a huge success.
Later on, while working for Ashford University, I was invited to give a 40-hour seminar on effective global communication in Beijing, China. The seminar would require me to work two weekends, and train and coach all day. The request came from my previous dean in Slovakia, who contacted me in a pinch to fill in for someone who had cancelled. I found myself conflicted as I already had plans to speak at a training seminar in Prague the same month, all while simultaneously teaching in the Forbes School of Business & Technology at Ashford. The offer in China was enticing and an exciting opportunity, and I knew I had to seize the invitation. As luck would have it, I managed to fit China in directly after Prague. I flew straight from Prague to China and from China back to San Diego.
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Balancing Work Abroad with “Home”
While doing all of this traveling, I was able to fulfill my full-time job responsibilities back home, even though it meant getting up at 4:00 am in China for meetings in San Diego. The moral: anything is possible with innovation, dedication, and good time management skills. The key to juggling consultant work with full-time work is balance and commitment. Even if a consultant job means I have to use my vacation time from my full-time job, if the opportunity is right, the days are used.
Network to Get Work
In 2017, I have continued to field offers for consulting and training on an international scale. While the majority of my consulting work has involved people seeking me out due to my education, experience, and skills, I have now started to look for international consultant work. I look for opportunities online, of course, but more importantly, I network. For example, I met a professor at a conference in San Jose who asked me to be a guest lecturer at his university in Mexico. I met another person in Vancouver, while I was on vacation, and she asked me to provide training for her dissertation students on effective research. In addition, I have joined a host of international organizations, such as National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) and Association of International Business (AIB) that provide great networking and consulting job opportunities. And lastly, I keep myself in a global mindset through research, relationships, and of course, travel.
My path is unique and one I’ve enjoyed, but there are many paths to working and consulting abroad.