Global education in a globalised world: the key to your success

Global education in a globalised world: the key to your success

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Webster University is committed to an education within a dynamic and international environment. Their student body represents more than 50 countries from around the world and their staff and faculty are just as diverse.

The world is more interconnected than ever before, in two ways. With the internet and social media it is very easy to connect in your private life and also professionally. Secondly, travelling is much faster and easier in the world of today.

Having a global mindset is important not only for your career, but also for you as a person. If you want to be happy and successful as an individual you need more skills to deal with the global world we live in now. It’s a big difference with 20 years ago.

Being a global citizen means that wherever you are, you basically feel at home. Your reference is the world as a hole, not just one city, one country. You have a curiosity in what is happening in the world around you, in other parts of the world, and you also care about it.

What is a global mindset?

Having a global mindset means that:
you have curiosity and a willingness to learn
you are open towards different cultures, different nationalities
you are aware of cultural differences and how to adjust to them
you are able to listen, to observe, to learn and to understand their way of thinking, their way of communicating
you are a flexible person, willing to adapt your approach depending on who the person is in front of you
you are happy in doing it, seeing it as a wonderful journey to find the right way to connect and communicate with people from all corners of the world
you respect the other person, even if he or she acts very differently
you don't think that your own culture is better than someone else’s

Essential for your future career

Most companies no longer focus on just one country or region, and companies are much more connected than ever before. If you want to be successful in your career, you need to develop this global mindset.

Many students at Webster University have a job lined up even before they graduate. That is because they bring this global mindset and the skillset that’s connected to it that’s attractive to international companies.

I recently attended a business conference where I asked a CEO from an Indian company what the one thing is that they look for in candidates. "A global mindset", was the short and immediate answer. It’s an Indian company, with offices all over the world.

Having a global mindset means that you understand how communication is different in different cultures. For example, observing body language is so important when you communicate with people from other countries.

You can’t approach a Japanese businessman the way you approach an American. When I had business dealings with the Japanese, I learned to clear my whole agenda for that day. You have to know that you need to bring patience and a lot of time to Japanese business meetings.

You need to have a willingness to go along with what it means to work for an international company, to be willing to live and work abroad, and to also enjoy it.

Seeing more career opportunities

Having this attitude and approach to life can be decisive in how your career progresses. When a chance for promotion or a new position comes around and you don’t have this global mindset, there is a chance you will be ignored and someone else will be chosen.

There are many opportunities in life that you will only see if you have this global mindset, because it also leads to a flexibility and an openness that translates to more than just cultural awareness and sensitivity.

That’s because it makes you a creative person. From a business point of view, companies want problem solvers. And in my experience, solutions to problems are nine times out of 10 the result of creative thinking. Gaining a global mindset will let you develop a certain thinking you can use in any working environment.

The responsibility of universities

Universities should be able to offer a pluralistic perspective on international issues. The classroom experience needs to be a global one. Students need to be from a few different countries. Ideally, teachers should also be from different countries.

If you have all Dutch students in a class instead of a Russian, a Chinese, a Nigerian, and so on, the discussion about international issues will be a very different one.

You need diversity in a student’s educational environment. If you only have ambassadors’ sons and daughters in the class room, it’s not enough. There should also be students with scholarships, because students need to have an understanding of that as well.

Going global is a must

Not everybody has a global mindset. Some people are afraid of it, that globalisation and other cultures will interfere with their own culture and their own national identity.

You can embrace diversity, by being self-confident in your own values, your own cultural and national identity. Then you don’t need to feel threatened.

For international business, it’s a no-brainer that this is a natural development. But if you are living and working in a local environmnet, you might think differently.

Everyday life is a learning opportunity

I believe education has an important role in developing an open mind. It starts as a child, and as a teenager when you go to high school and then later to the university. The willingness to embrace the global mindset starts very early on. I live in Amsterdam with many different nationalities and cultures around us.

I want my children to play with the Polish kids, the Turkish kids and the Moroccan kids. There definitely is a role for the parents there. I travelled a lot and that is how I developed my global mindset.

The increasingly globalised world, and the need for people with a global mindset, has increased over the last five years and this trend will continue. It’s a point of no return if you ask me. The process of becoming interconnected will only intensify. It is not temporary.

Open yourself up to the world

This is the reason why it is more important than ever for students to aspire to become citizens of the world. Working to achieve a truly global mindset will benefit not only your career, but also your quality of life. It will make you much happier as a person if you see and embrace the world as the beautiful and diverse playground it is.

Prof. Dr. Jean Paul van Marissing firmly believes in the development of global citizens, and serves as Director of Webster University Leiden and Amsterdam.

Jean Paul Van Marissing


Jean Paul Van Marissing

Prof. Dr. Jean Paul van Marissing is the director of Webster University Leiden & Amsterdam since 2010. Before he was a partner and lawyer for 12 years with two American...

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