The adventures started right away after I received my engineering degrees from CU Boulder and UT Austin and moved to Alaska. After ten years there and an assignment in the L48, I was fortunate to be offered a transfer to Jakarta, Indonesia. What an experience! Developing an exciting project with the government of Indonesia stretched and enriched me in ways that I had never anticipated - both professionally and personally. There are entirely new dimensions involved in international work that are challenging and rewarding and rarely encountered in domestic assignments. The new perspectives and breadth of thinking that I developed from the diversity of thought I encountered internationally significantly advanced my communication and leadership abilities, and my relationship and management skills. Working with multi-cultural teams to achieve the best outcome possible in a foreign legal system necessitated development of a deep appreciation for the cultural and language nuances of each nationality. You definitely learn to listen and adapt while retaining your core values and integrity.
After 5 years in Indonesia I transferred to the UK for an assignment of several years that covered a range of European, North African and Asian countries. I attribute many of the successes I had in several of these countries to the skills I developed early on in Indonesia. These successes ultimately led to achieving a very senior role back in the US.
Reflecting back, I can confidently say that any international experiences that someone can obtain during their university days or early in their career will pay dividends, even after returning to domestic assignments. You become much more attuned to the happenings around the world and realize how inter-connected we all truly are. These days when I see a major event play out on CNN, it's much easier to put things in perspective - and to think of things from different perspectives - because of all my experiences with people and cultures that I've interacted with during my international assignments.
And my family? Although it was not always easy, my wife and children also feel very fortunate to have experienced many years of living abroad. They are confident travelers - curious about other cultures and other places - and my children, especially, have a unique and broad perspective from growing up overseas.