We usually think of international skills as being applied when we head to other countries.

But in fact, global skills will be more important than ever even if you do not leave the U.S.


Because many business teams will include a large number of immigrants. Co-workers and managers will need cross cultural skillsets and an understanding of different styles of management and business experience that come from different countries.

In my career in high tech, it was common for 50-75% of my team members to have been born in other countries. Many had graduated from U.S. universities and stayed on to work in the U.S.

I would not be an ideal candidate to manage these teams due to my lack of cross-cultural knowledge. This is a critical point that all workers should be thinking about – especially in fields where working side by side with immigrants is or soon will be common.

Within 20 years, 100% of the U.S. population growth will come from importing immigrants, most of whom are likely to be well educated and highly skilled – and by definition, have international experience that many Americans lack. Because of this, the importance of gaining global knowledge is not just important but critical to career success.

Update: More details on how those with ambition and international skills are heading up U.S. businesses.

It is a job that Laxman Narasimhan could never have imagined for himself when growing up in Pune, India. But starting this October, Narasimhan will succeed one of the world’s most famous entrepreneurs, Howard Schultz, to become the new chief executive of Starbucks.

His journey to the top of a global icon started humbly and most notably with an MBA. The now 55-year-old Narasimhan has said he had to sell belongings and then borrow money to arrange for his visa to the U.S. and his studies at the Wharton School of Business in the early 1990s. During one summer, when he attended school in Germany, he only had enough money to pay for just one meal a day, losing ten pounds of weight in the process.

Like Indra Nooyi, born in Madras, and Satya Nadella, born in Hyderabad, Narasimhan has climbed his way to the very top of the corporate world with one critical step on that ladder: ban MBA from an elite U.S. business school. Nooyi, who earned her graduate business degree from the Yale School of Management, paved the way by becoming the CEO of PepsiCo. Nadella, who earned his MBA from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, went to the top of Microsoft as chairman and CEO.


Narasimhan joins a growing list of Indian-origin CEOs taking charge of major U.S. companies. In addition to Nadella at Microsoft and Pichai at Alphabet, there’s also IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, Adobe CEO and Berkeley Haas MBA Shantanu Narayen, and Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal.

Last year, cosmetics giant Chanel had appointed Leena Nair, former top HR executive at Unilever, as its global CEO. In 2020 shoemaker Bata had appointed its Indian head Sandeep Kataria as its global CEO. Earlier in 2018, Vasant Narasimhan was appointed as the CEO of Novartis. Other Indian origin executives who have headed global firms include Ajay Banga who was the CEO of MasterCard for over a decade till early last year and Nooyi who stepped down as the CEO of PepsiCo in 2018.

“What was initially a trickle of water has turned into a Tsunami,” observes Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Mahindra Group. “The appointment of Indian-origin CEOs at the world’s most iconic companies is now an unstoppable trend. International boardrooms consider them to be almost safe leadership bets,” he said.

Poets&Quants – A Wharton MBA, Born In India, Will Now Lead One Of The World’s Iconic Brands (poetsandquants.com)

Narasimhan joins a growing list of Indian-origin CEOs taking charge of major U.S. companies. In addition

By definition, those who have immigrated from other countries are, due to immigration rules, generally highly skilled and educated. Further, by definition, they have global skills that typical inward focused Americans do not have. It’s all about global skills and global thinking. India has 5x more people age 20-29 than does the U.S. Stated another way, just 20% of their new worker class equals the entire U.S. new worker class. It is obvious that many smart, ambitious workers in India can and will continue to migrate to the U.S., particularly while the young worker cohort in the U.S. is now smaller than its predecessor.

It is essential for ambitious U.S. workers to embrace global skills. If we do not, the U.S. will have lost its competitive edge, and our job will indeed go to immigrants who have the right skills at the right time and at the right place in U.S. firms.

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