Inside Aperian Global: Erik Dobos
In our monthly interview series, Inside Aperian Global, you will get to know the passionate people that drive Aperian Global’s mission, values, and day-to-day operations. Aperian Global’s employees will provide you with a sneak peek into their work lives and share stories about themselves. This month, we asked Erik Dobos, our Senior Global Account Manager based in Chicago, IL, USA, a few questions.
Erik, you have been with Aperian Global since July 2015. How did you become interested in the cross-cultural consulting industry and what made you join Aperian Global?
I feel as though I’ve been connected to the industry from birth. My earliest memories involve navigating cross-cultural challenges on a daily basis, due in large part to my younger brother and I being hearing children of deaf parents. I am also a second generation American; my father and his family arrived in the United States as refugees of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. My early professional development was spent living and working in Germany, followed by ten years in Chicago working in a variety of roles for global multinational organizations, but never within the cross-cultural consulting industry. I was introduced to GlobeSmart® several years ago and was amazed to find out that a company like Aperian Global existed. Last year, I found myself advocating for Aperian Global’s services at my former company and I realized that I would rather advocate from a first-hand perspective, which motivated me to pursue my current role.
You are a part of our Global Account Management team. Given your own experience of having lived and worked in Germany, how would you say this international mindset is benefiting your daily work with a range of diverse clients in different industries and locations?
The experience enhanced my self-awareness in the midst of diverse personal and professional environments. While I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to grow up, live, and work with different cultures, I am still limited in many ways to my western understanding and experience. However, I believe that I am much better equipped to adapt and learn quickly from each unique client experience, due to the fact that I have established a foundation of self-awareness, empathy, appreciation, and curiosity for people, places, and ideas that are foreign to me.
Business jargon and leadership content often use sports metaphors or sports-specific expressions (like getting to the end zone, sprint to the finish line, etc.). As a former athlete and sports fan, why do you think sport is so appealing to leaders?
Human beings are competitive by nature and competition is a natural part of both business and sport. Sport is appealing to leaders for numerous other commonalities in addition to competition, such as strategy, pride, identity, teamwork, etc. It is interesting to think of these as commonalities of culture as well. As leaders in any setting are able to better understand cultural differences, they will be better equipped to optimize strategy, improve teamwork, and inspire a common identity from a seemingly disparate collection of individuals. Of course, human beings are irrational as well, so there is always a chance that a leader will use a catchy sports metaphor to inspire teamwork rather than proven research into how inspiring cultural awareness improves long-term team outcomes.
The sports industry with many professional leagues has been criticized for its lack of diversity in management and coaching staff. Why, in your opinion, does it matter to be representative of your fans and players as a club, league, or association?
Similar to the previous response, there is something in our human nature and unconscious bias that compels us to seek out and trust those who look, sound, and act like ourselves, and research shows that, when we employ this strategy to promote those who are like us, it will be to our own detriment in the long term. Professional clubs, leagues, and associations will achieve better, more sustainable long-term benefits by proactively promoting and implementing strategies that increase diversity within their organizational ranks. This includes not only racial diversity, but also gender, sexual, generational, and disability, to list several others.
Tell us something we don’t know about you yet.
Basketball always makes my life better.