Inside Aperian Global: Lisa Kieffer
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 Lisa Kieffer, our Director of Consulting and Global Talent Manager, a few questions.
Lisa, when you first started out in this field, what attracted you to the cross-cultural consulting industry? What brought you to Aperian Global?
In 1996, I had been working and living internationally for about 8 years when I felt a pull to come back to the US and figure out what was “next.” I kept thinking there had to be a way to use my global experience in support of others. I thought maybe I would go back to school for a Master’s degree, and there I would find some way to use my skills. Then a friend told me about this field, and this small company in Boston that was training employees about different cultures. And he told me that there was a Master’s Degree at Lesley University in Intercultural Relations – it all seemed too perfect! I joined what was then Eaton Consulting Group as the front desk administrator while I entered the Master’s program at Lesley – but I soon found myself leading classroom workshops for our clients and having very little time to go to school or answer the phones!
You are in the unique position of both working closely with our clients on team learning solutions as well as maintaining and developing our network of facilitators. In your opinion, what competencies do consultants in the cross-cultural industry need to bring to the table in addition to traditional consulting capabilities?
Historically the needed skill was much more of a “teacher”competency – the ability to disseminate needed information about cultures in an engaging and thought-provoking way. Consultants in our industry now are put into many challenging feedback and consulting situations that are designed to help our clients grow their cultural competence and global skills in a deeper and more lasting way. Therefore I see a need now for stronger coaching abilities in our Consultants – they need to dig deeper with clients and really challenge them to grow in ways our clients have never thought of.
The diversity of the cross-cultural facilitators and consultants that work with us is huge in terms of their professional experience, educational background, and culture(s) of origin. What do you see as the common thread that makes them successful and effective in their work with our multinational clients?
A common thread for our most successful facilitators is the skill not only to deliver a very interactive and engaging learning program, but also to make strong learning links for the client to their daily business issues. When participants leave a session saying, “That was so helpful!” – we know that the delivery went beyond general learning to being impactful (and helpful!) to their daily global work. This does not require a specific professional experience, educational background, or cultural style – it really is the skill of facilitating a growth experience for participants, and not just sharing knowledge.
A typical day probably doesn’t exist for someone that “wears many hats” at Aperian Global. How do you structure your days and time to manage your different responsibilities?
It would be quite difficult to say that I follow a specific structure to manage all of the responsibilities, given that our delivery schedule and client-facing needs ebb and flow at their own pace. I would probably get bored if I had the same routine every day or week! Essentially, I know that client response comes first – so most of all, I try to stay on top of the client-facing needs at hand. This means often I am doing my “designing” time in the late hours of the evening when the pace has slowed down and I can hear myself think. And I am working hard to find a balance with the Associate Management part of my role.
Lastly, tell us something that we don’t know about you yet.
When living in Boston a number of years ago, I went tandem sky-diving in New Hampshire, and it was awesome!