Caras con Cultura

Over the past few weeks, my team and I have had the pleasure of working with the team at Caras con Causa and Bibi from Amizade. It is crazy to think that we are already halfway through the project, but it is just as crazy to think about how much I’ve learned already, in a number of different areas. I came into this project with a general sense of what the Puerto Rican culture is like, but I didn’t know much about how they conduct business. However, it did not take long to realize what one of the things they value most is, both within and outside of conducting business.

The people of Puerto Rico are drawn so close together, not only because of their physical proximity, but also because of the type of people they are and the struggles they go through together. That being said, it’s no secret how important strong relationships are in their culture and how fundamental they are to doing business in Puerto Rico. In contrast to the rigorous, stringent, and to-the-point way that business is conducted in the United States, the priority for Puerto Ricans is to create a foundation by developing a relationship and moving forward from there. I thought this contrast would be a challenge for our group for a few reasons. First and foremost, this entire process is being completed virtually. I was worried that this would prevent us from building that connection early on as its so common that people struggle to really get to know one another over zoom, if at all. In our case, I am very thankful to be working with such friendly and outgoing  people from our client company. Secondly, I was nervous that this contrast in norms would create a disconnect between my team and our client. I didn’t want them to think that we would disregard the importance of having a relationship with them because of the short length of the project and how we just jump right into it from the start. It is a good thing that my team has been able to recognize the value and need for a strong relationship early on, but it is still something we can keep working on moving forward.

With regards to my perspective of global business, it has changed in the sense that I now see it as something so much bigger than I saw it before. Now that I’ve had the privilege of taking part in global business, I have an understanding of just how vast and in depth of a scope there is in the “world of global business”. Similar to the challenge with cultural differences I anticipated are some of the things I’ve learned about global business thus far. While it may seem self-explanatory, I have gained a greater appreciation for the significance of trust and communication in conducting global business. When you take a step back and think about it, you realize you are working with someone who is likely thousands of miles away from you and probably has a much different background than you. When you look at it this way, how can you even begin to do business without having a sense of trust? Or without effective communication? It is crucial to have that sense of trust and meaningful communication in order to make the work being done on such a broad scale seem so much more familiar. Overall, these two factors alone make the job run smoother and make for better deliverables. Having a strong foundation of trust and communication and acknowledging the vast scale are merely a few of the elements of that make for successful global business.

I believe it is so important to keep learning more about the culture of the country we are working with and to constantly challenge our perspectives of global business. And as we are at the halfway point in this project, I am both excited by how much I’ve learned so far and to see how my team and I will grow moving forward.