Session: The Art of Mastering Cross-Cultural Intelligence
A diverse workforce brings different skills, perspectives, and backgrounds. It is statistically proven that such companies exceed the median financial return in their industry. The benefits of diversity are only truly realized when they are partnered with inclusion and belonging. Diverse teams that cross national borders are becoming the norm with increasing globalization and expanding remote work in technology. An inability to understand and adapt communication and behaviors to cultural context can lead to certain employee groups feeling marginalized or excluded from work related networking events. We are women leaders in technology and were immigrants to America a couple of decades ago. Using personal examples from our experiences such as when managers asked us to "knock the ball out of the park" or "to do Monday morning quarterbacking", we will provide tips and help attendees with strategies to build "cultural intelligence" to allow them to relate and work effectively in diverse teams. These strategies will contribute to engagement and collaboration at an individual, team, organization and societal level.
- Attendees will leave with increased awareness and strategies for adapting communication, gestures and behavior with a cross-cultural lens
- Managers will be able to accurately attribute behavior with a cultural lens
- Organizational leaders will leave with strategies for developing training and learning programs that not only build awareness, but also bring about change in behavior
Neelam Mohanty is a technology leader with 20+ years of experience, currently driving digital transformation at Northwestern Mutual Insurance She has held multiple roles during her career including in delivery leadership, architecture, and operations. She holds a Master’s degree in Computer Science and multiple business and technical certifications.
She is a DE&I champion and her blog on cultural intelligence (linked above) started ranking number one on many generic search terms related to metaphors and idioms after three years of being in existence. She also published an Amazon Kindle book on the same topic.
She is a passionate about this topic because she experienced these barriers firsthand when she was an immigrant to America twenty years ago. She now feels privileged to be in a position where she can educate others and hopes to make their journey a little easier than hers was. With the increase in remote work, especially in technology, she feels that multi-cultural communication challenges will only increase.
Neelam is an engaging speaker and has spoken at multiple technology and women’s forums. She recently spoke at a returnship program targeted towards individuals wanting to re-enter technology after a career break, where most of the audience were women immigrants. She acts as a mentor to this non-profit group regularly. Neelam is also a designated “champion” within Northwestern Mutual’s Women in Tech community where she regularly posts articles and gives advice on diversity, inclusion and belonging. In the past, Neelam has been featured in several technical forums related to women in technology, including "Grace Hopper 22", “Women in Machine Learning” from The Data Standard and “Women in Tech Panel “at The Dog Food Conference focused on Microsoft technologies.
Anu Pakala is a Senior Director, Engineering at Northwestern Mutual. Anu has 20+ years of experience delivering technology solutions to meet business outcomes.
Anu has proven execution experience building strong cross functional teams to deliver large-scale initiatives in a complex environment.
Anu is passionate about delivering results through collaboration, learning and people-oriented leadership. Anu is a member and squad leader of the Northwestern Mutual Women in Technology community, a Women in Technology Champion, mentor in the Asian Employee Resource Group and Women’s Employee Resource Group . She is an active volunteer for promoting STEM education for girls. Anu has an MBA in Marketing and a master’s degree in Management Information Systems from UWM – Milwaukee.
As a woman, a person of color and an immigrant, Anu has experienced the struggles, challenges and successes in navigating a new culture, new career and learnt to integrate and embrace these new experiences and now leads a team of over 100 engineers.