In a CPD blog post from last summer, I listed four key corporate diplomacy trends for 2012:  Water, Women, Entrepreneurs, Emerging Markets & Economic Development.[1] The list, which I prepared for my lecture at the USC CPD Summer Institute, is by no means exhaustive. The notion of women, especially women advancing in business and women as entrepreneurs will continue to be lead public diplomacy areas for both traditional and corporate diplomats. Additionally, and of foundational importance in pursuing any of the trends listed is the notion of a Global Mindset. Developed by researchers at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, the Global Mindset Inventory is a tool for measuring global skillsets and dispositions for success in global environments. Last fall, while attending GMI certification at Thunderbird, I delved deeper into the three capitals of the GMI which I’ve outlined below. For public diplomacy practitioners, government leaders and corporate diplomats, a global mindset is essential and something all should be aware of as they develop and progress through their careers.

Last December, I travelled to Dubai where I taught in the Hult Pocket MBA for Women Who Aspire to Lead seminar. The setting on Hult’s Dubai campus was an intimate, transformative and engaging platform, unlike any I’ve ever experienced. Hult knows how to create a collaborative learning environment as they are one of the largest international MBA programs globally and their students rotate through campuses in Dubai, Shanghai, London, San Francisco and Boston. The Hult Pocket MBA for Women was a 2-day intensive program which brought 60 mid-career women from throughout the region to their Dubai campus for an extraordinary learning experiment. It should be noted that demand for this seminar was overwhelming — nearly 300 requested to participate in the free seminar as well as others asking if we would reprise the course in Cairo, Tunis, Manama, Doha and Riyadh.  Given the turmoil and upheaval in the region over the past year, it is gratifying to see people are hungry for programs that empower and advance women in business.

Pocket MBA Key Take-Aways & Insights

The faculty and presenters assembled to teach in the pocket MBA ranged from social and behavioral psychologists, to representatives from global management, communications, finance, and HR.  Dr. Amanda Nimon-Peters[2], Managing Director and Founder of Sara Black International, led the course with an opening candid discussion of influences contributing to self-belief and self-doubt, factors that subconsciously affect performance in women. She gave an illuminating overview of relevant experimental social psychology research which included a candid discussion of stereotypes, the negative effects they have on women in the workforce, and how they contribute to self-sabotage on a subconscious level. She further underscored the importance of role models for women and noted that they increase a woman’s belief in her ability to succeed particularly when women have overcome relevant difficulties on their paths to success. Unfortunately, there are too few women in senior leadership identified and showcased for more junior women to emulate. When it comes to leadership role models, men dominate the headlines. Additionally, more and more women in the mid to senior career levels are opting out. Perhaps, capturing and showcasing women who achieve senior leadership positions in the corporate world will inspire more women to continue their paths.

  • Key Take-Aways — Role models matter for women and stereotypes do harm on a subconscious level. Bottom Line: You can’t be what you can’t see.

For my session on Global Mindset, Global Skillsets & Global Leadership, I shared two areas of research which highlight key traits and skillsets for women succeeding globally – The Thunderbird Global Mindset Institute (GMI)[3] and Stanford’s Graduate School of Business[4]. The work of the GMI is spearheaded by Dr. Mansour Javidan[5], Dean of Research at the Thunderbird School of Global Management. I have been following Dr. Javidan’s work for some time now as he served on the Board of Business for Diplomatic Action and is a noted expert on cross-cultural management and executive leadership. Recently, I had the opportunity to become certified to teach the GMI by Thunderbird and the more I engage in the work of the GMI, the more evangelical I become about sharing the insights and tools with global leaders. The GMI defines, measures, and develops a Global Mindset to help global leaders succeed. It tracks nine characteristics of a Global Mindset which have been tied to performance.  The nine characteristics are bucketed into three main areas which Thunderbird refers to as capitals:  Intellectual, Psychological, and Social Capital.

Overview of Thunderbird’s Global Mindset Capitals

  1. Psychological Capital – Enthusiasm for diversity; Self-assurance, self-confidence, and willingness to challenge oneself; Involves leveraging intellectual capital; Toughest to develop, takes a long time, based on experience.
  2. Intellectual Capital – Knowledge of industry, market, competitors, cultures, world events; Easiest to develop.
  3. Social Capital – Ability to build trusting relationships with people from different parts of the world; Involves excellence in networking, listening, and negotiating.

For anyone working in or considering a global career these capitals provide a roadmap for development and long-term success. Additionally, I believe women – and in particular mothers – have an edge when it comes to developing these capitals. Despite this, we are known for diminishing our strengths in these areas, particularly with regards to psychological and social capital. Regardless, a global mindset is essential for not only those of us currently pursuing or thinking of embarking on global careers but for the next generation of women who will compete in the workforce.

In addition to a global mindset, there are several key traits we should focus on developing and leveraging throughout our careers for long-term success as per research by the Stanford Graduate School of Business[6].

The key success traits for working women they identify include:

  • Women who are aggressive, assertive, and confident but who can turn these traits on and off, depending on the social circumstances, get more promotions than either men or other women
  • For women to be successful they must simultaneously present themselves as self–confident and dominant while tempering these qualities with displays of communal characteristics.
  • A double-edged sword — Women with ultra–feminine traits are still seen as less competent in traditional managerial settings

The research resonated with the class, as many women shared their difficulties in balancing what they felt were expected “masculine” traits with their innate “feminine” traits in the workplace. Finding balance and adapting while navigating a global career is the Holy Grail of success. As women we need to develop additional opportunities like the Hult Pocket MBA to not only candidly discuss how to best develop and leverage these traits but to also share resources and develop a network that supports our continued learning in this space.

  • Key Take-Aways: For generations to come, a global mindset will be an essential trait that we must begin cultivating at an early age to compete and succeed. In addition, women who are best able to adapt to any environment will achieve and succeed long-term.

The Power of Women in Business & The Men Who Get It


We ended the Pocket MBA with a powerful panel on Men Who Contribute to Boosting Women’s Careers or what I like to call The Men Who Get It. Here were three educated, successful men married to equally sharp, successful women. They shared frank views on the balance of power in their relationships and the positive benefits they derived from having a working and succeeding spouse. One shared how he had sacrificed his career for his wife to pursue an expansive global role and the fulfillment he obtained by looking after their children fulltime. Another shared three advantages to having a successful wife:

  • Arithmetic – two working spouses means more resources and a power advantage for the family
  • Strength – both of them working and achieving allows for each to pursue what their passionate about rather than being locked into a career for the sole purpose of financial stability
  • Less Stress — the man is not relied upon as the sole earner which reduces stress

The last panelist, the one who had been married the longest with five children, offered that he and his wife are a team who share in each other’s successes and noted how important it is to celebrate even the smallest success, together. All of the men cautioned those in the audience who weren’t married to “recruit well” and find a partner who supports their career aspirations as much as their own. The panel’s sensitivity to work-life balance and deep appreciation for women’s contribution to and strengths in business was evident and applauded. It is also important to recognize that we were having such a discussion in the UAE, a nation which is leading the region when it comes to women’s rights and the empowerment of women. Women in the UAE and throughout the region are increasingly optimistic about not only advancing their roles in business but succeeding as entrepreneurs as well. The development and progression of women featured prominently in the UAE’s recently celebrations of its 40th anniversary.

“As the UAE marks its 40th anniversary, we all share in the celebration of its enormous achievements, not least of which is its rapid social and economic development. We warmly applaud the fact that women’s contribution towards the country’s development and prosperity are now highly valued and women are regarded as essential to the continuing success and transformation of the UAE.”

— Dr Shaikha Hind Abdulaziz Al Qasimi, Chairperson, Emirates Business Women Council

Can Two Days Really Make a Difference?

I must admit, even I was skeptical that a two-day program – even as packed full of practical take-aways, relevant research, and in-class exercises as our pocket MBA was – would make a difference.  Would there be measureable impact and results?  Indeed, there were.  Dr. Nimon-Peters and her team at Sara Black measured outcomes which revealed the following:

  • The Pocket MBA had a measured direct impact on the self-confidence of the audience, resulting in an average increase in the audience’s ratings of 1) overall self-confidence, 2) confidence in mathematical/numeric ability and 3) confidence in likelihood of achieving career success
  • The results demonstrate the high impact that environmental and contextual factors have on women’s beliefs about their own confidence and abilities. This effect was found despite the fact that the group rated itself as having above average self-confidence at the beginning of the course.

There was nothing pocket-sized about the energy in the room during our Pocket MBA. When women get together like this, transformation occurs. We acknowledged that we spend so much of our lives focused on what we think we’re supposed to do, that we rarely discover what we’re meant to do. Many of the participants in the Pocket MBA shared that this two-day intensive sparked in them the confidence to seek out a new direction, an exploration into finding their true passions and to develop their unique talents and abilities.

Whether they know it or not, women yield a tremendous amount of power and influence in business globally. Much of this power is hidden, underestimated, and undervalued many times by women themselves. It is important to reflect on the impact women have in business and to find a way to capture and hold up stories of relevant female role models, abolish stereotypes, and find new creative ways to support and empower them. Even the smallest of efforts can make an extraordinary impact. I flew a very long way to hopefully inspire and leave an impact on a group of women who are just beginning to realize their own power in the global workforce. What I didn’t anticipate was how much I would learn from them and how I would be the one leaving inspired, optimistic and energized for the future. There are ample opportunities for public diplomacy practitioners both traditional and corporate to engage and partner with women in business and women entrepreneurs. Partnerships with organizations, governments, and corporate entities leading such efforts will bear tremendous fruit in 2012 and beyond.



Cari E. Guittard, MPA serves in an adjunct faculty  capacity for the Hult International Business School and the University of Southern California. Guittard specializes and teaches graduate courses in Corporate Diplomacy, Global Engagement, Negotiation, Managing Geopolitical Risk, & Women’s Leadership. Guittard resides in San Francisco, CA.