November 2013
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Kristin Ekkens, C3 Consulting LLC,Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

I’m finding that opportunities come when you least expect them. About a year ago, I started a workplace language and culture consulting business. During that time, I have worked on some great speaking, training, and consulting projects. In the interest of “electronic networking,” I’d love to share a few highlights with you. (It takes two or more to network, so I look forward to your comments and hearing from you via our Discussion E-List!)

Highlight #1: Speaking to 500 incoming resident assistants and intercultural aides

In August, I had the distinct pleasure of giving a keynote session and follow-up training sessions to 500 incoming resident assistants (RAs) and intercultural aides at Michigan State University. I presented on the subject of discovering global potential on behalf of the Cultural Intelligence Center. For me, one of the highlights of the day was when an American RA said, “I understand my cultural values and what shapes my perspective of people who are different from me, but how do the international students perceive me when they first come to the United States?”

When I asked the group, composed of both international and domestic students, multiple hands immediately went up. A student from China spoke to the challenge of breaking through stereotypes on campus. A student from Ghana mentioned how the sense of community felt so different here in the United States—focused on individual achievement rather than achievement as a collective group. What ensued was an engaging and powerful discussion: learning that can only happen through those open and honest moments.

Highlight #2: Discovering an essential skills framework

Perhaps you have already made this discovery: If you live in Australia, you most likely are very much “in the know.” In August and September of 2013, the Australian government published a revised essential skills framework, “Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework,” and other helpful guides.

Timing could not have been more perfect! One project I just completed is helping a large (20,000 employees) healthcare organization develop a course map or a framework for developing essential skills (including language, culture, and workplace skills) for their employees. After researching and exploring various frameworks from across the globe, I decided on using the “Core Skills for Work Developmental Framework.” My goal and objective in working with companies as a consultant is to enhance performance by improving skills necessary for the job. This framework was a perfect fit! The Canadian Government has also published some incredible resources including: “Taking Action: A Guide.”

Highlight #3: Becoming an insider or remaining a vendor?

For the 12 years that I’ve been doing workplace language, literacy, and culture training, I’ve been a service provider. I take pride in providing quality services to my clients even when it means working well into the night/early morning to deliver the best product possible under tight deadlines (the life of the consultant, right?!). Well, this past month I’ve been approached by three organizations with job opportunities as an internal consultant. So here’s my question for those of you who have done both: which is better—internal or external consultant?

To be continued...

Kristin Ekkens is founder and CEO of C3 Consulting LLC. She provides learning solutions that help multinational companies achieve their goals by developing a culturally competent workforce. Kristin’s areas of expertise include cross-cultural competence, workplace communication skills, workplace/business English, cultural diversity, and global talent management. Kristin is a speaker, trainer, consultant, and coach. To find out more, visit her website,

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