Scott Sherman, MILR '90
Scott Sherman, MILR '90, is the Vice President of HR for Medtronic Europe, Emerging Markets and Canada. In this role he leads the HR organization in Western, Central and Eastern Europe, India, Latin America and the Middle East, and Canada. There are more than 5,500 employees in more than 80 countries in this increasingly important region for Medtronic, the world's largest medical device company. He accepted this role in August 2005 and now he, his wife Karen and children Robyn (14) and Sam (12), call the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland home. Scott graciously agreed to an interview with International Programs' Robin Remick to share a bit about his international career path for the benefit of students who are considering one.
RR: How did you get on an international career path at Medtronic....did you know it's what you wanted to do, or was it more in response to an emerging need?
SS: I had been interested in an international assignment for quite some time and had conversations about the possibility with our SVP of HR. I thought that the opportunity might present itself in the future, but I did nothing to prepare for it - to a great extent I was lucky. When I reflect on how I could have prepared, I probably would have done an incomplete job. I would have studied languages , read about cultures, or learned about employment laws. I would have missed preparing us for the cultural differences.
RR: How would you recommend current ILR students prepare for working in a global environment (in class, out of class, summer opportunities, etc.)?
SS: Students should consider learning about the differences between cultures (and even trying to experience them - but being a tourist really does not do enough) and laws, as well as exploring their own culture. One of the greatest challenges as an American in an international assignment is understanding how my experiences and biases as an American impact my ability to make relevant decisions and interpretations in another environment.
RR: At Medtronic, how do you evaluate who might be a good fit for an international assignment? Working in London or Sydney is one thing, but how about selecting candidates to work in developing countries?
SS: An international assignment is not for every employee - or every family. The expense and challenges of an international assignment are much greater than of a regular employee, so having clear developmental objectives for the assignment is really essential. At Medtronic we review the purpose of each potential expatriate assignment at the highest levels of the organization. We also review the developmental needs of each candidate and assign sponsors to each. In addition, potential expatriate employees (and their families) should also identify what they want to get out of the assignment. Expat roles have exceptional rewards and real challenges - just make certain to explore both and have a plan.
RR: Best part about it?
SS: Professionally I cannot believe how much I am learning in the role. Personally, while I have much more to learn, I am much more culturally and globally aware - have you ever listened to the news from the perspective of another country's network? And my family is having a great time exploring more of the world!
RR: Challenges to be ready for?
SS: Think of when we graduated - we had to "forget" a fair bit of what we learned in books as we entered the reality of work. It happens all over again - we need to "forget" what we know from home as we enter another cultural reality. Be patient with yourself and others. You may have a hard time not being who you are - just remember that you are part of another culture now.
RR: Intrinsic rewards?
SS: I am really excited that we can to provide this global experience for our kids. I hope they look back and truly appreciate what a gift it is.
- Scott Sherman, MILR '90