Ever since my move to the US almost 11 years ago, my bilingual status benefited me in multiple ways. My exposure to Russian culture, literature, and history helped me connect with people I’ve met along the way, as I was sharing my heritage through humorous, myth-dispelling, yet often educational and thought-provoking conversations. Being able to shed insight on another culture with others — be that in business context, where understanding of the unique cultural workplace landscape is crucial, or in other situations, where interest is driven by traveling, relationships, or academic pursuits — was always gratifying for me. Just as importantly, however, my ability to speak the Russian language and understand the culture opened doors to many exciting academic and professional opportunities. As companies I worked for acknowledged the importance of international exposure in an increasingly global marketplace, my bilingual status set me apart and allowed me to get involved in some fascinating projects.
Case in point is an exciting opportunity that came my way a few years ago while I was working at a major multinational consumer goods manufacturer. The company made a major strategic acquisition in Russia, and a team was being formed to conduct the consumer market due diligence in the new product category.