Information And Multinationalism-Era Skills

In 1982 when Michal Asperger published The Second Wave, I remember being amused at his job description for a group vice president. It was worded as follows:

Wanted: Group Vice President

Responsibilities include coordinating finance, marketing, product line development in several divisions. Must have demonstrated ability to apply sound management control. Report to Exec. VP, multi-line international company. SPANISH TRANSLATION SKILLS REQUIRED.

What is intriguing about this job description is how it emphasizes the crucial importance of Spanish translation as a skill in the multinational world where cross-cultural, multilingual e-mail, and computer conferencing were expected to be commonplace. Previously most managers would had viewed language translation as scut work, but the advent of the electronic and multinational era had already started to caused business leaders to reshuffle their emphases on different kinds of skill acquisition. In some cases it is even causing us to rethink the educational curriculum. If a necessary condition for trade and operations is being able to converse in a particular language, then certainly translating will be an important skill for a manager in the future. And equally important for managers will be the learning of the localization and cultural ways of people in order to negotiate business deals.

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