World View: Focus on Panama

Panama wants to increase its higher-skilled jobs, allowing its population to produce finished products for export. This upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Developement” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Location, location, location! Panama has been blessed with a perfect location to conduct commercial shipping. A ship can cross from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean and vice versa by using the 50-mile waterway known as the Panama Canal. The revenues generated from the canal are critical to the country’s financial success. Panama intends to greatly increase the canal’s capacity by 2014. This unique waterway will have a major impact on the country’s development.

The population of Panama is more than 3.5 million, and it is culturally diverse. It has a very literate population. Spanish is the language of the majority, although some speak English. Banking, farming, and shipping through the canal are its major sources of income.

Where does training fit in? Panama wants to increase its higher-skilled jobs, allowing its population to produce finished products for export. This upgrading of skills requires specialized education and training.

Panama is only a few hours from several major cities in the U.S. It fast is becoming a banking center, as well as a world trade center. Its population is eager to learn. Although there have been anti-American feelings based on past American foreign policy, the opportunity to work for an American firm is greatly valued.

Customer service and management training programs are needed. As finished products are produced in Panama, quality training will be key, as well. Since many employees do not speak English, training in English as a foreign language (EFL) will be needed.

When conducting global training, it is crucial to always be aware of several factors that are present in all cultures. These include:

  • The formality of the culture
  • Language usage
  • The importance of the group
  • How time is treated

Formality: Panama is a country where formality is expected. Trainers are expected to wear a business suit; they do not elicit confidence by dressing down. You should address participants by their last names unless asked to do differently. You will be expected to lecture extensively. The thought is that you are the expert, and your ideas should be heard. Ice-breakers and training games are not viewed positively.

Vocabulary: Check to see if your English is being understood. Although many of your participants will speak English, you may need to adjust your vocabulary. Using computer-generated slides and providing participants with handouts can provide them a better opportunity to learn and retain the course content.

Group Dynamics: The group is important. Participants should not be singled out. Be sure to praise the class as a group.

Timing Is Everything: In terms of time, punctuality is valued in business settings. You are expected to start your training programs on time. Participants will return from class breaks and lunch as asked.

Panama is already a world trade center and quickly becoming an international banking center. With its convenient location, having your organization develop a trained workforce there makes a lot of sense. Its location allows you to provide goods and services worldwide. Latin America is a rapidly growing market. Having a presence there can allow your organization to grow. In short, you can’t afford to overlook the dynamic country of Panama.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Boliva


Training is in its infancy in Bolivia. Most training conducted is technical in nature, but there is a need for supervisory and leadership programs.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Located in South America, Bolivia is famous for its beautiful topography. The country has both rainforests and one of the largest lakes in the world, Lake Titicaca. Mount Illampu, located on the outskirts of capital La Paz, has an elevation of more than 20,000 feet. Depending on where in the country you are training, be prepared for the high altitude and the need to acclimate yourself to the “thin air.”

The population of Bolivia is approximately 11 million, and it has two capitals. Its administrative capital is La Paz, while Sucre is the constitutional capital. It is bordered by five countries: Peru, Chile, Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil. It is considered to be located in the middle of South America. Bolivia is culturally diverse, with more than 30 languages spoken in the country. Spanish is the language of business.

Bolivia exports mainly oil, natural gas, some textiles, tobacco, agricultural products such as soybeans, minerals such as zinc, and tin.

The global downturn of the last few years has negatively affected Bolivia as it has not been able to maintain and grow its economy. But the Bolivian government has not yet enacted market-oriented reforms. Most developing countries seek to convert their raw materials into finished products, but the Bolivian workforce currently does not have the skills to produce finished higher-level products (computers, electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc.).


Bolivia offers many challenges to organizations interested in doing business there. Half of the population lives below the poverty line. Many of these citizens have not received the education needed to compete on a global basis. The middle class is small in Bolivia. The domestic market is limited in purchasing goods and services. Without a well-trained workforce, companies are not able to produce and export the finished goods necessary to grow the economy.

Training is in its infancy in Bolivia, and many Bolivian companies do not offer training to their employees. There is no organizational culture for training. The training that does take place typically is held at the worksite. These companies usually are located in the La Paz, Santa Clara, and Cochabamba areas.

Most training conducted is technical in nature. Classes involving Western management practices, including supervisory and leadership programs, are needed. Computer training also could meet a definite need. Programs in English as a foreign language (EFL) could help globalize Bolivian organizations, as the majority of the workforce does not speak English. Because training resources are not widely available, the cost of training programs is higher than in the U.S. as resources need to be obtained and shipped to Bolivia.


  • Bolivia is a formal country in terms of dress and how participants need to be addressed. Trainers should wear appropriate business attire, and call participants by their family name unless asked to be less formal.
  • Because English is not widely spoken,all materials need to be translated into Spanish, and trainers need to be fluent in Spanish. If the organization asks you to teach the class in English, you will need to speak a bit slower and include visuals. Also, be sure to gauge if the vocabulary you use is understood by all.
  • Bolivians like training to be action oriented, with most activities involving skills practice in groups. The trainer is not expected to stand in the front and lecture to the class.
  • Singling out individuals is not expected or encouraged. When debriefing activities, you will need to speak about the class as a whole group. Trainers are respected, and a certain distance is expected when feedback is given.

While the lack of a trained workforce and the low standard of living in this country are not easily overcome, change can happen quickly. Currently, neighboring Brazil has a growing middle class and a trained workforce that produces goods and services for some of the largest multinational organizations in the world. This could be Bolivia someday.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on New Zealand


Training programs that currently are in demand address management development topics, sales, customer service, and communication and presentation skills.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

New Zealand depends on its export prowess to help keep its economy healthy. The challenge is that its products are mainly agricultural. The New Zealand government wants to change this model to one where its citizens are able to produce and export finished products, which requires a higher skill set.

Watersports, hiking, skiing. For those who love the outdoors and nature, New Zealand is the place to be. New Zealand has a population of 4.5 million. Its citizens boast a high standard of living, and a 99-plus percent literacy rate. English is the main language.

New Zealand depends on its export prowess to help keep its economy healthy. The challenge is that its products are mainly agricultural. Tourism is also a major source of income for this country. The New Zealand government wants to change this model to one where its citizens are able to produce and export finished products, which requires a higher skill set. Producing these finished goods also would allow a much higher revenue stream. Making this transition to a more developed economy is of keen interest to policymakers in this country.

The government is moving toward developing a higher-skilled workforce. Worker training plays a key role in these plans. Companies that invest in training these highly literate employees can experience great business success. In these times of oversaturated home markets and organizational pressures to grow markets, many companies use New Zealand as a base of operations to sell their products and services in Australia, the Far East, and the Pacific Rim.

That said, the costs of training can be higher because of New Zealand’s far-off location, and the transportation costs involved in getting materials there. Training programs usually run two days and are conducted off site at hotels or university learning centers in one of the three largest cities in the country: Wellington, the capital of New Zealand; Auckland; or Christchurch. Training programs that currently are in demand address management development topics, sales, customer service, and communication and presentation skills.


  • New Zealanders enjoy fast-paced practical Programs. The more “hands on” the better. keep adult learning principles and practices in mind when doing course development. Your participants will respect your expertise, but won’t expect you to conduct a traditional program, with the trainer providing the class with expertise through lecture.
  • Small group activities are welcome and expected But be mindful that participants don’t want to singled out in class keep the group front and center.
  • In One sense New Zealanders are informal but many have a reserved nature. They want to get to know you, but it could take a little while before they start to ask questions. Be patient and flexible.

New Zealand is a beautiful country with a highly literate population that respects and values training. Your organization can build an effective training operation in this country quickly.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Ireland

The Irish government champions and supports training for its citizens.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Ireland is known for its beautiful scenery. Its coast has been featured in countless movies and books.

In recent years, companies have done business here for many reasons. The Irish are hard-working people and very literate (99 percent literacy rate). Ireland’s main language is English—and it is valued in both its spoken and written form. Ireland has had its share of famous authors, including James Joyce and playwright Samuel Beckett. This serves as a major benefit for North American trainers, who do not need to translate their training content, and can maintain their typical language and speed of delivery.

In addition, Ireland is a member of the European Union. This opens up many business opportunities in Europe with minimal “red tape” for organizations operating here. North American organizations that do business here are well positioned for future growth. For many years, Ireland had the fastest-growing economy in Europe. It experienced a downturn more recently, but business is slowly improving, and the future is bright. Ireland’s highly educated population is skilled in manufacturing higher-order products, including telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Ireland’s population is slightly less than five million. Because of its relatively small population, Ireland needs to export products to truly grow its economy. There is an awareness that workers require a higher skill set to compete in the global economy. Irish companies can earn far higher profits selling finished goods as opposed to commodities. Training is needed to allow this change to occur. Businesses will benefit from manufacturing products, and exporting them worldwide. Irish companies have strong reputations and are highly regarded for high-tech products.

The Irish government is willing to invest in the country’s business future and attract new global organizations by providing them with a favorable tax situation. It also champions and supports training for its citizens. Training is needed in topics such as customer service, quality, and leadership.

The main locations for training are the capital, Dublin, and the cities of Cork and Belfast. Training programs often are held in hotels or onsite at the company itself.

Training in Ireland is similar to training in North America. Trainers should portray themselves as peers to participants. They should position training as a way for adult participants to build knowledge together with the trainer in a collaborative fashion.

Irish participants do not want to be lectured to. Trainers can and should introduce small group work. The Irish are an outgoing people and will want to participate in training programs. Let participants realize they should not be afraid to speak out and voice their opinions. They should be told that there are no bad questions. This will give them permission to be themselves.

This is an informal culture. Participants will be fine being on a first-name basis with trainers. Although individualism is highly valued, be careful with overt praise. “Showing off” is not appreciated. Trainers should observe and monitor reactions and adjust their feedback style accordingly.

It’s also important to have clear ground rules for the format and schedule of the training. Participants value the structure and organization trainers provide them.

For global organizations looking for growth opportunities, having a presence in Ireland can help them build a strong presence in Europe and beyond.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

World View: Focus on Peru


Most training programs run one to two days and are conducted in major cities, especially Lima.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” by Dr. Neil Orkin

Peru is a country with tremendous natural resources, especially metals such as gold and copper. It is a land famous for the advances of the Incas, who had one of the most sophisticated cultures the world has known. With a population of 29 million and a location next to one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, Brazil, Peru is a land global organizations need to watch.

Education is valued here. The Peruvian government understands that having a better-educated workforce will enable its citizens to do higher-level work and develop finished products for export. There is a shortage of engineers and scientists in Peru, which has hampered the development of its economy. Peru has experienced a large trade imbalance for many years. This is the result of exporting agricultural products and minerals, and importing finished goods. The Peruvian government believes that opening up the country to global trade (Peru has signed several trade agreements with other countries) and upgrading the education of its people can help turn things around.

Poverty is an issue for many of its citizens. Basic living conditions such as having clean water and adequate waste disposal are often not available.

Because the middle class is small and growing slowly, companies face several challenges here, including:

  1. The population does not have the disposable income to purchase many goods and services.
  2. The majority of the workforce does not have the skill set to manufacture finished goods for export.

The State of Training

The training industry in Peru is not as developed as in other countries. Most of the training is conducted in major cities, especially Lima. One- to two-day programs are popular. Comprehensive needs assessments should give your organization a clear understanding of what should be offered. Often, giving your workforce a through grounding in problem-solving, quality, and oral and written communication can make a difference. Don’t assume your Peruvian workforce is familiar with topics that are well known in your regular training. Although many of the “elite” in this country have studied abroad, expect the majority of your trainees to not speak English. You will need to watch your vocabulary and your rate of speed when presenting information. Using slides and visuals can greatly increase comprehension and
retention of your material.

Cross-Cultural Business Tips

Time: Although you will be expected to be on time to meetings, functions, etc., expect your Peruvian workforce to be late often.

Formality: This is a formal culture. Trainers are respected and are expected to lead the class. Minimize group work and use family names when addressing participants.

Group: This is a group-oriented culture, so you should not single out individuals.

Decision-Making: Trainers are expected to make all classroom-related decisions.

Costs: Keep in mind that the costs for a training program in Peru typically will be higher than usual. Most training materials need to be brought in.

Training in Peru can be challenging, but over time, as the country builds its economy, your organization will be well situated for global success.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success. Global Training Sytems in partnership with Badiyan Inc. has developed a global e-learning performance management program to take global business understanding to the next level.

Focus on Iceland


Reading is a national pastime in Iceland—in fact, there are more bookstores in Iceland per capita than any country on Earth.

Reprinted from “Training: The Source for Professional Development” July/August 2016 p. 15 — Article Author: By Dr. Neil Orkin, President, Global Training Systems

Iceland is in the North Atlantic, a threehour flight by plane to Western Europe. It has a population of approximately 330,000, which is tiny by any measure. To put things in perspective, New York City has a population of more than 8.4 million. The capital of Iceland is Reykjavik, which has a population of approximately 120,000.

In the past, Iceland’s main product was its fishing industry. Most recently, the Icelandic government has been an advocate for the development and exportation of finished products such as those in financial services, pharmaceuticals, and software design and development. This change in product mix necessitated a highly trained workforce. Training has been a beneficiary of this new mindset. Currently, the majority of Icelanders work in the service industry.

Training programs usually are conducted in hotels or onsite at the company. Most training tends to be held in the bigger cities, Reykjavik in particular. Icelandic firms fully believe in on-the-job training. Even so, the most popular training programs are those on management, leadership, and quality (Six Sigma).

Trainees most likely will speak English, along with their native language of Icelandic and at least one other language. Icelanders are informal. Expect to address students by their first names. The trainer serves as the facilitator; you will not be expected to lecture. Small group work is valued. Icelanders like to be presented with content, given the opportunity to practice in small groups, and then allowed to debrief the activity as a class. Individualism is prized. Iceland is a highly technical culture. Students will feel comfortable with any technology you present them with. As a result of these factors, you will be able to present your training programs with minimal modifications.


Education Encouragement: Icelanders do not pay for education at any level. Iceland has one of the highest literacy rates in the world—99 percent. Reading is a national pastime; in fact, there are more bookstores in Iceland per capita than any country on Earth.

Being Green: Iceland uses hydrothermal and geothermal resources for energy. This has freed the country from being completely dependent on energy imports. It is also a clean, non-polluting energy source.

Opportunities for Women: Iceland supports and advocates for women’s rights. Women are represented at all levels in both the public and private sectors. Iceland has had a female head of state. Maternity and paternity leaves are fully funded and used by the workforce.

Free Health Care: Icelanders are some of the longest-living people on the planet. They are able to utilize medical services free of financial concerns.

Language Power: Icelanders are encouraged to be bilingual at a minimum. Global professionals need to know languages and cultures to be truly effective in global business.

No Military: While this is not possible in many parts of the world, Iceland is aided by its isolation. Not having a standing military allows it to utilize these funds in other ways to benefit its citizens.

Connection to Nature: Icelanders enjoy spending time in nature (i.e., lakes, mountains, forests, etc.), which centers them for their workday stresses.

Flat Tax: International studies have recognized Iceland as having one of the most egalitarian cultures in the world. Corporate taxes are reasonable, as well.

Sense of Community: Icelanders believe they can access the support of family and friends during life’s challenges.

Is it any wonder Iceland was named the world’s third happiest country, according to the World Happiness Report Update 2016? There are lessons to be learned there.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Focus on Norway


Popular training programs in Norway include Six Sigma, customer service, presentation skills, communication skills, and leadership.

Reprinted from “Training: The source for Professional Development” Article Author: Dr. Neil Orkin

A country famous for its islands, forests, and fjords, Norway never ceases to amaze the world, especially during the Winter Olympics. Her graceful athletes usually win countless gold medals based on their great skill and connection to the land. This country has a population of approximately 5 million and is blessed with natural resources. Your organization will benefit greatly by doing business in this Scandinavian paradise. Building your training capacity here can benefit your company in myriad ways.

Norway is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. It is known for having a 100 percent literacy rate, a corruption-free political and business environment, and one of the highest per capita income levels in the world. The United Nations Human Development Index ranks Norway as No. 1 in the world for its standard of living. Norwegians receive free health and education benefits, as well as robust pensions. It is an egalitarian society with a large middle class. Norway is famous for the fairness and opportunities it provides all its citizens. The current prime minister is a female, and women are well represented throughout society.

Unemployment in Norway is less than 3 percent, and the country has benefited from huge oil and gas reserves. Norway has a defined savings plan for its citizens known as the Government Petroleum fund. The largest producer of aluminum in Western Europe, Norway maintains a global trade surplus. Its telecommunications network is one of the most modern in the world, and more than 80 percent of its citizens speak English.

Norway’s location provides access to many markets throughout Europe, including Russia. Although many of the area countries have experienced economic challenges, the timing is perfect to enter these markets prior to the expected area business growth.

Popular training programs in Norway include Six Sigma, customer service, presentation skills, communication skills, and leadership. Norwegians feel comfortable with their approach to business but are always interested in how successful North American companies operate and train their leaders. Your training costs for all programs will be 15 to 20 percent more than in the United States, but your return on investment will be well worth the effort.


  • Most, if not all, of your participants will speak English, but avoid idioms and keep your language as clear and straightforward as possible as participants may not be entirely familiar with your vocabulary and delivery. Use slides and handouts containing the content you’ll deliver to help reinforce your message.
  • During your program, trainer-directed communication is expected as participants want to learn from the trainer.
  • Norwegians tend to be reserved and strive to avoid confrontation. If a trainee is being quiet, be careful not to push him or her to participate.
  • During your program, be careful not to focus on a particular participant for praise. This could make the participant and group uncomfortable. If positive recognition is deserved, praise the specific group, not the individual.
  • Norwegians are comfortable working in groups. They also like to be treated as individuals, so the proper balance between these two approaches can be key to the success of your program.
  • Norwegians are often private, so “ice-breakers” and questioning participants about their personal life and families is not welcomed.

Dr. Neil Orkin is president of Global Training Systems. His organization prepares corporate professionals for global business success.

Successful Repatriate Training

The retention of corporate professionals after a global assignment is key to the future success of your global organization. How can you minimize the challenges that your repatriate employees face after returning from an overseas assignment? How can the knowledge they have learned abroad be transferred and shared? These five steps can help.

1. Dealing with Reverse Culture Shock. Until fairly recently, the idea of offering training to professionals who were coming home was considered odd. Repatriates were often thrown back into their jobs with no discussion of their international assignments. Research has shown that a home culture can seem strange after having spent a period of time negotiating a new culture. Providing repatriates with an outlet to discuss their feelings can be crucial to successful repatriation.

2. Transferring knowledge. Sound repatriate training should include time for the repatriate to discuss how to transfer the knowledge he or she has learned. This may best be done on an informal, just-in-time basis during a special project, or during meetings with the boss, or during special meetings of their team.

3. Mentoring expatriates. The repatriate can serve a key role in helping the organization develop a global workforce by serving as a mentor to expatriates going to the same country or part of the world. The information exchange between the repatriate and expatriate can help ensure a positive experience for the expatriate by alerting him or her to the challenges faced when working abroad.

4. Conducting repatriate forums. Organizing a group of repatriates who can share their knowledge of international business during regularly scheduled presentations gives a clear signal to all employees that global experience is valued. In addition, the networking between repatriates can help your organization build a more satisfied global workforce.

The strain and uncertainty of the overseas assignment can be reduced when the expatriate knows what career opportunities are available upon return. This knowledge also can create a much smoother transition once the employee returns home.

To remain competitive globally, organizations need to make it clear to all employees that global experiences are encouraged. One way to do that is through an organizational design that promotes international assignments. Another way is to provide repatriate training programs.

Too often, repatriate professionals leave their organizations because they feel that their knowledge is undervalued. These five steps can help prevent this from occurring.

Neil S. Orkin is a principal with Global Training Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource development located in Hillsborough, New Jersey. Successful Repatriate Training, Neil S. Orkin, Performance in Practice, Reprinted with the permission of the American Society for Training and Development, Alexandria, Virginia.

Six Steps to Successful Global Succession Planning

global succession planningA hot topic in human resources development circles has been global succession planning. How can companies best meet their human resources development needs abroad and track the global skills of their people? How can a global professional be kept connected to the home office and satisfied with their job and organization? Here are six steps to help you with this important challenge.

1) Database Management Systems – Organizations need systems that note the international work experience and foreign language skills of employees. Training professionals need to be able to make ad hoc queries on a computer to get employee profile information. Windows based programs exist that can make the job of finding the appropriate professional much easier.

2) Selection – Interview candidates to verify their interest in a foreign assignment. The professional may not feel that the assignment is a good fit for his or her current professional and personal situation. It is far better to have this information before the employee is chosen than to risk a failed assignment which can be extremely costly for both the individual and the organization.

3) Mentoring Programs – Providing the global professional with a mentor is critical to the success of the assignment. The mentor, ideally someone at a higher level in the organization who has completed a successful international assignment, can inform the professional on how to navigate his or her assignment and also let the professional know what is happening back at the home office.

4) Keeping in Touch – By installing a computer or fax machine in an expatriate’s home, he or she can receive daily messages from the home office. This helps keep him or her informed and feeling part of the team. Some firms have created special newsletters for expatriates to help them stay current with organization news and information. Certainly, regularly scheduled trips back to the home office so the employee can be briefed on important company news and meet with his or her mentor is key.

5) Repatriation – The organization needs to sit down with repatriates and help them map out a personal action plan noting the challenges they feel they may face. Another challenge is deciding how the knowledge and information that repatriates have gained can best be shared with home-office professionals.

6) Retention – It is not uncommon for repatriates to leave the organization after an overseas assignment. Losing a key global professional can be very costly. Having a clear career path for repatriates is critical, as is allowing them to serve as mentors and providing a forum for them to share the knowledge they have gained with future expatriates.

Following these six steps will allow your organization to become more global and enable you to develop and retain a team of global professionals.

Neil S. Orkin is a principal with Global Training Systems, a global management consulting firm specializing in human resource development located in Hillsborough, New Jersey.

Speaking to Global Audiences

As speaking professionals we recognize how important it is to understand our audience and to customize our message to the groups we are speaking to. When presenting abroad or here in the United States, it is key that we have an awareness of the non-native speaker of English and prepare our speeches accordingly. Here are a few simple steps we can take to maximize the impact our presentations have with global audiences.

Intercultural Communication Issues

TIME ISSUES: It is not unusual for speakers to want to include a lot of information in their speeches. This can be very problematic when speaking globally. Listening to a speech in a second language can be very tiring, so the shorter and more direct your presentation is the better. When conducting seminars allow plenty of time for covering each section of your program and for questions. Give participants time to “recharge” with adequate breaks.

VISUALS: The use of visuals is always important. Remember to include pictures and diagrams to help you present your message. These diagrams can help your audience follow your talk particularly if the visuals are clear and not too cluttered.

LANGUAGE: Try not to use jokes because humor can be very place specific and may not travel well. The same goes for idioms and slang. It may be useful for you to tape yourself before giving your presentation to “weed out” your use of idioms and slang. This language can be very confusing to your global audience. Americans tend to drop word endings particularly final consonants, which can make what you are saying difficult for your audience to follow. Another common problem when speaking to global audiences is speaking too quickly. We really need to remember to slow our rate of speech down.

OBSERVE YOUR AUDIENCE: It is key to observe your audience when giving your presentation. Don’t be impatient, and be willing to adjust your delivery based on audience reaction. Your audience will appreciate the effort you took to customize your keynote presentation.

By following these four simple steps you will notice that your audiences have more energy and will be understanding your message much better. This will definitely be worth the changes made.

Reprinted from Liberty Bell Newsletter. A Publication of the Liberty Bell Speakers Association, a Chapter of the National Speakers Association.