Santa Clara University


Teambuilding Goes Global

Teambuilding Goes Global

Increasingly in today’s global marketplace, engineers find themselves working to find solutions to challenging problems with teammates situated around the world. “Now, more than ever, it is critical that employees are equipped to face the added challenge of working effectively with colleagues from different cultures in a virtual environment,” said Marian Stetson-Rodriguez, high-tech industry advisor and term faculty member currently teaching ENGR 304, Building Global Teams.

For more than 20 years Stetson-Rodriguez has helped Silicon Valley companies such as Intel, LSI, Cisco, and HP communicate and work together effectively even when they cannot meet face-to-face, and she has had a ringside seat for witnessing best practices in action.

Bringing her expertise to SCU, Stetson-Rodriguez created a class that teaches students how to manage and be effective members of a global team. Her course covers culture-specific information on how trust is built throughout the world. “The most valuable currency a team has is trust,” she said. “The more trust in a team, the more efficient we are. Trust accelerates initiative and decision making, increases morale, and improves productivity.”

Between class meetings, students put their new tools into action, working virtually in teams via e-mail or teleconferences, to produce a 15-minute presentation for a product to introduce in China, India, or Russia. “This is an extremely valuable exercise,” said Stetson-Rodriguez. “As students apply the cultural lessons to strategically design and market their product, they also learn first hand about working as virtual teammates and analyze their team process.”

Stetson-Rodriguez said her course, generally offered in the fall quarter, is a perfect fit for SCU by tying into the University’s goal of educating leaders of conscience, competence, and compassion. “This course provides the global competencies that successful employees can bring to their companies. It addresses the conscience of a socially aware student who is interested in learning how to work successfully with people of different cultures. And it helps build compassion through teaching participants how to deal with differences and team frustrations, stay motivated, and lead and motivate others.”