Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez

Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez addresses university educators at 4th Annual Summit

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Former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez told educators that we must seek out globalization, not Americanization, at WorldStrides’ 4th annual Global Education Summit in Washington, D.C.

The event brings together educators planning short-term, faculty-led global study programs for business and economics students. The group discussed best practices in international travel and shared trends from the business school community.

Gutierrez, a Cuban immigrant who also served as the former CEO of the Kellogg Company, weaved his remarkable life story into compelling remarks about the future of American business. He noted the “regionalization” of economies through trade deals and arrangements like the European Union, and encouraged the audience of business school faculty and administrators to be sure their curriculums and travel programs address this trend. He also told stories from his experiences working in Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and Canada to illustrate the need for cultural sensitivity in business and lamented a lack of curiosity in leaders in many organizations. “I think there is nothing less culturally friendly than displaying a lack of curiosity,” he said. After transferring from Mexico to another role at Kellogg, he said, “No one asked me, ‘How did you do it Mexico?’ Not once.”

He noted the importance of this cultural sensitivity as the world becomes more global. Global, he noted, is not American, and countries expect a degree of personalization in the globalization that has become part of business around the world. Speaking of China, he said, “How much time do we want to spend telling them that they have been wrong for 20,000 years. Or try to adjust!”

Gutierrez said that leaders come in many shapes and sizes, but seem to possess several traits in common: tremendous will, a self-awareness about what they don’t know, and belief in their organization, mission, and team.

Many educators at the Summit are interested in travel programs to Cuba, and Gutierrez addressed this topic, which is close to his heart. He acknowledged what he called the “hard line” feelings of many Cuban American immigrants, and stressed the need to look forward, not back. “Cuba is changing, and we are not changing. And it’s been 57 years since we’ve been at this with the Cubans,” he said. “After 57 years, I think we can say, you know what, I think their revolution won. And I say that—it’s not an easy thing to say—but it’s hard not to recognize it after that amount of time.”

His comments kicked off an event that included panel discussions on emerging destinations for travel, preparedness in an era of increasing terrorism, the latest information on the Zika virus, and roundtable discussions on millennials, overcoming bias, preparing students for travel, and innovative travel itineraries.

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