For the past 20 years, Irvine, Calif., businesswoman Di Landau has worked on more than 70 consulting and management-education projects in 50 developing and emerging countries, from Mozambique to Mauritius. Yet Landau's newest assignment is perhaps her most significant from a global perspective: a government contract valued at nearly $700,000 that is sending her to Turkey, the strategic crossroads to Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Landau, president of Global Resources Consulting & Training, spoke recently to Smart Answers columnist Karen E. Klein about how her small business landed that government contract, and what she'll be doing with her team in Turkey. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.
Q: Why are you going to Turkey?
A: We received a grant to do a feasibility study on introducing our MBA PowerPak, to employees in Turkey's telecommunications sector. Along with the study, we're going to hold two pilot programs so we can learn what types of changes we need to make in it. We need to better understand the small business needs in Turkey, their working schedules, how much they can afford to pay, what locations we should use, and that kind of thing. Bill Edwards, president of Edwards Global Services of Irvine, is serving as co-manager of the project with me.
Q: Can you explain what the PowerPak is all about?
A: The PowerPak is an educational course, a form of mini-MBA, that we've been offering in the U.S. since 1994 to clients like AT&T (~~), Cisco (~~), and Qualcomm (), and Qualcomm (). We bring focused education primarily to working professionals in the high-tech sector -- people who don't have time to go to school at night or on weekends, or don't have the resources or need to earn a full-blown MBA.
The course is an eight-day program that provides attendees with the skills they need to work with managers on strategy, finance, operations, and global business management. For those in technology, it expands their vocabulary and management skills. This will be the first time we introduce it overseas.
Q: But this won't be your first time working overseas. What kind of experience does Global Resources have internationally?
A: Our consulting division offers niche expertise in project planning, analysis and project management in the telecommunications field.We also specialize in global business education and project planning and management in developing and middle-income countries. Over the years, we've served clients in Africa, Europe, South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and the Middle East.
Q: Why take the PowerPak to Turkey, and why is it so significant to be able to introduce the program there right now?
A: Actually, I got interested in Turkey when I went there on vacation with a girlfriend in 1999. We had no information on the buses or trains, and we didn't know much about the country going in. But it worked out to be one of the best travel experiences of my life, mainly because of the warm, kind, hospitable people we met.
We found out that Turkey has a great transit system, wonderful food, an incredible history and a beautiful landscape. I've been drawn back four or five times since then because of the fascinating market-oriented trading culture and the Turkish people. I feel very comfortable working there and bringing my team there.
What's significant about the country is its geography, because it is located between Europe and Asia. Historically there have been many cultures, both eastern and western, that have come through Turkey, lived there and traded goods. Because of their seaports, the country is cosmopolitan, it looks outside into the world and inside into its own past and culture and the people have tremendous depth in their points of view.
The thing that's happening there now is the economy is opening up more to competition and it's very friendly to small business as it looks to join the European Union. As a NATO member, Turkey's also a strategic asset to the U.S. and a role model for the Middle East, in that it is a successful Islamic democracy. We're very excited and hopeful that we can make a positive difference in this region of the world.
Q: What kind of government contract did you get and how did you get it?
A: I got the contract from the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, which advances economic development and U.S. commercial interests around the world. Our local representative, Christopher Cox of Newport Beach, is chairman of the Homeland Security Committee and he was instrumental in helping us by writing a strong letter of support for our proposal to the USTDA.
Q: How are you preparing for the project?
A: Well, I'm taking private lessons in Turkish, for one thing. What's so wonderful is that I'm getting to use every professional muscle I've ever developed: international project management, cross-cultural expertise, and financial acumen. I feel like I'm playing a harp and I'm going up and down all of the strings, all at the same time!