How to Lead Across Cultures

Peter Golder, the new faculty director of TuckGO, discusses how Tuck’s global, experiential learning courses help create the kind of leaders the world needs.

Marketing professor Peter Golder believes strongly in TuckGO’s ability to transform students.

Recently named the inaugural faculty director of TuckGO, Golder says that by learning about different parts of the world, students stretch their limits and develop cultural intelligence, which is essential to building strong leaders.

Golder knows this well. He’s taken students to China several times as part of the Global Insight Expedition (GIX) course. Reflecting back on these experiences, he describes them as some of the best teaching experiences he’s ever had.

Here in an interview, Golder discusses the future of the TuckGO curriculum, a mandatory requirement that students participate in, involving at least one global immersion course in a country new to them: Global Insight ExpeditionsOnSite Global Consulting, global First-Year Project, or school exchange programs.

As the new faculty director, what are your goals for TuckGO?

Our TuckGO courses are already working well, but the course directors and I are always looking for ways to strengthen them and take them to the next level. Right now, we are exploring opportunities to find and share best practices across all of our global courses. Also, we’re promoting ways for students to have deep conversations back in Hanover about their global experiences—anywhere from the classroom to the dining hall.

Do you foresee any changes in courses?

The environment is changing all the time, so we’re constantly looking at our courses in order to be nimble and responsive to market trends. Courses we offer today may not be as relevant two or more years from now. We continue to expand opportunities on the African continent. After going to South Africa for a number of years, GIX courses have expanded into Morocco and Ghana—two very different and important windows into what’s going on in Africa. We have a rich set of offerings that we continue to expand. Many students take more than one TuckGO course. I believe that doing two makes sense for the majority of students who are here.

How do you see TuckGO fitting into Tuck’s overall mission?

Tuck recognizes TuckGO’s importance in fulfilling the overall mission of the school: to create wise leaders who will better the world of business. We want to equip our students with a vast array of leadership capabilities, such as confident humility, empathy, and judgment. All these qualities come through in our global courses because students see things they have not been exposed to before, interact with a diverse array of people, and navigate new and different business environments.

How do TuckGO courses cultivate leaders who will better the world of business?

TuckGO teaches our students to lead across cultures. This is not just a global imperative. It’s a national imperative. We are moving in the U.S. to a multicultural, diverse workforce. When students go to a country that is new to them—this is a requirement of the program—they stretch themselves by going where they are not comfortable. Tuck is the place for students to take risks and push themselves. Students here have a pretty big safety net. You don’t get too many nicely defined problems in the real world. That’s one of the things TuckGO prepares them for.

Why is it important that TuckGO courses further cultural intelligence?

Managers who score higher on cultural intelligence perform better in the workplace. This makes intuitive sense, but the research supports it. Cultural intelligence is not some buzzword. The research shows if you’re better at it, you will be a better leader and manager. Some of our students are coming here to start or run a business. That’s just one of the reasons we want to push forward with that idea. It ties back to the mission of the school, to cultivate wise leaders who will better the world of business.

How have alumni contributions helped fund some of these courses?

Our funding from very generous alumni allows us to offer incredible learning opportunities for our students. Currently, we offer nearly 500 slots to students through a wide variety of global courses, including social sector courses. Student demand is soaring. We identify interesting clients who might not have the budget to hire a high-priced consultant. Training leaders for success in the nonprofit sector is important to all of us as well. We also get a lot of projects from alumni, which is hugely important. Our alumni are engaged, committed, and they bring interesting and timely problems to us. Their support is very important. Many students say their TuckGO experience is one of the most important educational experiences they’ve had at Tuck.