Intercultural Consultant Helps People Adjust to Life in a New Culture

In today’s globally interdependent economy, executives and employees are working more and more with people from other cultures, and in some cases, must relocate to other countries for their jobs. How hard is it to adjust to a new culture? What is the best way to prepare for it?

If you’re the executives at Verizon or Vodafone, prepping to send sales teams to Japan, Germany, France, and the U.K., you bring in Tom Morgan to give a cross-cultural sensitivity training workshop to your employees.

If you’re Disney studios attempting to understand why your animated film didn’t go over so well in India, you retain Tom to present a primer on the fine points of Indian arts and culture. If you’re the artistic director of Cirque Du Soleil trying to mold a show that audiences in China, Korea and Dubai will love, you sit Tom down in the first row to watch a rehearsal and then use his feedback to adjust the show.

“I help people build intercultural skills,” says Tom, a cross-cultural consultant with 18 years of experience, who holds one-on-one work and group business trainings for several of the largest corporations in the world.

Topics Tom typically covers include the host country’s culture, the adjustment process, dealing with culture shock, and differences in communication styles. He uses the Bennett Scale to diagnose a client’s “stage of cultural sensitivity,” and then customizes his training based on that starting point.

“As they progress,” says Tom, “they experience higher states of awareness of the host culture, ultimately arriving at a stage where they are able to integrate that culture. In effect, they’ve expanded their consciousness to include the other culture.”

Tom relates that view to his experience of Consciousness-Based Education at MUM. “They’re both about developing consciousness,” he says. “Both have helped me to see how unity and diversity can work together.”

Over his 20-year career, Tom has helped his clients and their families relocate to more than 50 countries, working with more than a hundred Fortune 1000 companies and organizations that include Boeing, General Motors, the U.S. Marine Corps, Nestle Purina, and Chevron.

His interest in cultures grew out of his vibrant early family life in Pittsburgh, PA. “One of my uncles studied at Harvard Divinity School and was an expert in Asian religions,” recalls Tom. “I had relatives in the Peace Corps. We were Quakers and our tradition was to have guests over. We’d have Indian gurus, people from Nigeria and Japan, all sorts of interesting people.

“In my twenties I traveled a lot. I spent three years in India, I taught in Nepal, I worked on a peace project in Nicaragua. I was outside the U.S. for six years, which had a huge impact on me. I was fascinated by cultural differences. I knew I wanted to work in the field.”

In 1993 Tom began to read prolifically on the subject. He called authors. He took courses at the Intercultural Communications Institute in Portland, Oregon. He networked.

At a conference in Washington, D.C, he met the executive director of the U.S.-India Business Council. “He told me his staff had never had any intercultural training,” says Tom, who seized on the opportunity. “I made a proposal to him and soon I was in D.C. working with his staff.” From there, Tom founded Tom Morgan Intercultural Associates, picking up new clients and gradually building an impressive client list.

Tom says his education at MUM has helped quite a lot in his work.

“It’s helped in every way,” he says. “The knowledge I gained at MUM is woven into everything I do in this field. Intercultural communication is all about elevating consciousness.”

Toim particularly values the focus on Self he experienced while a student at MUM. “I really liked that I was able, over and over, to connect the details of what I was learning to the study of the Self. That was one of the most important things for me.”

When Tom isn’t working, he can sometimes be spotted in some cozy coffee shop, finger-picking on guitar with his band, Skunk River Medicine Show. Or, when he’s abroad, he takes pleasure in expanding his gustatory consciousness at restaurants that showcase local dishes.

Written by Warren Goldie