Alumni / October 27, 2020

Connecting Across Continents and Finding Solutions

Ed Novak divides much of his time between Boston and the Washington, D.C., area, but his professional reach is global.

As managing director and partner at Vistra, an international business services provider, he’s in constant contact with clients and colleagues worldwide.

Because much of his work involves helping growth-oriented clients expand their operations overseas, Novak says his global mindset competencies, relationship-building abilities and cultural curiosity are key skills.

“I really welcome the opportunities and experiences under a global perspective – it's much more exciting. You don't know what's going to happen that day – or it’s harder to predict what's going to happen that day – because of all the dynamics that are happening in a global experience,” he says.

Nurturing business relationships with people around the world, learning about different cultures and helping to solve their business concerns can be “pretty powerful,” he notes. And the challenges and ambiguity of working in a truly global role are what Novak refers to as the “joy of the job.”

“If I have a very unhappy client who has an issue about one or two things going on in Japan, I say, ‘Hey, let's get on the phone with our managing director in Japan.’ Time zones are a little bit different. You're in California; I am on the East Coast; he is in Japan. But, we'll all get on the phone and that person in Japan says, ‘Hey, Ed! How are you doing?’ and we start talking to the client.”

Soon, the conversation is flowing and that issue is on its way to being resolved.

“We can always solve the problem,” he says. “But having that relationship and being able to prove that relationship very quickly and very easily is a great advantage that I often leverage.”

Novak says his global mindset took root during his time at the University of Maryland School of Business. It was there that he had his first meaningful relationships with people from outside of the United States.

“It was a great place for me to start my education – not just for the academics, but for the cultural differences and diversity,” he says.

He advises current students and recent alumni to seek out international business experience early in their careers. The rewards it brings are immeasurable, he says. No matter your field or profession, he says, “you’d be hard-pressed not to become a fuller person because of it.”

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About the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business

The Robert H. Smith School of Business is an internationally recognized leader in management education and research. One of 12 colleges and schools at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Smith School offers undergraduate, full-time and flex MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, business master’s, PhD and executive education programs, as well as outreach services to the corporate community. The school offers its degree, custom and certification programs in learning locations in North America and Asia.

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