Alumni / July 28, 2020

Utilizing an Appreciation for Diversity to Lead an International Organization

Each of the seven global mindset competencies is integral to Mark Lenhart’s MBA ’00 work as executive director of study abroad organization CET Academic Programs. As a manager and leader, he finds self-awareness and humility to be a particularly important competency. Lenhart explains, “the leaders I admire most are the ones who approach their world with humility. If you don’t approach a conversation with a certain amount of humility, you manage to create barriers instead of creating learning opportunities.”

Lenhart’s time in the MBA program at Maryland Smith helped him to develop his appreciation for diversity and tolerance of ambiguity. These competencies have been especially useful for teambuilding and innovation at CET. He explains, “the diversity of the student body and the faculty at Smith was a huge asset of the program and a really positive part of my experience.” He values that diversity was present not only in terms of how people identify but also in terms of their industry and professional experiences. The team-based projects of the MBA program were a formative experience for Lenhart. The trials and errors of group work allowed him to graduate with the knowledge of how to create efficient, flexible teams that utilize members’ strengths. In the current COVID-19 environment, tolerance of ambiguity and adaptability are essential skills for CET’s team. While travel and study abroad opportunities are limited, the team has been able to pivot and innovate ways to offer alternative services to students.

Although the diversity present in CET’s international team is one of its biggest strengths, working in a global context comes with its own unique challenges. Managing the communication of an international team across cultures, languages, and time zones can be difficult no matter how advanced technology becomes. Lenhart credits empathy, sensitivity, and an annual in-person, all-staff meeting for helping build organizational bonds across borders. One way CET uses global mindset competencies to impact success is through a host culture roommate program. In this program, American students studying abroad are paired with local roommates in order to enhance cultural understanding. Lenhart explains, “Having a global mindset really helped us develop this program and promote it in a way to our hosting partners that made it successful. We realized we could pitch the roommate program to the host universities in a way that better aligned to their needs.” For example, Lenhart noticed Japanese universities were demonstrating interest in globalizing their campuses. CET framed its local roommate program to Japanese universities as a way to help with globalization, and now one of their host universities includes the roommate program in its admissions catalog as a way to attract Japanese students. Lenhart explains, “We’ve learned how to align what we want with the needs of the host university.”

Lenhart encourages recent graduates and young professionals to consider staying in the same company for more than two or three years. He advises, “every company is so dynamic now and so full of change, staying put gives you lots of advantages. You gain a lot of institutional memory and can affect change better if you are someone who has been there for a while.” For those who have had the privilege of studying abroad, Lenhart emphasizes understanding the impact of study abroad experiences and relating them to global mindset competencies when beginning a career search. Candidates should be able to talk about their study abroad experiences in a way that demonstrates to a potential employer that they have both a changed perspective and problem-solving skills that other candidates may not demonstrate.

Media Contact

Greg Muraski
Media Relations Manager
301-892-0973 Mobile 

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.

Back to Top