I lived with different cultures from primary school in Bombay and Aden, to boarding school in Scotland, and then an accounting apprenticeship in England where I qualified with the ICAEW, followed by auditing in London and Paris.

By this time, I had saved enough money to pay for an MBA at INSEAD, a multi-cultural environment where it is impossible to succeed without working in the team set up by the school. Mine had five nationalities.

My career continued in the European HQ of a US company in Paris, then three years in Switzerland as Finance Director in manufacturing. The accounting team here gave me the biggest challenge. They spoke only Swiss and High German and I spoke only English and French. Thereafter I worked in France and Switzerland for 35 years, with companies with headquarters in Italy, Germany, Japan and USA.


During this time, I travelled extensively which was fun. There were different types of travelling. The first was in projects abroad, that included: the audit of a goldmine in Ghana, negotiating distribution agreements in Tokyo or Amsterdam, looking for new offices in Barcelona, a takeover audit in Nice or assessing fraud in Geneva.
The second was meetings – all over the place, from Denver to Amsterdam, Los Angeles to Munich, Milan to Hamburg. And third, later in my career, travel involved managing teams in USA, and Europe.

Change and crisis

Positions, earlier in my career, were related to managing change often in takeovers. Later, I managed companies in financial difficulty as Finance Director. There is never time to waste on the superfluous and always time to look for out of the box solutions.

Stress and toxic managers

Working in corporations is typically stressful: just getting the job done: objectives, deadlines, budgets and presentations. Stress increases in moments of crisis, for instance, during a takeover, when in financial difficulty or in managing rapid change. This stress then increases a hundred fold working with toxic managers. For example, I worked for several bosses who never made decisions. This resulted in my first book after retirement: How to become a no-decision manager which won a silver medal from the Non-Fiction Authors Association in USA. But I worked with other toxic managers: a ‘liar’ boss and a micro-manager boss in financial turmoil.
One of my techniques to release stress has been to use humour. In my 30’s, I wrote articles making fun of management decisions in multinationals. However, to protect my job, I had to write anonymously because the articles were so specific the company could be recognised. One day, my boss showed me an article headquarters had seen in a management magazine. I was the author. I still don’t know if he thought it was I who had written it, but luckily the writer was anonymous.
Later without realising, I moved from writing about these situations, to sharing the fun with my team especially in stressful situations.

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