Intelligence : /ɪnˈtelɪʤəns/
the ability to learn, understand and think in a logical way about things; the ability to do this well. (Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary)
resources range from declassified publications and reports to basic references, intelligence studies, and world maps. (Central Intelligence Agency)
Intelligence is all around us, whether in the people we come into contact with, and with whom we share information or ideas; the places we look to find answers to questions; the skills we learn and the learning resources and experiences available to us. Everything’s about learning. Everything’s about intelligence.
When I studied for a Master’s Degree, my learning took place inside the classroom and outside, but I’d argue some of the most valuable intelligence I gained was intercultural – from the less-structured interactions. My class consisted of a diversity (and I use the word advisedly) of men and women from backgrounds I’d never encountered before. From Western and Eastern Europe, from Asia, Africa and the Americas. Some became firm friends, from as far apart as Scotland and Mexico, Brazil and the Netherlands. Others I became reacquainted with later in my career. All I learned from.
Since then I continue to learn from my students and colleagues, from Belarus, Belgium, Cape Verde, China, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Romania, Russia, Spain… the list grows and with it my ‘intelligence’. This week I attended a short but really insightful webinar on the Power of International Intelligence in the field of marketing. It encouraged me, as often these events do, to reflect on how my life and work have been influenced and enriched by exposure to the richness of intercultural intelligence. And it’s an example of how so much of what I do depends on constantly looking to expand, and indeed share, my knowledge, skills and intelligence.
I also attended a fascinating presentation by TenTravel DMC on what the Canary Islands have to offer the events industry, and how they can enrich those who take part in meetings, events, incentive travel and conferences on the islands. Having spent time working there, as well as on holiday, I’ve come to appreciate some of the detail the holiday brochures miss out on. This is what genuinely international, intercultural experiences offer, and it’s a key reason I work so hard to encourage and support those who want to study or gain work experience abroad. Living somewhere offers so many deeper insights into the place and the people, and in yourself.
A lot of international learning opportunities have arisen from my connections through international networks such as EN3S in sport, DMCFinder in tourism, EAIE in international education and IATEFL for English teaching, all of whom offer so much more than their acronyms suggest. This week I added ACCA to the list, taking an opportunity to study an accounting module to refresh and expand my business knowledge. Beyond the acronyms I’ve spent the past few weeks meeting an array of established professionals for whom I’ve taken on a coaching role while they study at university, and I’ve emerged richer for the experience. From nurse managers to engineers, management consultants to sport scientists and sports managers, they all help broaden my horizons, as I aim to support them in their growth.