By @SimonCocking

Describe your company:

Professional Passport is a consulting firm located in Portland, Oregon, USA, that specializes in international trouble-shooting and cross-cultural mediation for companies invested in doing business on an international scale. Professional Passport’s proven and trusted professionals help companies develop a global mindset, establish effective international business practices, and work confidently and effectively with colleagues from other countries and cultures. We empower global business executives and employees with superior communication skills and effective behavioral adaptations to better build their international business ventures and prevent the threat of a cross cultural communication breakdown.

Indeed, globalization is pushing companies to increase the speed with which they bring products, services and even ideas to market. Design and engineering processes that once took years now can (and must) be accomplished within months. To compete in this ever-evolving race to market, all employees must communicate effectively with each other from anywhere in the world. And that means more than just speaking the same language. Misunderstandings between cultures can occur among teams of engineers, scientists, manufacturers, project managers, researchers and marketing specialists scattered all over the globe and hinder a company’s international efforts-leading to disastrous results. That’s why it’s imperative to reduce the threat of a cross cultural communication breakdown by providing employees with cultural context and the proper tools to collaborate across cultures.

How are you different?

Our approach to optimizing collaboration across cultures begins with self-knowledge. Through our foundation course, Global Awareness Program (G.A.P.), taught over two days on location in several languages all over the world, we guide class participants to understand how their culture of origin shaped their cultural expectations. We give them the tools to adjust their approach and delivery when interacting with people who do not share the same cultural expectations and values they do. The positive impact this has on their cross cultural relationships builds trust, which is the common denominator in all effective human interactions. Through our second course, Global Leadership Program (G.L.P.), taught over one day, often as a third day of training right after G.A.P. is completed, we teach managers how to decipher their employee’s specific cultural codes. We demonstrate how to rethink their approach when trying to lead, trust, decide, evaluate, assess, disagree, persuade and motivate across cultures. In our third course, Cross-Cultural Creativity and Innovation, we help class attendees gauge their organization’s creativity temperature. We then teach teams composed of multicultural members how to build a culture made of diverse thoughts, creative tensions, creative risks, humility and anti- complacency. By the time our work with the organization is done, their view of their cross cultural counterparts has usually been altered, and collaboration, which was tedious and frustrating in the past, starts to flourish.

Why will the company / product do well?

Our company is doing well because of our approach and the fact that each course we deliver is custom tailored to fit the exact needs of the client. The fact that we focus internally instead of externally makes our method extremely powerful, as none of us have control over others while each of us has full control over our own thoughts and behaviors.

Knowing how to work across cultures is a valuable skill that very few people received through their formal education. Most people in the world join the workforce without having ever had any contact with the concepts we teach in our courses. Our company has grown organically and purely through word of mouth.

Where are you based?

Our headquarters is in Portland, Oregon, in the United States. Our sales desk is in New York City. Our worldwide network of affiliates allows us to deliver our training in every continent.

When was the company launched?

Our company was launched in 2009, but the concept started germinating in the mind of our founder, Vale?rie Berset-Price, fifteen years earlier while she was conducting international business development for companies headquartered in Taiwan, South Africa, Brazil, France and the United States. She learned that the only way to succeed when interacting with people from different cultures is for everyone involved to keep an open mind. When encouraged and nurtured, an open mind will lead to mutual appreciation of and respect for the beliefs, values and ideas of others and result in new ways of thinking, greater acceptance of diversity and unprecedented innovation. Realizing that she had learned this truth the very

hard way, without anyone present to guide her, she decided to create a company that would focus on providing the skills that are vital to global success in the 21st century.

What have been your biggest wins to date?

Our biggest wins can be summarized by the traction our company is gaining. It is not easy to convince multinationals to hire the services of a small firm like ours. Their satisfaction, however, has allowed us to grow organically and to have a foothold all over the world. We can also say that our work contributes to building a better world, one employee at a time. That is why we do what we do.

Tell us about your team?

To be part of our team, one must be multicultural and multilingual and have lived abroad for a minimum of five years. The people we hire come from the business world and have hands-on experience in dealing with the challenges our clients are confronted with when interacting across cultures, under pressure. Our team is also very diverse. Professional Passport is 100% women-owned.

What are you long term plans for your product / company?

Our long term plans are to grow with our clients and to continue to create additional solutions to the new problems a highly interconnected world brings to the table. We created a product that is a sort of lexicon, called Global Communication Tool (GCT), which organizations provide to new hires as part of their on boarding package. Using the GCT, people who are new to the team don’t destroy the trust that has been gained by acting, out of sheer ignorance, in a derogatory or disrespectful way. The tool gives them the basic information needed to positively interact when working across cultures.

What are your favourite tech gadgets?

Many brilliant tech gadgets help our team deliver the work that our clients deserve. Laptops and phones keep our team always organized and connected. Because our team has to be prepared whether we are on the go or in the office, we love the Apple Watch, Dash-i MicroSD Reader, Solar USB Charger, and many others.

What tech gadgets do you wish you could use to help you?

To expand on the Global Communication Tool mentioned before, we would like to have access to a technology that makes the information we create interactive. We are searching for an affordable tool that will allow our clients to share the information we created for them with their teams, that will contain shareable libraries with control over who sees what, and that will allow group collaboration. It would be similar to Google Docs in that multiple people could annotate at the same time, and each party could see what the others are typing. Discussions could be started, experience with the subject discussed could be shared, and everything would be automatically saved. Annotations could be shared and printed. It would work on HTML and file types such as pdf.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Yes, we would like to answer the following question for you:

Have you ever worked with companies headquartered in Ireland?

Yes, we have, but the work we have done was always commissioned by a company headquartered outside Ireland. We know that Ireland has become a hotbed of innovation and that startups abound, but we have never had the opportunity

to share our know-how with any Irish organization, something we would love to remedy. Our company has worked with several startup incubators, including Swissnex Bangalore. Working with Irish entrepreneurs is something that we want to do, and it is high on our priority list.

How do people get in touch with you?

The easiest way to connect with us is via email ([email protected]) or via our website (professional-passport.com); we are also on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Our phone number in the U.S.A. is 1-503-710-1234.


If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking