1969 alumnus, former FDA employee speaks on international business

Avery Blasko, Contributing Writer

Alumnus Evan Siegel ’69, former U.S. Food and Drug Administration employee and founder of Australia’s Ground Zero Pharmaceutical, spoke on Feb. 5 about his experience in international business. Siegel graduated from the University with a physics degree and minors in Russian and mathematics, and then went on to earn three graduate degrees. In his talk, Siegel discussed the myriad of things beyond his major that he learned while studying at the University.

Siegel stressed points that he said were pertinent to traveling and successfully conducting international business. Primarily, he discussed that one must be educated broadly and affirmed his appreciation for the interdisciplinary education he received at the University. He claims this allowed him to go beyond simply “learning” during his time at the University.

“I was educated. I was exposed to lots of history,” Siegal said. He also stressed that an important part of successful international business is understanding the history and customs of the area where one is traveling. While traveling in Australia, he made sure to read local newspapers daily in order to keep up to date with current events. Therefore, he could converse easily with Australians, making him more relatable and approachable.

Siegel also mentioned communication as a crucial component of international business. He said that the people with whom one might interact internationally are typically very well educated, and therefore understand English well. It is important to have good communication skills in order to be taken seriously and properly conduct business.

He concluded the lecture on the importance of accepting and understanding other cultures. Understanding even a small amount of the culture where one is working is essential in not only business, but also in being a respectful guest or host. According to Siegel, this includes educating oneself on the language and customs of the area.

“Even if you only speak 20 words, pronounce them properly. It is very important to make your hosts feel like you really are attempting to achieve some sort of transactional relationship beyond business” Siegal said.

On the content of the talk, event organizer Carole Hardt of the University’s Career Development Center, “If someone is coming to talk about one major, we try to have them talk on other things as well. We’re trying to include the bigger picture, not just focusing on one major or subject.”

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