Mohammed Hadi, '94
A global career teaches alum the importance of cultural adaptability
January 16, 2012
With a career trajectory that’s taken him from Richmond to New York to Singapore to Hong Kong, Mohammed Hadi, ’94, has learned to adapt to new cultural environments — both personally and professionally.
One of Hadi’s first international interactions was as a student at the University of Richmond. After growing up in Dubai, attending an American school meant more than the typical adjustment to independent life on a college campus.
“I wanted a place that wasn’t right in the middle of a big city where I was going to have to deal with culture shock and the shock of being at an American college," Hadi said. "And Richmond had a really great program for international students. [However,] it does take a certain amount of time before you get to know how people think and what motivates them.”
As a management and political science major, he built on classroom knowledge by becoming a reporter with Dow Jones in New York.
“I learned a lot about the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting,” he said. “We spent a lot of time doing case studies and thinking about why companies do the things that they do. Now I write a lot about what businesses are thinking, and the logic behind the decisions they make. It’s very much like the case studies we did in those classes.”
After New York, Hadi moved back overseas for another position with Dow Jones. Hadi, who originally joined a global company hoping for an opportunity to move out of the U.S., welcomed the change.
“My intention was always to live in as many interesting places as I could,” he said. “I’ll probably end up back in the U.S. one day, but I definitely wanted to go out to see new places. The nice thing about moving to East Asia was that it was all new to me. Singapore, Hong Kong, China and all these places that I’ve been able to visit were completely new experiences and that’s basically what I was after.”
Hadi’s classes on cross-cultural management in the Robins School of Business, combined with his international background, were an asset to him in his new position.
“[In class,] we talked about what it’s like to manage across geographies and manage people from different countries, and that’s my day-to-day now,” he says. “I’m working with reporters all over the world; I’m talking to companies all over the world. We have to approach each company very differently and expect different things from each of them, and a lot of it is cultural. A lot of it actually goes back to that class.”
Now an editor covering mergers and acquisitions and initial public offerings for Bloomberg News in Hong Kong, Hadi found himself readjusting in to a new corporate and regional culture. “It is a risk to move to these places where you don’t know anyone,” he said. “You have to stick it out and know that it’s not going to all fall into place the first month you’re in a new city — it’s going to take six months. Then suddenly you find you’re really enjoying it.”
Hadi’s work is not just concentrated in Asia; it stretches across countries and continents. “I work with a team of reporters across Asia, from Australia all the way to India and in Japan and China,” he said.
While making mistakes in a professional setting may produce a heightened level of anxiety for a new employee, Hadi said sensitivity is the key.
“There’s a lot of trial and error — you learn the hard way,” he said. “You try to be sensitive, and you hope your mistakes aren’t so bad [that] you can’t recover from them.
"The nice thing about working overseas for an American company, or any sort of global company, is that you’re in a room full of people who’ve been there, who’ve done it, who’ve learned the same lessons.”