Barb Thelen - Alumni Speak

Barbara Thelen

I found that my marketability in international business has been directly affected by my ability to communicate in French, which played a large role in my being hired into the internal audit department at TRW Automotive, an international company.  If I did not speak French I would not have this job.  This company simply does not hire people who speak only one language.

I work for TRW Automotive in the internal audit department since June 2008, and we travel to all the plants throughout the world.  I actually do a lot of travel for my job.  We are gone up to 75% of the time, so life gets pretty busy.  I of course get to go to most of our French audits, which is great.  I have been sent to France to conduct internal audits of different plants in France, each time for a three-week period.  In addition to performing audits, my role in France is also to facilitate communication between my team members and the local staff at our French plants.  The last time I was in France I was amazed at how well I was conducting business in French (even though most people at the plants speak English).  I'm sure I will catch up to that again soon by the time I leave here.  I actually feel very much at home in Europe; it is almost addictive to visit.  I will probably spend two more months this summer in Europe (one in Germany and one in France or Italy).   

It is a shame more Americans do not pick up languages in college.  My colleagues from our Italian offices all know at least 3 languages.  It's amazing.  

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