Leadership Without Borders – Why International Experiences Can Make Us Better Leaders

Why Going Abroad Will Increase Your Chances of Success    

Someone once said: “travel is the only thing that you buy that makes you richer”. This unknown author couldn’t be more accurate in describing the value of travelling. With the world converging and becoming increasingly global, the demand for cultural sensitivity in the market place is now a “must have”. Opportunities to travel and take on international work or study experiences are more important than ever and represent a valuable asset when shaping leadership skills. You can also see how ePOS systems can streamline your business.

Leaders are going Global

Market Inspector has asked some of the most successful leaders, entrepreneurs, managers and young talents around the globe about their opinions of the benefits of having international experiences to become better professionals.


Despite their different occupations, they all have one thing in common: they are not afraid to get out of their comfort zone and they have their international experiences to thank for whom they have become today.


International experiences don’t only add lines to the pages of your passport, but many lessons come along with each stamp of your passport. Experiencing something new in an unknown environment allows us to learn a variety of things that don’t only make a difference in our personal lives but also in our professional development.


International experiences help us mold our skills and advance our critical thinking, tolerance and rapid reasoning – all of which are absolutely vital traits to lead and inspire any team. The way we cope with challenges and unexpected situations abroad will play a role in our management and leadership style. The world is the best business school you can get.


So, get inspired, pack your bags, and start your journey now!

    Veronique Rapetti      

“In France, we all know the proverb attributed to Montaigne: “Les voyages forment la jeunesse”, which would translate in English as “travel educates the young”. Over the years, the value of any new experience abroad on the personal development of the traveller has been well proven and documented. Nowadays, with the advent of cheap flights, anyone can decide to travel at short notice and anywhere. The barriers to travel have been reduced dramatically and if your wish to discover new cultures is strong, then nothing can or should stop you.

It is not always easy leaving the comfort of your own home and settling in a new town, joining a new company and meeting new people. Stepping outside your world, going away to explore, by yourself, new horizons is an incredible learning experience and leadership eye opener. You can gain practical new insights into human interactions, become a more open minded individual, understand other people’s perspective and develop useful interpersonal skills, such as empathy, communication, listening, trust and resilience.


If you have an understanding of different cultures, different points of view, as a leader you will be able to create work environments where people can act authentically, feel trusted and valued. In my opinion, great leadership is about being able to embrace, engage and connect with the people around you, no matter whom they are and where they come from. To succeed in your quest for acquiring great leadership skills, start now, throw yourself into the deep-end, and take on several international work experiences. As we say in England: “travel broadens the mind”. Happy travelling!”

Véronique has lived in the UK since 1994 and speaks fluent Italian and French. She holds a European Masters in Law & Economics from Oxford University and a French Master’s (DEA) in Institutional Economics (with honours) from Aix-En-provence University. In 2011, she was nominated for the Most Influential French Londoner Awards.

          Rafael dos Santos      

“Travel the world is the dream of many but not everyone packs a bag and decides to leave everything behind to do so. I have done my own way. I did during a few years and after visiting 42 countries I came to the conclusion that travelling the world doesn’t broad only your personal life but your career and your management style too.


If we talk about leaders and their world experience, I believe those who have visited places, eaten different food and been in world heritage sites will be able to empathize more with their team members. Being a leader is no longer being able ‘to tell people what to do’, it’s about understanding the strengths and qualities of team members and getting them to use these skills at their best. Many times culture influence people’s skills and also being culturally aware creates a connection between you and your work colleague.


You understand why Indians eat with their hands, why the Chinese hold your business cards with both hands first time they meet you or the fact that the French always write your surname in capital letters. Because you have been there, you don’t criticise, you understand their way of doing things and you are able to compromise when it comes to group tasks. The more you travel, the more understand why and this leads to an acceptance of how people and their culture are. Leaders should use this knowledge to their advantage and promote integration within the team”.

Rafael dos Santos is a multi-award winning Brazilian entrepreneur that has lived in London for 15 years. He is a speaker, author and founder of mi-Hub, UK’s first coworking space to help migrant entrepreneurs improve their lives by becoming successful entrepreneurs.

          Andre Bettencourt (1)      

“Working as a marketing director of a 4×4 adventure magazine for 20 years, travelling around the world was part of my working routine, as we organised 4×4 driving expeditions for our readers. Considering the kind of adventure, most took place in less developed countries, where a good dose of improvising and adaptation was fundamental. This kind of adventure travelling is in fact a continuous learning process: it is going out of your daily routine and learning new skills and having to adapt to new situations, improvising when things go wrong, and to rely on your own strengths and capabilities. If there’s one thing I think everyone will take away from travel it’s to be a more patient and tolerant person. After travelling so much, you become a master in problem solving, an important skill that the working world values a lot”.

André Bettencourt is Portuguese and works in Lisbon. He has lived in The Netherlands, speaks five languages, has travelled to about 60 countries and has a vast portfolio in Management and Marketing.

        Felipe Morales      

“In AIESEC, we believe that becoming a world citizen is an essential part of developing leadership for today’s world. By enabling international volunteer and internship opportunities, we provide youth with the chance of becoming better leaders and professionals.


Thanks to AIESEC, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a team of 9 young professionals, from nine different nationalities, in London. Coming from Colombia, this experience has been challenging but also extremely rewarding. At the beginning, it was complicated to understand why my Chinese colleagues wanted a more detailed plan than the ones I was used to or adapting to the British business culture but after a year, I have no doubt of the value of this experience. Because of this and other international experiences I’ve had, I think that having international experience is essential to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes, and this new perspective will make you think differently and constantly push you out of your comfort zone. Despite you want to be an entrepreneur or work for big firm, international experiences will always add a tremendous value to your future. Soon, I’ll move to the Netherlands for a new international adventure and I’m sure that it will provide me with skills and moments that will make me a better leader”.

Felipe Morales is a Computer engineer from Colombia and has devoted many years working at AIESEC in the UK, an international non-governmental not-for-profit organization with a focus of empowering young people to make a positive impact on society.

      Explore the Unknown    

Overall, international experiences will teach you lessons that go beyond creating a deeper network and the knowledge of foreign languages. You will grow, become more tolerant, more open-minded and consequently, a better leader.


Find out more about AIESEC’s international internships: opportunities.aiesec.org.


Market Inspector cannot be thankful enough for all brilliant minds that were willing to be part of this project and share their highly valuable and inspiring stories. We hope you are encouraged to take similar paths in the near future!

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