Christal Reed, President of Global Connections, specializes in business communication skills for professional non-native English speakers. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Calgary, an Adult Education Diploma from Saint Xavier University, and a Teacher of English as a Second Language Certificate from Mount Royal College in Calgary. She is the author of the Say It Clearly and the Write It Clearly programs. As an international trainer, speaker, author, and expatriate with more than twenty years of diverse business and language training experience, she is passionate about elevating the career opportunities of non-native English-speaking professionals in leadership roles, optimizing their career satisfaction and income potential.
My Story: why I love to inspire and teach non-native English-speaking professionals
I come from a family of five, and I am the oldest of three siblings. We were a normal middle-class family with the typical fun times and problems of any other family. Throughout my childhood, my parents conveyed their strong belief in education. My Mom taught me to read, print, and count before I started grade one – and my parents beamed with pride in me for this accomplishment. The value of education was permanently imprinted on my brain by the age of six.
My parents didn’t just talk about the importance of education – they walked the talk. When I was twelve my father went back to school for a year to become a millwright, a financial hardship that kept us focused on the financial benefits that his international millwright ticket would bestow on our family when he had completed his program. When I was sixteen, my Mom decided to complete her high school education. She was working two jobs at the time, and I can remember her sitting at the dining room table late at night working through math problems and writing essays. We had a wall-to-wall bookcase in our living room, filled to capacity with encyclopedias and other non-fiction texts– should we need to look up something for our homework. My sister and I always had a few household chores to do, but our homework was the priority. Education was highly prized in our family.
However, we were a unique family in one way. We moved around a lot – I was in twenty-four schools between grades one and twelve in three different provinces. With the exception of one town we lived in, we never settled-in long enough to pursue hobbies or join clubs or explore extra-curricular talents. Therefore, my entire focus was on achieving academically, and despite the many schools that I attended, I did well. I remember that my last grade four teacher gave me her own personal award to celebrate the growth I had achieved in the short time I had attended her class. My Mom still talks about that event in my childhood. In grade eight, I attended a small, country school that was just beginning their French program. I had taken French in previous schools, so the teacher asked me to assist her with preparing instructional materials. I remember feeling pleased and proud to be given this role. I became very adept at understanding the social and academic culture of each school I attended, fitting in and catching up quickly.
Fast-forward to the ages of nineteen to twenty-six when, except for a short stint as a real estate salesperson, I was managing shoe stores. The aspect of my management position that fed my spirit was motivating and training staff. In my role as trainer, I could share my creativity, my customer service acumen, my love of learning and my passion for teaching - and I felt appreciated both by my staff and my supervisors. However, the multi-national company that I worked for went bankrupt right around my twenty-sixth birthday – and that was the best-worst thing that ever happened in my life.
At that time, the federal government offered its first entrepreneurial training program at our local business centre. This unique training opportunity was a life-changing experience for me. I was excited by the idea of steering my own ship and shooting for the stars. I completely immersed myself in all of the facets of the program, which also assigned an amazing mentor to me, Dr. Kit Silcox who is an organizational training consultant in London, Ontario. My mentor opened up his business to me, and I learned how to run a training business from the inside out. The opportunity to watch, learn, and partner with Dr. Silcox on large training projects has afforded me insurmountable business and training experience that one cannot learn in school. I will forever feel grateful for his coaching and guidance.
Over the years, I have continued my family’s nomadic tendencies, travelling to twenty-one countries, including working as an expatriate in South Korea and travelling extensively throughout my native country, Canada. Each travel experience has afforded me the opportunity to experience and study first-hand how business transactions are conducted, how problems are solved, how decision-making and leadership styles are conducted, and a host of other cultural aspects. My history of successfully adapting to new cultures gives me real-life insight into what makes Western culture unique from other cultures at the relationship level and how to assist my clients to navigate Western business culture. I am committed to articulating practical communication skills that produce confident global citizens who wield the tools to upscale their business and their careers.
A couple of years ago, I had a Chinese client who was struggling with her personal and professional relationships; she lacked self-confidence; she was highly qualified but not shining at work. Within the first couple of training sessions, I had identified the key cross-cultural behaviors that were holding her back. With awareness and feedback, she began turning around the personal and professional relationships in her life. During a recent phone call to check on her progress, this client was happy to hear from me, and one of the first statements out of her mouth was, “Christal, I nailed my presentation yesterday!” --And this is why I do what I do!