Meet Adrienne Serrao: A coach and educator dedicated to creating a sense of belonging
As the world becomes more interconnected, leaders recognize the need to harness the power of diversity by focusing on inclusion and fostering a profound sense of belonging. However, a lingering question remains: How can organizations effectively navigate this path toward equity, diversity, and inclusion?
When we bring together people from various cultures or ethnic groups existing independently of one another, more commonly known as a multicultural society (Schriefer, 2016), it does not always naturally lead to meaningful interactions. On the other hand, with intercultural societies, these cultural and ethnic groups co-exist, showing a deep comprehension and respect for their differences. Members of an intercultural society learn and grow from one another, resulting in collective success.
Whether you’re a leader aspiring to become fluent in intercultural communication or seeking professional development, you’ll want to learn from Intercultural Competency experts. Meet Adrienne Serrao, one of McMaster Continuing Education’s instructors, who can help you unlock the potential of your team in the Intercultural Competency program:
Tell us about your professional background.
I’ve been in the field of learning and development for over 20 years, specializing in cross-cultural training, leadership development, and coaching. After spending eight years residing in China as an expatriate, I had the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the challenges of living and working overseas which has contributed to my professional passion and interest in intercultural relations and communications. In addition to my intercultural experience, I am also a certified coach through the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and have a Certified Co-Active Professional Coach, (CCPC) designation from the Co-Active Training Institute (CTI). I am EQI 2.0 certified in Emotional Intelligence (EQI 2.0) and have a certificate in Global Inclusion from RW3.
What motivated your decision to become an instructor with McMaster Continuing Education?
I have a profound appreciation for connecting with others and creating a collaborative space for dialogue and discussion. Having spent numerous years engaged in corporate training, particularly in the realm of leadership development, I wanted to bring that same enthusiasm and expertise into the academic space.
How would you describe your teaching style?
Drawing from my background in coaching, my approach to teaching leans away from heavy lectures and instead encourages open dialogue and engaging conversations. My wealth of corporate experience, having worked with global relocation vendors, and supporting senior leaders moving to Canada, is also embedded in my classroom. To enhance course concepts, I often share my intercultural experiences and more importantly, the accompanied stories with students.
From your experience coaching and mentoring professionals in this space, what are the top challenges organizations and cross-cultural teams face today, and how do we overcome them?
Some of the top challenges organizations are facing include building trust and inclusivity amongst teams, as well as enhancing communication and collaboration. However, these obstacles can be overcome by developing an understanding of how people behave, their individual and cultural preferences, and learning how to adapt accordingly. By developing awareness and incorporating strategies that demonstrate empathy, awareness and listening, organizations can effectively navigate and embrace diversity and become more agile in their approach.
Tell us what your students will learn from you in the Intercultural Competency program.
My area of expertise is Cross-Cultural Communications, which is a critical skill for anyone leading and working in teams as we become a more diverse society. In the Intercultural Communication online course here at McMaster Continuing Education, we continually explore how to optimize team performance by creating awareness and understanding of techniques and tools to use in multicultural teams. We also discuss strategies to foster a sense of belonging for everyone on the team and the organization, regardless of their cultural background.
Who would benefit from taking this program?
This program benefits any professional; senior leadership, managers, and individual contributors all play a role in creating a positive space for cross-cultural workplaces. Additionally, the techniques, tools, and concepts explored in the program transcend all sectors and industries. Whether you’re working in an internal multicultural team or interacting with external colleagues or stakeholders from other countries or global offices, this program will enhance interpersonal communication skills and provide the theoretical knowledge necessary to lead workplace awareness.
What are some key insights and benefits students will gain?
Students will not only build self-awareness around their communication styles, biases, and preferences but will also deepen their understanding of how culture impacts communication. They will come away with concrete tips and strategies to enhance relationships, ensure better results and create more positive work environments.
What would you like to share with students interested in pursuing the Certificate of Professional Learning in Intercultural Competency?
Come with an open and curious mind and be prepared to be challenged and engaged. The more you are prepared to share your own experiences, the richer the experience becomes for the entire community of learners.
Adrienne Serrao has a BA Honours in Sociology from Queens University in Ontario and a Master of Arts in Leadership and Organization Development from the Fielding Graduate Institute, in California.
She teaches in the Intercultural Workplaces and Intercultural Communication courses at McMaster Continuing Education’s Intercultural Competency Certificate program. Learn more about the online Intercultural Competency program at McMaster Continuing Education.
Reference:Business, General, Instructor Spotlight, Latest News, Professional Development