Build Abroad chats with Anne Lise Kjaer
Anne Lise Kjaer is a London-based futurist and keynote speaker. Her specialty is futures studies and consumer mindsets. She is founder of Kjaer Global,a trend forecasting agency that works with corporations, including Sony, Nokia, Swarovski, IKEA, Gap and Toyota.
Q: How can people best prepare to work in global task forces and workforces?
A: Today I think one of the greatest tools we have is the Internet – in a moment, we can understand the world in a much broader context. We can prepare and compare through snapshots of distant places via Wikipedia, YouTube or friends on social media. Suddenly, the world is more immediate and within our grasp as we become aware that everything is interconnected: people, places, nature and cultures. Ultimately, our values and our similarities – as well as our differences – give us common points of reference, and in this way we learn to appreciate other cultures. Of course, nothing replaces the firsthand experience – the journey you make to a place or culture!
Q: Do you think that international travel experiences benefit people when looking for jobs?
A: Absolutely, travelling is what makes and shapes us. Not only do we get a more open view of the world, we also acquire knowledge about different cultures. The biggest benefit is greater tolerance and understanding of things that are different to our own background.
Q: What trends are you seeing in the NGO and public sectors?
A: There is not one but many trends influencing the voluntary and NGO sector. We are seeing wider movements around building social capital, globalization, doing good and recognizing our interconnectedness – building a better world by being more transparent. In fact, my new book: The Trend Management Toolkit – A Practical Guide to the Future highlights the importance of recognizing the interconnectedness of trends to navigate the future. It’s all about connecting the dots – an essential task of our work is to imagine possible future scenarios, based on what we monitor and research. People are the center of everything we do as futurists because it is their living patterns and behaviors that shape the future.
Q: Where do you see the future of travel and the future benefits of travel heading?
A: I cannot highlight the importance of traveling enough as a gateway for human exchange, knowledge and value sharing in order to develop a wider cultural understanding in an increasingly globalized world. To me, there can be no doubt that someone who has traveled will have a very different outlook to someone who never left the place they were born. Perhaps they will be less suspicious or fearful of change and more tolerant of the differences between people; certainly they will have a deeper understanding of how the world works and how lucky we are to have the opportunities we do. I think the Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen had a very poignant point when he wrote: “To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.”
Q: How do you see younger people changing the world of travel and the international landscape for multi-national businesses?
A: Increasingly Millenials look at the world without boundaries – and most expect to travel and do international assignments at some stage in their life. Hyper-mobility simply means that we travel with much more confidence and curiosity than ever – which is key to discovering the world in a wider context – and for most young people a gap year is now the norm.