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Global reach, global representation: Stepping delicately through the cultural minefield

Truly international associations must accommodate different cultures on their boards

March 29, 2019
By William Ehart


Andy Freed is quick to admit he’s American when he facilitates global association board meetings. He describes himself as a big, fast-talking guy free with baseball analogies.

But, thanks to long experience (with some missteps along the way), he has become a specialist in navigating cultural differences when boards include non-U.S. members, moving discussions along and helping reach consensus.

Freed logs more than 100 board meetings per year as CEO of Boston-area association management and consulting firm Virtual.

“You have to recognize your own shortcomings,” he told CEO Update. “We all come with our own cultural biases. We have to recognize those, be forthright and work around them.