Our Story

Our logo…

Conveys the nature of our role as culture coaches. We create the chalice for discovery and insight into other cultures that enables coaching clients, international assignees and teams to be more comfortable, confident and competent in their roles.

Cultural Acumen (previously known as Global Interface) has a strong track record in protecting our client’s investments. Founded in 1991 in Sydney, Australia, we have provided consulting services and over 600 training programs on nearly 40 target countries/cultures, for more than 90 clients, including other intercultural management consultants worldwide.  Scroll down for the backstory….

What is an interculturalist?

The best definition is the one given by colleague Edith Coron of EOC Intercultural:

An interculturalist is a specialist who helps people develop the skills that enable them to operate professionally and personally more harmoniously and more efficiently in an unfamiliar environment and with people from other cultures.

The definition from Wikipedia extends Coron’s definition:

Interculturalism refers to support for cross-cultural dialogue and challenging self-segregation tendencies within cultures.[1] Interculturalism involves moving beyond mere passive acceptance of a multicultural fact of multiple cultures effectively existing in a society and instead promotes dialogue and interaction between cultures.[2]

And it goes on to make a crucial distinction between ‘interculturalism’ and ‘multiculuralism’:

Interculturalism has arisen in response to criticisms of existing policies of multiculturalism, such as criticisms that such policies had failed to create inclusion of different cultures within society, but instead have divided society by legitimizing segregated separate communities that have isolated themselves and accentuated their specificity.[3] It is based on the recognition of both differences and similarities between cultures.[4] It has addressed the risk of the creation of absolute relativism within postmodernity and in multiculturalism.

NOTES: [1] Multiculturalism’s Double-Bind: Creating Inclusivity Cosmopolitanism and Difference. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009. P. 169. [2] Ibanez B. Penas, Ma. Carmen López Sáenz. Interculturalism: Between Identity and Diversity. Bern: Peter Lang AG, 2006. P. 15. [3] Multiculturalism’s Double-Bind: Creating Inclusivity Cosmopolitanism and Difference. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2009. P. 169. [4] Hans van Ewijk. European Social Policy and Social Work: Citizenship-Based Social Work. Oxon, England, UK; New York, New York, USA: Routledge, 2010. P. 136.

For the full Wikipedia entry, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interculturalism


Our new name and model….

‘Cultural Acumen’ conveys our belief that the key to working effectively in the intercultural space and promoting productive dialogue and interaction between cultures requires a particular kind of acumen, as portrayed in the Cultural Acumen Model and developed through the use of our tools and processes.

cultural acumen improvement model

The Model expresses the key attitudes, knowledge and skills for deeper perception, keener discernment, and finer discrimination in practical matters relating to cultural differences and similarities. It is a dynamic process, starting with the ‘why’, developing the ‘what’ and employing the ‘how’ and, informed by experience, returning again to the ‘why’ and the intention to further narrow the gap between our intentions and results in future interactions.

The ‘why?’ or ‘moral intention’ involves the recognition that our uninformed or unconsciously-biased best intentions do not always give us the results we most desire. Developing the ‘what?’ or a ‘global mindset’ involves learning and practicing a reliable and repeatable process for increasing the number of hits vs. misses when interacting in communities and workplaces with people from other cultures. Exercising the ‘how?’ or ‘dialogue skills’ enables us more frequently to make decisions and take actions that give us the results we intend more often.

The Backstory of Our Name Change:  Hijack of ‘Global Interface’

Imagine our surprise to hear from a client in 2013 that they would be unable to pay our invoice unless they made it known to their bank that we have no relationship to a company in Taiwan…. Looking into this ourselves, surprise turned into shock when we discovered that a company with a very similar name was under investigation by the US FBI and other agencies as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction!

Here is a timeline based on our own research: January 16, 2009 The US Treasury Department designated the company and its principal as proliferators of weapons of mass destruction, isolating them from the U.S. financial system and prohibiting any U.S. person or company from doing business with them. May 6, 2013 The principal was arrested for allegedly conspiring to violate U.S. laws designed to thwart the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. December 5, 2013 The company was listed on the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Consolidated List, which is a list of all persons and entities who are subject to targeted financial sanctions or travel bans under Australian sanctions laws for the purposes of its implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1373. October 10, 2014 In the Northern District of Illinois the principal of the company pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States in its enforcement of regulations targeting proliferators of weapons of mass destruction. For details, see: http://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/pages/attachments/2014/10/22/export-case-fact-sheet-201410.pdf

And we also learned in the process about the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control’s “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List” or “SDN List”, on which the name of the company is listed on page 316 of the 940-page list as at December 23, 2014, in the category of NPWMD or Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 544.

This left us no option but to shed the name that we have worn well and with pride for nearly 25 years.  What we are not shedding is our commitment to achieving client outcomes with best practice solutions.

Our Culture Coaches…

Karen Huchendorf

Karen Huchendorf – Co-Founder and Managing Director

With an MA (Philosophy) and graduate work in organisation behaviour, Karen was trained as an intercultural communication facilitator and has delivered countless cultural training programs in Australia and internationally. A sampling of her clients across diverse sectors includes: AMP Capital Investors, Crown Castle, Macquarie University, Novartis, QBE, and Xstrata.

As a lifelong learner, she regularly attends the Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication, in Oregon, USA, where she has completed 370 contact hours to date in professional development programs ranging from “Southeast Asian Patterns of Communication” to the “Advanced Workshop: Coaching Global Executives”. In 1992 she successfully completed the acclaimed “Training to Train” program in Sydney with master trainer and author Dr Stephanie Burns. She is a co-author of Cultural Detective® Australia and is a lead trainer for Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Workshops.

Over the years she has successfully completed the following qualifying seminars and utilises these consulting tools in client programs:

  • Seven Dimensional Model of Culture and a Master Class on Seven Dimensional Model of Culture Qualifying Seminar (Centre for International Business Studies, The Netherlands – now Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Intercultural Management Consulting, June 1995)
  • Master Class on Dilemma Theory and Reconciliation (Trompenaars Hampden-Turner Intercultural Management Consulting, The Netherlands, March 2001)
  • Overseas Assignment Inventory Certification Workshop (Tucker International, USA, August 1997)
  • Intercultural Development Inventory Qualifying Seminar (The Intercultural Communication Institute, USA, May 1998)
  • Executive Coaching Program – Level 1 (The Australian Institute of Executive Coaching, Sydney, October 2001)
  • Executive Passion Maps™ Facilitator Certification (2006)
  • Cultural Detective® Facilitator Certification (November, 2006)
  • Executive Coaching Program – Level 2 (The Australian Institute of Executive Coaching, Sydney, October 2007)
  • Intercultural Development Inventory V3 Update (Hammer and Associates, December 2008)
  • Global Competencies Inventory (Kozai Group in conjuction with the Intercultural Communication Institute, USA, October 2009)
  • Tucker Assessment Profile and International Mobility Assessment (Tucker International, November 2011)

With the assistance of hundreds of country/cultural specialists to date, she has designed and delivered post-arrival training programs for people from countries including Chile, China, India, Korea, Japan, The Philippines, Scotland, Taiwan, Thailand, the U.K., and the U.S. Pre-departure programs have included over 40 destination countries ranging from Argentina to Zimbabwe. She also has delivered multi-cultural team-building programs in Bangkok, Seoul and Shanghai.

Building on her 25-year foundation as an interculturalist and cross-cultural trainer/consultant, Karen started her formal training as an executive coach in 2001 and began to practise under the trademark Global Interface Pty Ltd Culture Coaches®. In 2006 she qualified as an executive facilitator of Passion Maps™. Executive coaching/facilitation assignments have included people based in Australia, Belgium, Columbia, Hong Kong, India, New Zealand, Singapore, The Philippines and the U.S.

Karen is an active Member of the Society for Intercultural Education, Training and Research (SIETAR USA) where she serves as a Co-Presenter of workshops for ethical inquiry and professional renewal and on the Society’s Ethics Committee. She is frequently invited as a speaker/presenter on cross-cultural issues, as well as being the author of articles on these topics and the subject of interviews that from time to time are featured in Australian and international publications. Karen also has been invited as a guest lecturer for courses at the Australian Graduate School of Management, the Sydney Institute of Technology, The University of Melbourne Mt Eliza Business School, and The University of Newcastle. With Nipporica Associates and Dr Fran Brew of Macquarie University, she co-authored the “Cultural Detective®: Australia” and now also facilitates Cultural Detective Facilitator Certification Programs in the Asia-Pacific. She is an Associate Fellow, School for Social Entrereneurs, and is currently developing tools and processes for “changing the way Australia tackles racism”. In her local community, Karen volunteers as a teacher for the Primary Ethics Program, which was formed by St James Ethics Centre and incorporated on November 4, 2010.


Taruni Falconer

Taruni Falconer – Associate

Taruni is committed to bringing fresh approaches to creating sustainable, multicultural, diversity-aware organizations. She has worked cross-culturally for over three decades in business and education communities on five continents with over 70 different cultures. She is known as a catalyst in generating intercultural training programs that support interpersonal and organizational productivity. Participants in her programs appreciate her practical intercultural tools drawn from both research and rich international experience.

Taruni has a BA, Masters of Education, and Diploma of Teaching. She is a co-author in the intercultural training series, Cultural Detective® Within Australasia she is active as a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (NZATD), National Speakers Association of Australia (NSAA), and Equal Employment Trust (NZ)

Taruni is recognised as a leader in her discipline, shaping awareness and skill in our rapidly changing workplaces.

Additional qualifications and quality assurance:

  • Fellow, Institute of Intercultural Communication, World leader for professional development in diversity and intercultural communication for 35 years; over 500 contact hours to date (July 1992-2012)
  • Cultural Detective® Facilitator Certification (June, 2008) Lead Facilitator, one of 8 globally
  • Personal Leadership Associate Facilitator Accredited (Personal Leadership Seminars 2011)
  • Global Competencies Inventory (Kozai Group in conjunction with the Intercultural Communication Institute, USA, July 2011)


The Cultural Detective® Consortium…

The Cultural Detective® Consortium offer decades of experience delivering Cultural Intelligence programs to SMEs and corporates around the world. In the past five years in Australia, we have equipped professionals working with Asia with practical methods to obtain a business advantage from understanding the impact of culture in business and building cultural bridges.

A key feature of our programs is the Cultural Detective® method as applied to the entire range of cross-cultural challenges – from negotiating and influencing across cultures, to attracting and retaining talent. Karen Huchendorf and Taruni Falconer, two of the three members of the Consortium are Master Trainers for the train-the-trainer Cultural Detective® Facilitator Certification Workshop. Charlotta Oberg, the third member of our team, is a certified Cultural Detective Facilitator who has 14 years of experience delivering Cultural Intelligence trainings globally. She has lived in Malaysia, managed a sister-city program between Sweden and China, and was keynote speaker at Australia China Business Week in Shanghai, Melbourne and Sydney 2013.

We are equipped to provide Cultural Intelligence for a wide range of cultures around the globe. Examples of face-to-face trainings relating specifically to geographies of Asia include:

  • “Indonesia Ready” – a virtual program to prepare senior HR personnel heading into Indonesia post company merger.
  • “Cultural Intelligence” – China and India” one-day program focused on selling and successful negotiation.
  • “ChinaConnect” – series of half-day programs for SMEs to connect with the opportunities that Chinese visitors, students and business people bring to our region
  • “Cultural Intelligence – Asia Focus” – one-day workshop on connecting with colleagues, communities and visitors from across Asia (10 workshops delivered to date; ongoing and renewed contract)
  • Multinational engineering company : two-day “intercultural training program” on Australia for a couple from Pudong, China; five one-day programs for Indian executives from Pune.
  • Multinational manufacturing company: one-day “Working Globally” program for 12 participants.
  • Airline: half-day workshop on “Personal Global Leadership” for 45 participants.
  • Securities transactions: “Working Effectively with a Vietnam-based ODC” and information guide for business travellers for 20-40 Brisbane-based team members; program repeated for 28 Sydney-based team members.
  • Technology group: three-module regional talent program in Asia conducted in New Delhi, Singapore and Beijing.
  • Automobile and engineering company: one-day “cooperation awareness training” for 33 participants from Australia and The Philippines.
  • Gold exploration: one-day pre-departure training for senior geologists to Indonesia
  • Motorsport and engineering company: “Synchronizing as the China Team” – one-day program for senior engineers, finance and marketing personnel engaged in multiple trips to their China market
  • Oil & gas company: half-day workshop on Japan for 10 managers; two-day Australia orientation for 3 graduates from PNG.
  • Mining company: half-day workshop for business travellers, short-term assignees and expatriating employees and their partners to Singapore for 24 participants; one-day workshop for 5 participants delivered in Singapore.


International Partnerships…

Cultural Acumen is the provider of choice for a number of international consultancies. Contact Us if you need assistance in the Asia Pacific Region.

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