In addition to the myriad responsibilities that fall upon any small-business owner, Suzanne Fox '87 has one unusual complication – a 13-hour time difference with her closest business partner. Remaining connected to a country halfway around the world has been Suzanne's challenge of choice since she was among the first group of Bowdoin students to study abroad in China her junior year. Her consulting company, which she founded in 2000, teaches businesses in China and the United States how to conduct international deals without hurting feelings or stepping on toes. Her advice is drawn from her own experience mixed with research and little common sense. "I got into this because I tripped over my feet one too many times while I was there," she says. "It's just so completely overwhelming for some."
Now an established expert in Chinese etiquette and fluent in Mandarin, Suzanne has launched a new venture to bring Chinese tourists to Maine while providing cultural support for Asian students attending Maine schools. The project, called the Maine-China Business Center, materialized after Suzanne heard her Chinese clients express a fondness for "Boston lobster" and luxury yachts without mentioning Maine as a destination for either product. At the same time, many international students would benefit academically from strengthened cultural programs and services while feeling more at home in Maine's private schools, she said. Although the venture is still in the beginning stages, Suzanne says the ingredients for a successful partnership already exist. "The potential is so exciting," she says. "I'm just trying to connect the dots."
Posted May 10, 2010