Over the past six years, Joseph Walker has pursued his passion for interculturalism and continuous learning through his role as BMMI’s Business Development Specialist.
Better known as ‘Joe’ across the Group, he is currently the only BMMI employee working in the USA. Joe is responsible for business development and works mainly with the contract services and supply side of BMMI’s businesses, helping draft proposals and bids, searching for new opportunities, and forming enduring working relationships with clients based in America and beyond.
With BMMI operating in 11 countries across the Middle East and Africa, Joe has also come to learn the nuances of approaching and conducting business in diverse settings. The combination of an international perspective, as well as the excitement of continuously landing new business prospects, makes the position a perfect fit for Joe’s interests and skillset.
“What’s important to me in a job is doing something new and exciting, learning new skills, meeting new people and getting more experience,” said Joe. “For me every day is different, and that is something that I really like and that I find truly enjoyable.”
Although his current position is a perfect fit for him, Joe had not originally imagined he would be working in this line of work, yet he knew that he had a passion for international and cultural experiences. This interest started in high school, when Joe became friends with some foreign exchange students who triggered his interest in dealing with diverse people and exploring cultures. In college, he majored in International Affairs, hoping to one day work in a governmental entity and deal with global issues. However, when he took his first job at a private company, he discovered that the corporate world is where he belongs.
“I believe that one of the things that enriches the world more, drives people out of poverty and improves livelihoods is the private sector,” said Joe. “Providing someone with an opportunity for a job means more to them and adds value and worth. So even though I might have come into the business side of things by chance, I am so glad that I did and I find it very interesting.”
Being BMMI’s only employee in the USA, it might come as a surprise to some that one of the things Joe enjoys about his job is the Group’s emphasis on the value of teamwork. “It might sound counterintuitive since I am the only one working here, but everything we do is a team effort, from proposals to presentations to new projects and I truly love being part of a team,” Joe said.
With BMMI including employees from over 40 nationalities, the Group is an ideal working environment for those interested in diversity and cultural interactions. “This is one of the things that attracted me to BMMI in the first place. With all these different backgrounds and nationalities everyone has a different perspective and different ways of dealing with issues – it makes working on this team interesting because you get many diverse approaches and ideas.”
Modern communications technology and the ease of global movement have made it possible for Joe to be integrated into the team, even from halfway across the globe. For example, Joe spends a lot of time on Skype calls with BMMI’s COO & Executive Vice President, Robert Smith, based in Bahrain, and Vice President – Africa, Olivier Fricot, based in Gabon. His position also entails travel when required - this year alone he has already flown to Bahrain, Djibouti and Kenya. These trips also give him a chance to meet up with the whole team face-to-face a few times a year.
Working remotely can also present some challenges, such as navigating different time-zones, but it can be very successful if approached with focus, organisation, accountability and flexibility. “I am pretty organised and self-disciplined, and as long as you are good in those areas you can stay focused and stay on top of things to achieve your responsibilities.”
Another important skill for business success is intercultural understanding, for example, through his experiences with the countries BMMI operates in, Joe has realised that doing business in Africa has some fundamental differences than doing business in the USA. “You have to go into everything with an open mind and have curiosity and interest in learning about other people,” said Joe. “For instance, while doing business in the USA or Europe is much more transactional at times, in Africa you must be truly committed for the long haul and work hard to form strong relationships, as they can be vital to business success.”
Besides success on the professional level, Joe has had many opportunities to fulfil his personal passion for forming relationships with people from across the globe, whether it be his fellow employees or others that cross his path. He also gets to experience things he had never imagined he would. “I love meeting new people, going to new places and seeing the world. That’s why I love my job, I get to learn a lot and grow professionally, but I also get to meet great people and go to places that I might have never thought of going, and the experience has been absolutely fantastic and rewarding.”