john nesheim '86
Career field: Human Resources
Job title: HR Director
Employer: 3M Company
In two to three sentences, please describe what your current position entails.
I lead the HR function for 3M's Asia Pacific area. We have HR departments in 15 countries. Our work includes hiring, compensation, benefits, training and development, succession planning, performance management and a variety of other activities that support the people side of our business in the area.
What has been your career path to date?
I have worked in HR for most of my career. After graduation from St. Olaf I worked in Taiwan as an English teacher and small business owner. Since 1992 I've worked at 3M in plant and corporate roles as well as international. I've worked for 3M in Asia since 2000. I just finished living in Shanghai for 4 years and have now moved to Hong Kong.
How did your interest in working internationally develop?
I did a study abroad program my senior year at St. Olaf. From that experience I knew I wanted to work internationally.
Which parts of your St. Olaf education best prepared you to work internationally?
My study abroad program, for sure.
What is the most difficult or challenging aspect about working internationally?
Finding common ground with non-Americans. You do that by listening more, talking less and trying to put yourself in the other person's shoes.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working internationally?
Finding the common ground I just spoke of and then building up from there. When you can accomplish things together with folks from a variety of different cultures and perspectives, the rewards are especially meaningful and memorable.
What does being a “global citizen” mean to you?
Being respectful, seeing things from the other person's point of view, being accountable for what you say and do.
What advice would you offer current students interested in working internationally?
Get out there and experience it. You won't know what you don't know until you give an international experience a try. You can read books and talk with those who have been out there, but your own experiences will teach you more than anything or anyone else can.
Please include anything else you would like to share about your experiences.
Balance spontaneity with career planning. Be flexible with your career choices but also true to a long range goal. I always wanted to do what I am doing now, which leads me to believe that fate can be determined by a strong belief in yourself and your career goals.