Changing the World through Global Business

Global Language Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of, “Using language as a tool to help fix our world.” Two leaders from our valued partner DuckerFrontier, Renata Abbud and Sebastian Silva, sat down with Krista Westerlund, GLN Mission Advocate, to discuss the role that linguistic knowledge plays in helping them to deliver excellent service to clients. We would like to sincerely thank them for their support for GLN’s mission and also for their innovative perspective on global business.


We all know the value of networking in business but how do you network around the world? Para rede in Portugal, Brazil or parts of Africa? Ke jaringan in Indonesia? In China, you might refer to this as 商業社交 shāngyè shèjiāo.There are much deeper meanings to networking in China with different levels of the concept.

Each culture has its own deep rooted traditions and yet cultures themselves are always evolving with technology, geopolitical changes, social dynamics and education. Different countries with different linguistic traditions have subtle ways of communicating with each other that reflect ways of connecting and ways of managing situations.

How do you keep up with current trends and reach more people from around the world? 

In the Washington, DC area including Northern Virginia and Maryland, Global Language Network is a resource for young professionals who are keeping pace. These professionals come from change-making industries such as consulting, nonprofit work, education, government, international organizations, think tanks and more to learn about the world in a new way.

This fall, globally competitive professionals learned about business networking in Latin America. In one special case, consultants harnessed their skills for engaging with Brazilian Portuguese language and culture over the course of 12 weeks. GLN was also able to facilitate an evening of Spanish language business networking in support of an initiative for Spanish language learning. As a non-profit, GLN is dedicated to offering a platform to those who are furthering our mission of, “Using language as a tool to help fix our world.” We offer special thanks to host organizations that allow us to help them build their skills while allowing GLN to offer more languages from around the world, fostering learning.

To thank DuckerFrontier for their enthusiasm over the years for hosting classes with GLN, we sat down with several members of their team who were extremely helpful and willing to share about their experiences as global leaders both in and out of GLN’s classroom. Renata Abbud, LATAM Business Development Associate, and Sebastian Silva, Director, Client Services, both played key roles in facilitating a very special class for GLN, so we wanted to speak with them to learn more.

DuckerFrontier is a market intelligence and consulting firm that provides tailored solutions to drive growth for clients across the B2B, healthcare, consumer, and technology sectors. Our dedicated teams serve as advisers to clients, delivering the market and industry knowledge they need to succeed at all points in the business cycle. Continuous research & insights, custom solutions, and transaction support services provide clients with timely, actionable insights to adapt and win in changing markets. The company is headquartered in Washington, DC, with offices in Troy, Mich., New York, London, Paris, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai, and Bangalore. 

As a strategic firm that gives its clients the resources to navigate emerging markets effectively, DuckerFrontier works with multinationals in situations around the world. In Washington, DC, DuckerFrontier concentrates its work on Latin America. Understanding Latin America can mean working with many different languages and cultures. While the primary working languages for conducting business are typically English or the additional native languages of their talented global team, learning to communicate in other languages is extremely helpful for building rapport when working with clients to facilitate deals. With other components of their strategies for helping clients, staying ahead in terms of sharpening language skills is one way that the DuckerFrontier team provides personalized service to clients while bringing them value professionally. 

Sebastian is natively from Peru and has been with the company as it has evolved for 4.5 years. He has been in the US for 10 years, combining a background that bridges the Americas for serving clients. Renata recently joined the team as a Brazilian with new insights into working with global markets. As a native speaker of Portuguese, Renata was inspired by a lucky chance encounter with GLN’s Founder and Executive Director, Andrew Brown, to complete GLN’s teacher training at which point, she took over as the teacher during GLN’s Portuguese Tourist class hosted by DuckerFrontier this fall.

Designed to facilitate increased travel and engagement with Brazil, Renata and Sebastian (as the Teaching Assistant), described how they were able to creatively work with GLN’s resources and materials, using them as inspiration and creatively adapting them to the classroom. Renata described how she introduced music and songs to the classroom. Using music, she was able to explain the contexts in different regions of Brazil. Through interactive activities, education about food and culture and through increasing discussions in Portuguese, the students were able to build their linguistic skills and cultural awareness while having fun. Renata was able to apply her insights as a native of Brazil along with her creative thinking and ability to effectively manage and engage a group to the successful execution of this class. 

“We saw the transformation from shy to confident speakers during the course which created a foundation for more discussions.” – Sebastian.

In addition to Sebastian and Renata, GLN would like to thank Eric Johnson who relocated to Singapore. Sebastian described Johnson’s role as a globally-minded person with a tremendous interest in languages who brought GLN to his attention. After that point, Sebastian has taken multiple classes in Brazilian Portuguese because his deep personal enthusiasm for the culture also combines with his service to his global clients. Thanks to the confidence that Sebastian has built in learning to practically use Portuguese language, he was able to live in Sao Paulo for three months and felt very comfortable in the culture. 

“I think it combines practical knowledge that appeals to travelers and builds confidence. I was prepared by GLN to navigate around Sao Paulo.” – Sebastian.

Demonstration of leadership arises in many situations, but it’s clear that this was the case, this fall, at DuckerFrontier due to the dedication, enthusiasm, intellectual curiosity and genuine interest in their regional areas of professional coverage. While high fluency is required for negotiations, there are other ways that learning languages at all levels brings value in global business.

When serving the senior managers of multinationals, those executives often rely on the knowledge and experience of those who provide them with global solutions. Speaking of their knowledge and experience of Latin America, Sebastian pointed out that when doing business in other cultures, showing a demonstrated interest in a culture as indicated through learning even the basics of a language, makes a big difference in terms of driving business deals. While he spoke from his own experience, it is globally true that in matters of business, political diplomacy, and other highly sensitive fields, connecting with people from different cultures starts with showing a willingness to appreciate them. Speaking to them in their language before switching to English is highly effective for building trust, as Renata pointed out.

“My language skills have definitely helped me to drive business.” – Renata.

Renata described how she uses her language skills to explain complex situations to clients. Her ability to do so has resulted in her ability to bring in clients who relied on her knowledge to build credibility for her products and services.

In today’s world, clients can come from all over the world even within a region of specialization such as Latin America. Learning languages and more importantly, learning to confidently communicate in those languages, is a way in which to reach and engage others. In terms of economic impact and growth, this is a way of using language as a tool to change the world and provide opportunities. 

Thanks again to DuckerFrontier, to Renata, Sebastian, Eric Johnson and those other colleagues who have engaged with GLN’s program of classes.

Want to host a class? Whether for 12 or 6 weeks, GLN’s class hosting program is a way to learn conveniently and professionally while allowing GLN to offer more classes in more of the world’s languages. Learn more by emailing Partners@TheGLN.Org.

For more information about DuckerFrontier, please visit

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