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Conference Connections: Look Who’s Speaking at the Conference

20 Mar 2020 3:35 PM | Anonymous

We are excited to announce two of our invited speakers to you at this time.  Our Opening Keynote Speaker is Shannon Murphy Robinson, M.A., CEO of BrainSkills@Work.  Robinson is a highly sought-after organizational consultant, trainer and speaker as well as a long-time member of SIETAR USA.  Robinson is a leader in the field of neuroscience and especially in how it relates to intercultural competence and development.

Dr Mai Nguyen Phuong, Associate Professor and Lecturer at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences will present the Plenary address for the Mind Track.  With a background in journalism, cross-cultural management and leadership and change, Nguyen’s recent work bring a sharp focus on how the workings of the Mind affect our effectiveness in global contexts.

In recent interviews with Shannon Murphy Robinson and Dr. Mai Nyugen, Board Member Karen Lokkesmoe had an opportunity to learn more about their work and what they will be highlighting in their respective talks at the conference in October.

Our Opening Keynote Speaker is Shannon Murphy Robinson, M.A., CEO of BrainSkills@Work.  Murphy Robinson is a highly sought-after organizational consultant, trainer and speaker as well as a long-time member of SIETAR USA.  Murphy Robinson is a leader in the field of neuroscience and especially in how it relates to intercultural competence and development.

Meet Shannon Murphy Robinson, Opening Keynote Speaker at the 2020 National SIETAR Conference, Mind, Culture, Society.

Q:  WHAT LED YOU TO THIS FIELD - ESPECIALLY INTO THE INTERSECTION OF NEUROSCIENCE AND INTERCULTURAL WORK?  

It started with a lifelong love of other cultures.  Additionally, I’ve always been interested in and explored the Mind/Body/Spirit connections, and how the mind impacts our perceptions and how we react to others.  Then, when my daughter was born with Down syndrome, I did a deep dive into the neuroscience. Her first year of life was a crash course, reading anything and everything I could, knowing there had to be a better path than the old stereotypes based on lack and limitation. The deeper I went into the neuroscience, and particularly neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change), the more excited I got. I discovered good news not only for my child, but for others as well. Having already been engaged in the intercultural arena, I saw connections between what I was learning and human behavior when encountering difference. I realized there is a lot of hope, than we can influence and consciously shape the brain to engage more effectively across differences and extend care, compassion and create greater understanding.

Q: WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE CONFERENCE? 

I will focus on two main points.  First, from research in cultural neuroscience, there is now a much greater understanding of how deeply culture is wired in the brain. It helps shed light on how culture shapes cognition, our lenses, and even what the brain deems important or not.  This understanding can help people bridge cultural differences more effectively. Secondly, we need to engage in self-directed neuroplasticity to re-pattern the brain’s base responses to differences. Cooperation developed in the brain within groups, not between groups, and differences, particularly if they are unfamiliar or cause discomfort, can trigger a threat response in the brain. Knowing how the brain works allows us to develop strategies to reprogram our responses to be more effective when working across differences. Part of the exciting news in brain science is that our brains build new neuropathways our entire lives. We don’t quit learning as we grow older. We can now consciously direct how these new neuropathways get laid down. This offers great promise for building greater collaboration across cultures.

Q: WHAT IS SPECIAL FOR YOU ABOUT SIETAR AND THE SIETAR CONFERENCE?  WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD ATTEND?

For me personally, it’s the people, the community - it’s home.  It’s my professional home, one where I don’t ever have to try to explain intercultural and inclusion work  - they know.  It’s also a great place to learn, share the latest trends or research, and get feedback on new ideas and approaches to see what works, what resonates with people and is helpful. If you are someone who works across any aspects of difference, who wants to learn how to be more effective, how to help your teams or your company be more successful in the global marketplace - SIETAR’s conference is right for you. Whether you work in education, the corporate sector or the public sector - you’ll find information, knowledge and resources to use.

Final Note: Murphy Robinson is an accomplished and engaging speaker and as a leader in brain science and intercultural work is sure to provide both Ah-ha moments as well as openings for questions and greater learning. 

For more, please see the March edition of the SIETAR Europa Journal which features Murphy Robinson and her work:https://www.sietareu.org/seu-journal-march-2020/

Meet Dr Mai Nguyen Phuong, Plenary Speaker in the Mind Track and Guest Speaker for the April SIETAR USA Webinar: Change Management with Insight from Brain Science.

Q:  WHAT LED YOU TO THIS FIELD - ESPECIALLY INTO THE INTERSECTION OF NEUROSCIENCE AND INTERCULTURAL WORK?  

It was a combination of life circumstances and a happy accident.  I have lived in three countries. and can honestly say that I feel at home in all three.  Recently, a customs agent in Australia welcomed me back home as I went through security—I really feel more a citizen of the world. This led to a natural interest in multiple cultures.  My early work was in global leadership and change management, but I kept asking myself how and why? How do we know what we know? Why do certain strategies work while others fail? Then, the happy accident—my partner gave me a book, Wired for Culture by Mark Pagel where I started to find some answers, and many more questions.  The exploration of these questions led to a great deal of research and ultimately to the pursuit of a Masters of Applied Neuroscience.

 Q: WHAT CAN PEOPLE EXPECT TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR PLENARY ADDRESS AT THE CONFERENCE AND YOUR WEBINAR IN APRIL? 

My main message is about Hope and Hype.  I will debunk some of the misconceptions or hype about neuroscience and interculturalism.  In some cases, there are those who are misappropriating the research to excuse biases and intolerance. However, we must always be seeking, asking questions, challenging our current knowledge and understandings.  This is how we grow and develop as interculturalists and as effective global leaders. We must continue to embrace ambiguity. I will also outline how what we are learning through the intersection of intercultural and diversity, equity, and inclusion work with neuroscience provides a widening knowledge base to better understand behaviors and challenges and to develop more effective strategies for success. An interdisciplinary approach gives us great hope for the future.

Q: WHAT IS SPECIAL FOR YOU ABOUT SIETAR AND THE SIETAR CONFERENCE?  WHO DO YOU THINK SHOULD ATTEND?

SIETAR is special to me because it is inherently interdisciplinary.  It draws on academia from a range of fields (communications, leadership, management, etc.) as well as from practitioners. It brings together people who work in domestic diversity and social justice and equity as well as those working internationally.  We make each other stronger. I feel like I can have a great conversation with anyone at the conference and learn something valuable.  

As far as who should attend, really anyone who works with diverse populations.  Sharing and learning from each other in research and practice provides answers and questions to keep us growing.

FINAL NOTE:  Mai is an engaging, energetic, and inspiring professional with a solid grounding in research and science as well as application in the field as a consultant.  You won’t want to miss either of these opportunities to hear her speak.  




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