Making Connections Overseas
Sara Knowles, a former export champion and now Language & Cultural Advisor at UKTI speaks exclusively to IFB2016 about how making overseas contacts led to her successful export journey.
Sara has more than 20 years’ experience working internationally and speaks several languages. She lived in Slovenia (1994-1998) during its early years of independence from the former Yugoslavia, where she worked as a language teacher at the University of Ljubljana’s Business School. She went on to work for the British Council and worked as an international projects manager in 26 countries in Africa, Asia, Russia, Europe, USA and the Middle East.
In 2011 I co-founded a training and consultancy business based in Manchester. Within a year I was looking to grow the business internationally, something that was a natural progression for me, having worked internationally in previous roles. It started, as export often does, with responding to a request for collaboration overseas – in my case it was Slovenia, having personal connections there.
Within six months we were co-delivering an international leadership development event with partners from Germany and Slovenia which was attended by clients from across Europe, Asia, North America and the Middle East. This was my first foray into export and with some help from UKTI, our next step was a trade mission to Switzerland.
One of the highlights of my export success was delivering services for a United Nations department and a gaining a further referral to work in Swiss company near Geneva. We later went on to deliver, through a partnership in Australia, e-learning elements of our communications programmes, enabling us to deliver services far beyond Europe through online platforms.
In 2013, I became a UK Trade & Investment Export Champion, a role designed by the North West Regional Team to enable exporters to inspire other business owners to take the plunge into the challenging but highly rewarding world of export. In 2014, I became an adviser at UKTI and I now help companies to build effective international brands, communications and marketing – a role I am passionate about given my personal journey.
Sara Knowles, UK Trade & Investment North West
To chat to a UKTI advisor about specific country market advice or how to start your export journey, register for the International Festival for Business club and secure your free one to one specialist advisor appointment during IFB2016.
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