Today we’d like to introduce you to Vicki Flier Hudson.
Vicki, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Los Angeles, exposed to people from very diverse backgrounds, cultures, and religions. Growing up I always wanted to travel to Asia and dreamed of faraway adventures. I attended college at the University of California, Santa Barbara, but two weeks after graduation I decided to start over somewhere new. I did not want to start life in a place where the cost of living was so high. I moved to Atlanta to stay with a relative and find a job. I got hired shortly after by a medical devices company. A few months into my time there, I was sitting in my cubicle. I looked around at the other cubicles and said to myself, “Is this all there is to life? I go to school, get a job, and that’s it?” The company was a great place to work, but my 22 year old soul was crying out for more. I asked my boss for a leave of absence to travel. She said she could not grant me a leave except for medical reasons. I thought about it, looked at her, and said, “I understand. But I have to travel. I have to see the world. So I give my notice.”
A month later, I left my job and went to Thailand for two months by myself. I had the time of my life traveling the length of the country, taking local transport, and enjoying my freedom. When I came back to Atlanta I returned to my former company. Due to their rapid growth, they rehired me. I worked for a while and got restless again. Again I asked for a leave of absence. Again they said “no.” Again I quit, this time going to Asia for ten months. I spent time in Thailand again, then India, then Nepal. To help with my expenses, I volunteered at hospitals, clinics, and libraries along the way. When I returned to Atlanta, my company rehired me.
This went on for close to eight years. I would travel the world and come back to work, each time getting more interesting positions. At one point I ended up on a software implementation team and got to work in Germany several times.
After several years of this pattern I thought to myself, I can go on like this forever, or I can do something meaningful with the knowledge I had gained from my travels and living abroad. An idea came to me. What if I could combine my business skills with my love of interacting across cultures? During my time overseas I had written copious notes on culture and people. Why not put those to use? I could help people work successfully across differences. Thus Highroad Global Services was born. In 2004 I left my corporate job for good and started the company. My first clients were Atlanta universities who provided corporate training to large companies around town. Thirteen years later Highroad has helped countless organizations to enable effective working relationships across borders, and to release the power of global teams.
Has it been a smooth road?
It has been a relatively smooth road, though there have been struggles. Many of my struggles have been internal, such as worrying about how to provide the most value to clients, worrying about having an impact and making a difference in the world. It’s hard to accept that you can’t always fix things. Sometimes you can’t reduce bias or repair broken trust in a team. At times you have to accept that you tried and let the client be where they are, but I find that difficult. I always wonder if there was more I could have done to build bridges.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Highroad Global Services helps mid to large-sized organizations to release the power of global teams. We enable people to work at their best across borders, distance, and time. We specialize in cross-cultural training, building high-performing virtual teams, and communicating effectively using assessments. We are known for increasing skills and performance in geographically dispersed teams, building partnerships between the U.S. or Europe and India, and inspiring audiences with our conference keynotes.
As a company, we are most proud of the depth of our training and also the inspiration we offer to our clients. We personalize every learning solution to the business case of our customers, and our facilitators are all experienced in the business world as well as in intercultural work. Some of our team members are trained and certified coaches, and many are certified in assessments such as DISC and the Intercultural Development Inventory. These assessments help us put personal and concrete application in front of our clients. But what makes us truly unique is how we motivate clients to build bridges and unify teams. We tell travel stories and relate authentic team experiences, and our clients walk away inspired.
What sets us apart is our competence in both face-to-face training and live, online learning. We take great pride in our engaging, collaborative webinars, where participants learn virtual team best practices, but also apply them right there in the training environment.
I am in two professional hard rock bands in Atlanta, so music also makes an appearance in many of our presentations! My bands have played at corporate events and clients come to our shows. Music is a great way to build common ground.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I think our city is a great place for a business like mine. With the busiest airport in the world and an ever-growing diverse population, there are endless opportunities to help companies get the best from their global workforce. I would highly recommend Atlanta for those starting a business.