Pacific alumna reflects on her path to becoming an intercultural expert
Melissa Hahn ’13 has been fascinated by the world from a young age, when she studied her globe each night before falling asleep.
"I genuinely enjoy meeting people from around the world," said Hahn. "They always teach me something new and expand my own perspective, which keeps my work and life fresh and vibrant."
To help turn her passion for the world and international cultures into a career, Hahn founded Hahn Cultural Consulting in 2010 and has dedicated herself to helping people build global knowledge and competence in their personal and professional lives.
Based in Los Angeles, Hahn Cultural Consulting provides services to individuals, organizations and communities to help them develop a global mindset, support them as they cultivate cross-cultural competence, and guide them in strategies to effectively grapple with change.
“I get to wear a lot of different hats in my current role,” explained Hahn. “My activities include training European executives at multinational companies on how to work with their U.S. team members, advising a major university hospital about how to interact more effectively with their global patients, guest speaking on university panels about global work, writing articles about culture and global business, and collaborating on projects with colleagues in the intercultural field.”
Hahn honed her skills in international cultures at University of the Pacific, where she earned her Master of Arts in Intercultural Relations in 2013. She was attracted to the program because it emphasized practical application in that it not only provided a familiarity and fluency in intercultural concepts, but helped students learn to communicate them in a clear, impactful way.
"This was excellent preparation for my current work with executives and other professionals," said Hahn. "These individuals value my expertise and also need me to present it in a way that is accessible, relevant, and actionable for them."
Hahn first learned about Pacific when she was studying at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. A classmate of hers was an alumna from the School of International Studies, and had positive things to say about Pacific’s expertise in international and intercultural relations.
"At the time I was not sure precisely which direction I would go in my career—I just knew that I wanted it to be global," remembered Hahn. "I liked that Pacific had an interdisciplinary approach which would give me room to experiment and grow."
Much of Hahn's work as an intercultural professional places her in the messy middle where cultural norms, values, expectations and assumptions collide. Although some would find this challenging, she finds it to be a very dynamic, invigorating and fascinating space.
"It’s energizing to see how the knowledge, strategies, and approaches I provide to clients empower them to feel a greater sense of agency and confidence when working across cultures," said Hahn. "It's tremendously gratifying to see clients take something I’ve shared and use it to transform their situation."