I’m Sharon Kristjanson.
I have lived with an unusual mix of cultures my entire life, and I teach from an intercultural perspective. I blend personal experience with academic training in intercultural communication.
I have over twenty-five years of professional experience in developing effective modes of communication across perceived differences, in both corporate and non-profit environments. My expertise rests on a well-honed ability to identify and articulate key insights and concepts.
My parents came from two very different cultures—Icelandic and Iranian. As a family we were Canadian. We lived most of my youth in Italy, with a few years in Iran and Canada. My education was in British, American, Canadian, and Swiss systems, and in all but one of the schools the student body was very international. As a young adult I lived in France and Switzerland. I moved to the United States for the first time at age 28; initially it was another ex-pat experience for me. I married an American, and my in-laws were from Latvia. To top it off, I identify as a TCK (Third-Culture Kid).
I have assimilated, over and over again, into new cultures and environments, starting at age 6. I understand—profoundly—what it means to find commonalities even as we marvel at, engage with, or step back from, differences. I have learned that our most significant differences are in worldviews, which come from our experiences. An ability to explore someone’s context and frame of reference in a meaningful way is therefore essential to creating cohesive and effective relationships—at work and at home.
In addition to having lived and worked interculturally my entire life, I am trained and certified to educate others. I am a Certified Intercultural Practitioner, demonstrating advanced knowledge of intercultural theory and practice. I am also licensed to teach Personal Leadership, and I am a Qualified Administrator (QA) of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a premier assessment tool for measuring intercultural competence. These certifications provide a framework for educating others and measuring growth.
Prior to establishing SVK Intercultural, I was the Founder and Executive Director of a 501(c)3 non-profit organization called Connecting Cultures Through Understanding™, for which I received the David Kellum Award.
I started my professional life in finance and investment banking, after earning an Honors B.A. in economics from Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario (equivalent to an M.A. in the U.S.), and completing graduate course work in advanced economics and monetary law at The Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.
My curiosity about communicating and connecting across differences has led to a lifetime of deep learning. I share this knowledge through coaching, speaking engagements, and teaching. My heartfelt mission is to help people expand their capacity to work with differences, develop nuanced understanding of complex narratives, and create deeply authentic connections. I have found these skills to be life-changing. They help us thrive, and they generate natural leadership.