Making a global card program pay off.

When building a global Commercial Card program, a solid internal foundation, including executive support, sets the stage. However, plans can still go awry if you overlook an important element that influences every region/country on your expansion list. Industry veteran Bogdan Roman describes the impact of local culture and provides some country-specific examples. The following content (part two) concludes my recent interview with him; see also part one

Bogdan Roman has more than seven years of Commercial Card experience. His specialty is managing and growing global card programs. In addition to the United States and Canada, his experience spans multiple regions/countries including India, Singapore, Australia, UK, France, Germany, Israel, and Brazil. He is currently seeking new opportunities to apply his expertise in helping other companies avoid common pitfalls when embarking on global programs. Email Bogdan or get in touch through LinkedIn.

Cultural Differences

Q: What advice do you have for managing cultural differences? 

A: Always be open to multiple methodologies for implementing changes within other countries. In my experience, communication, change management and training must be well thought out. For example, in a previous system upgrade for the North America employees, the core team decided to use a great infographic poster in all locations, but the language had to be customized to make sense in each country. The fun and exciting way to communicate the changes didn’t translate well in India, so the team had to localize the language to each location to ensure the intended message wasn’t lost in translation. The best way to think about it is a global card program with a local touch.

Q: What are some other country-specific recommendations?

A: In Brazil, I would focus on language requirements and also ensure one’s organization is doing its own diligence, receiving input from a legal counsel that is in line with the organization’s risk appetite. 

With respect to India, I learned that automated emails from the global card program office didn’t garner the same attention as the ones received from the local executives. I had to engage with our local executives and ask them to send critical messages. Stop trying something that culturally doesn’t work and employ what does work for that culture.

Another global example is doing business in Israel. Due to network partner agreements, I experienced that some global P-Cards might have limited acceptance. As a program manager, what is your backup plan? Have you considered an agreement with a local bank?

In the UK or any other country with a value added tax (VAT) system, I found the tendency of the local finance/accounting teams was to ignore P-Card as a payment method due to cumbersome VAT amount capture. They would move the procurement/payment to a traditional purchase order (PO). I reiterate my earlier recommendation for continuous communication, training and change management with these remote teams to highlight the true P-Card potential, such as speed and convenience. One should always consider what is important to the customer, not just what is important to the administration team.

 To make your global card program pay off, understand cultural differences, tailoring your actions and communications accordingly.

To make your global card program pay off, understand cultural differences, tailoring your actions and communications accordingly.

Stop trying something that culturally doesn’t work and employ what does work for that culture.
— Bogdan Roman, industry veteran

Final Advice

Q: What else would you add in conjunction with global Commercial Card program success?

A: The best advice I can offer without jumping into too many details is to use your existing resources like your specific bank and network providers. I managed many Commercial Card programs with many different banks and networks. All of them were eager to help and extend as much information as possible.


About the Author

Blog post author Lynn Larson, CPCP, is the founder of Recharged Education. With more than 15 years of Commercial Card experience, her mission is to make industry education readily accessible to all. Learn more

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