Lally speaks on U.S. private business since 1990
Government participation in international private business has increased significantly in the past 15 years, said U.S. Commercial Service officer Michael Lally in a presentation to AU students on Friday, April 7.
The fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of the Internet have caused major changes in international business, Lally said.
"Now you're only a Google-click away from finding out what your competition is doing in China," he said.
Private businesses at home and abroad are increasingly turning to the U.S. government for help in entering the intricate and often intimidating world marketplace, said Lally. The Foreign Service has been a major source of information for international and domestic companies, he said.
The U.S. Commercial Service, the international business unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce, plays a particularly important role in Foreign Service business transactions, Lally said.
The Commercial Service promotes the export of goods and services and protects American interests abroad, he said. Lally said the core duties of the Commercial Service are: to give advice to international and domestic firms; to research previous business and credit history of firms; to create partnerships between domestic and foreign firms; and to host international trade events.
Lally said at trade shows, commercial service officers "set up deals right there on the floor for these companies."
Aside from discussing the duties and goals of the Commercial Service, Lally described his entry into the world of the Foreign Service and gave advice to students wishing to do the same.
An AU alumnus, Lally graduated in 1990 with Bachelor's degrees in International Relations and Russian Studies. He received his Master's degree from Indiana University worked at a private corporation before joining the Foreign Service in 1993.
Since then, he has worked for the Foreign Service in the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan. Later this month, he will begin serving in Mexico City as the deputy commercial counselor of the U.S. Commercial Service.
Lally stressed the importance of foreign language knowledge in a Foreign Service career. In both business and personal relations, speaking a foreign language is invaluable, he said.
Lally drew on his own experiences working in former Soviet satellites, saying that his knowledge of Russian was incredibly useful in those countries. While speaking Russian helped him at work, it was even more useful in bonding with the natives of those countries.
"In a lot of these countries, English isn't really widely spoken," he said. "If you only talk to English-speakers, you're dealing with a different part of society. When you speak their language, you get the real thing"