Connecting beyond borders

When it comes to international business, money matters—but relationships matter more.

Such is the wisdom of Padric Gleason ’10, who works at London & Partners (London’s official promotional company) in the mayor’s international business program—which helps U.K companies expand abroad.

“International business is all about people. It’s a critical asset to be able to communicate and facilitate conversations,” said Gleason, who works with 175 small companies from a variety of fields, including digital technology, life sciences and urban infrastructure.

From his New York City office, Gleason helps U.K. companies seek out business partners, forge research collaborations, open new office locations and generally secure opportunities to sell their products or services.

Gleason’s success stems from his ability to interact with different cultures and attitudes inherent in each industry. Having the skill to navigate these different worlds and interact with confidence stems from his liberal arts education at Wheaton, and his career path since, he said.

When Gleason first stepped onto Wheaton’s campus, he wasn’t sure what major to pursue. With encouragement from Darlene Boroviak, professor of political science emerita, he chose international relations as a major.

“It fit with what excited and motivated me, and what I was curious about. I grew up in Maine, not the most globally oriented place. However, I found that I enjoyed learning about international politics, and how cultures interact with each other,” he said.

Boroviak recalls Gleason’s strong and genuine interest in international issues, and how he would support other students, with a sense of humor, to elicit great student discussions.

“It was clear to me that Padric understood that he would be living and working in a globalizing world and that he was keen to live as a global citizen. Looking for ways to connect beyond national borders seemed always to be the subtext of his life,” she said.

To that end, Gleason minored in Hispanic studies, and mastered his Spanish proficiency in Wheaton courses, and as a study abroad student in Spain and Argentina.

As a student, he also dove headfirst into the nonprofit sector, working as a summer camp counselor at Robert College in Istanbul. At that point, he considered teaching, but soon found it wasn’t right for him. He later volunteered at Brown University for a student group microfinance program (a small lending program), but he found it still was not the right fit.

After graduating, Gleason decided to move away from the nonprofit world. He took a job in investment banking and earned his M.B.A. in international business from St. Mary’s University, Twickenham (U.K.), which included a one-year work placement in London and four months of field research in Bangkok, Thailand.

From there, he earned a Fulbright Binational Business Scholarship to work in the U.S. Department of State in Mexico City—a position that blended his passion for international business and Hispanic studies. He then took a job at Mexico City-based United Nations Association of Mexico, an organization that promotes human rights, until finally landing at London & Partners.

As U.S. manager in the mayor’s business program, he helps companies see beyond the silos they work in, and how they fit in the big picture.

“It’s a generalist role, and liberal arts prepares you for that. A liberal arts education teaches you how to think, how to ask the right questions and how to make connections. Since I understand the big picture, I can add value,” Gleason said.