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In a world where many compete in infinite virtual space for the limited attention span and budgets of potential clientele, Sunniva Heggertveit-Aoudia has managed to attract attention to her blog and demand from readers for more of her personal brand of expertise. By trade, she is a certified coach, trainer and consultant—and now author—specializing in Diversity and Inclusion and intercultural effectiveness. This article is written nearly five years to the day that she launched her own consultancy and started writing blogs to draw an audience to her website. “I got feedback that the blogs were very good; made people reflect; triggered more thinking.” Last year, she eventually took the journey of writing, and self-published her book, Culture and Diversity: Stories for Work and Life, in May of 2015.

Learning through stories

Sunniva’s process of writing her book was similar to how she facilitates a coaching approach. Just as broadening perspectives is an important part of her coaching work, Sunniva reached out to those within her close networks to help widen the perspective offered in a book that is pragmatic, “doesn’t take that long to read, but gives [the reader] ideas and makes them smile a bit!” She borrowed the value of storytelling from her training work, having learned that “when I added personal stories, people were much more interested in learning.” Anecdotes, of course, don’t give answers, but encourage people to make meaning for themselves, which is exactly what Sunniva intended in sharing her perspective through stories. “What do you think? What is your perspective?,” she invites readers to consider throughout their experience. In fact, “the whole book is inviting the reader to reflect. And that’s how I’m coaching. I’m having a humble attitude; I’m not claiming to know it all. What’s your story?”

A new world of publishing

In telling the tale of her book, Sunniva also shared her personal experiences in building her professional identity. She responded that it’s a bit too early to say when asked her ambitions for the book. “It’s something of an experiment. One thing is to write a book, and another is to get it out. And, I didn’t know of the jungle that was out there. It’s huge!” Still, in the “new world” of publishing that she discovered, Sunniva was already signed up for publicity engagements last month and people are asking when the paper version will be released. The answer is “soon”.

The story behind the cover design

“To me,” said Sunniva, “time is precious.” At the time of our interview, she had just returned to France from Spain where she and family had made arrangements for the burial of her mother. Unexpectedly, it was important to Sunniva to keep our interview because of her mother’s passing. She explained that the original story behind the cover design of her book was that of the blind men and the elephant, which she finds to be “’spot on‘ for this book, particularly when you’re talking about intercultural diversity.” Now, it reminds her of her mother, who had collected “like 500 elephants,” and who passed away this past month with a transcript of the book by her side.

Culture and Diversity: Stories for Work and Life is currently available as a Kindle edition. Sunniva Heggertveit-Aoudia is based in France; was born and raised in Norway; and has lived in Cyprus, Switzerland and the U.S. Altogether, she has almost 25 years of strategic and operational experience in Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion and customer relations. Sunniva’s long international career has provided her with firsthand experience of the value of diverse teams. For professional inquiries about Sunniva, please contact us.

The above article was included in the July 2015 intercultures e-newsletter.

Picture Credits Title Picture „Portrait of Sunniva Heggertveit-Aoudia“: Sunniva Heggertveit-Aoudia.