Hi there, I’m Cynthia Dearin.
I’m an international business strategist, author and keynote speaker. I’m also the Founder of Dearin & Associates and the International Business Accelerator. If you’d asked me twenty years ago what I’d be doing today, I probably wouldn’t have said ‘running my own company’.
I’ve always had a deep interest in other cultures and other countries, but as a child, my dream was to be a diplomat. After I graduated from law school at the University of Technology, Sydney I applied to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and was accepted as a Graduate in 2001.
I had studied French and Japanese, attended university in France and worked at Austrade in Paris while studying, so I was desperately hoping for a posting to either Japan or a French-speaking country. But here, things took an unexpected turn. I’m good at languages and so I was sent off to learn Arabic at the American University in Cairo, and posted to Egypt and then to the United Arab Emirates and Qatar instead.
A few years later I completed a Master of Middle East Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, at the University of London, left the foreign service and became a management consultant. I spent about four years working in the Middle East, as a consultant to the British and United States’ governments as they tried to restore stability to Iraq’s government and economy following the 2003 war. I also spent time working in Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Washington D.C. and London.
In 2010 I returned to Australia and became the first female CEO of the Australia-Arab Chamber of Commerce & Industry. I continued to spend a lot of time travelling to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, working with government officials and other chambers of commerce to create opportunities for trade between Australia and the MENA region.
By 2013, I had more than a decade of international experience across a variety of sectors and it became clear to me that there has never been a better time for companies of all sizes to work internationally. But I also realised that despite the enormous opportunities to use international business to make the world a better place, there was a huge lack of knowledge and capacity - other people could also see the opportunities that I saw, but they didn’t know how to access them.
This realisation was catalyst for me to create my own company, Dearin & Associates in 2013. I wanted to empower companies (especially smaller companies) to succeed internationally and to create the international impact that they dreamed of.
I started with a specific focus on the MENA region and we have evolved our offering to cover multiple countries since then. These days, our core team are located in Australia (East and West Coast), San Francisco and Chennai. We also have associates in a number of other countries including the UK, Austria and the UAE.
In 2015, I published my first book, Camels, Sheikhs and Billionaires: Your Guide to Business Culture in the Middle East & North Africa, which became an Amazon best-seller. My second book, Business Beyond Borders: How to Take Your Company Global is due for release in 2019.
I still use my French and Arabic professionally and in my personal life. I believe that one of the great privileges of having spent so many years working internationally and with people from abroad is that I have learned not just to communicate with people who speak and think differently to me, but also to understand and appreciate how they view the world.
I am also passionate about helping more women to expand their businesses internationally and have a special focus on doing just that.
I am proud of the International Business Accelerator, which launched in 2017. This is a program which aims to radically transform the way micro-to-medium sized companies launch into international markets. I believe it had the potential to empower thousands of companies to launch internationally and to create huge impacts for clients overseas, for local economies and for the companies themselves. In the years ahead I hope we can use this program to change lives everywhere.