Former Modern Languages’ Student, Joseph Huntemann, Highlights the Importance of Foreign Language and Cross-Cultural Communication
Posted December 15, 2020
International Affairs alumnus and former Modern Languages student, Joseph Huntemann, serves as senior project manager for the Aerospace, Defense, and Advance Manufacturing (ADAM) team at the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Initially recruited to start on international and investment projects, Joseph was brought in as a Japan specialist, following his previous role working at the Japanese Consulate of Atlanta. After holding his senior project manager position for eight years, Huntemann has been promoted to managing director of the Tokyo office of the Georgia Department of Economic Development starting in January 2021.
Language as a Cornerstone
Being a point person for the Japanese business community, Huntemann relies on his strong foreign language and cross-cultural communication skills.
“I can’t speak for anyone else, but foreign language skills and cross-cultural expertise have been the cornerstone of my career. Working in economic development, almost exclusively with international businesses where there may be language barriers, it’s essential to be able to communicate effectively so important messages don’t get lost in translation,” said Huntemann.
A Georgia Tech Native
Huntemann was an International Affairs undergraduate from 2001-2005. Following graduation, he went straight in to graduate school in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. He initially enrolled in French courses, but soon became interested in Japanese culture in college because of his friendship with a fellow Tech student in the freshman dormitory. As a sophomore, Huntemann enrolled in Japanese courses at the School of Modern Languages and remained an active Japanese student until he completed his graduate program.
While in graduate school, Huntemann completed a 6-month internship in Tokyo, administered through the School of Modern Languages, sponsored by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization). Huntemann also completed a research assistantship at GTRI and an internship at the Center for International Strategy, Technology and Policy within the Nunn School.
Advice to Modern Languages’ Students
Huntemann advises students to study a foreign language for the right reasons.
“Don’t pick up a language just because you think it’s going to lead to a career path. If you want to learn a foreign language, do it because you have a passion and interest for the language and the culture. Language is not an end, but a means to an end. You’ll be more successful at language learning if you have a goal tied to it.”
Huntemann has strong ties with the Japanese community in Atlanta serving as an active board member of the Japan-America Society of Georgia and a member of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia. He works closely with JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) in Atlanta and is frequently involved in events sponsored by the Consulate General’s office of Japan in Atlanta.
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