American by birth. Swiss by marriage.
Expat in South Africa by choice.
I get it. Not in just some superficial, surface-level way. Living well abroad requires a tectonic shift. My personal experiences, collected from over two decades, led me to discover the need for impactful resources and straightforward advice. I became determined to help other expats move the needle, persevere, and live an exceptional life abroad.
- Happy but can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing.
- An organization’s leader managing an intercultural team and you’re finding it difficult to achieve work-life balance.
- A person that moved to the country where your spouse was born and raised, and you’ve tried to adapt and integrate, but you’re tired and homesick.
- An expat that’s feeling isolated but wants to make it work.
- An executive of an organization responsible for sending families abroad and you want the most robust tools and preparation to secure a successful transition.
You’ve come to the right place.
If you want to…
- Adapt to your new environment as quickly (and painlessly!) as possible.
- Achieve tremendous professional success, while carving out time for what’s personally important.
- Be an effective leader that serves as an anchor to your people.
- Cherish your unique experiences, while creating and nurturing meaningful, lifelong connections (abroad and at home).
- Feel understood, bond with, and learn from others that share your struggles.
- Stop feeling "happy but unsatisfied" and finally find more purpose and meaning.
I’ll get you there.
Free tips? Yes, please!
"1 universe, 9 planets, 7 seas and I had the privilege of meeting you."
As an intercultural strategist, I guide my clients through their heftiest challenges. Together, we swing the pendulum by identifying patterns that don’t work anymore and replacing them with new tools that do. I help clients maximize performance by teaching them new techniques which redistribute and regain energy, expediting success.
I coach them how to…
- Build the right relationships.
- Reach goals faster.
- Be resilient and resourceful.
- Fast-track adaptation.
- Battle expat fatigue before it goes too far.
- Find more purpose and meaning.
We’ll fix whatever’s pecking away at you, keeping you awake at night, and holding you back.
My clients grow by understanding their own patterns, and how their personal culture influences their thinking, communication style, and core values.
Live an exceptional life abroad.
Our experiences carve us; we collect knowledge and gain real understanding through our life's adventures.
"Sometimes I long to forget… It is painful to be conscious of two worlds."
My winding road from the Prairies, through the Alps, and into Africa.
I was born and raised in Williston, North Dakota, USA. My father operated the farm while my mother managed the house. I inherited their fierce work ethic, positive outlook, and playful sense of humor. However, a life on North Dakota’s prairies wasn’t for me; I yearned for more.
The call to adventure.
I moved to an urban jungle to get my degree. My desire to explore new lands smoldered, and I ended up graduating in a cloister in Spain. By the late 90s, I had signed on with a major consulting firm. I backpacked around south-east Asia between assignments. I was a carefree 20-something living the dream abroad -- educated, young, and ambitious.
With two weeks left in my trip to Vietnam, I met a guy from Switzerland. Love is a mighty motivator, isn’t it? It compels you to rearrange your life to accommodate it. I moved to my husband’s hometown and got married eight weeks later. Little did I know that I’d spend the next 20+ years living, traveling, and working across cultures.
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
An accidental expat.
My childhood didn’t prepare me for a life abroad. I frequently found myself sinking in unfamiliar waters. I had to reorient myself entirely and change the way I swam. Things began to get easier as I worked with the tide, instead of against it. I uncurled from the fetal position, learned from my mistakes, made some new friends, and picked up a few languages.
Chinks in the armor.
At work, I noticed the palpable effects of costly intercultural missteps. My team (myself included) buckled under the immense time, personal, and financial pressures we were facing. I realized in that moment that “knowing” was not the same as “doing.”
I cried the day I got my dream job: Head of Intercultural Management at Switzerland’s second largest company. All of the hard work and sacrifice was paying off. I experienced all the joys and pains of navigating an unfamiliar cultural context, living in a binational marriage, and raising cross-cultural children.
In August 2013, I gave up my “dream job” in Switzerland, started my own company and relocated with my family to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. This move pushed me to deal with new, unexpected challenges: Ebola at our doorstep, a political uprising, a transitional government, pre-election concerns, and a coup d’état, just for starters.
Uncertainty builds resilience.
I’ve managed the rollercoaster of supporting the expat assignment, running a growing business (even when copper cables are stolen from your phone lines), and caring for a young family. Not easy in the best of circumstances, much less while coping with an unfamiliar and turbulent environment.
In January 2016, Ouagadougou fell victim to an attack by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). This decline of security in the region was a game changer. It catapulted me into a life of navigating a family split between Burkina Faso and Switzerland. At the end of 2016, we were reunited and relocated to South Africa.
A compass for others.
My education and experiences have all led me to develop a powerful process to minimize the time required to adapt and maximize satisfaction and success abroad. I help my clients anticipate challenges, course-correct, and find solutions.
Live an Olympic Life.
Living abroad can feel like an extreme sport. The best, most talented athletes perform better with a good coach. Why wouldn't you? My mission is to help people, just like you, make the most of their international experiences. Together, we'll get you loving your life abroad in no time.
"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you."
Laurels, Papers, and Practice
Helping people love their life abroad is my passion, my mission, and the fuel that propels me forward.
Passion is nice, but it isn’t ever enough: I know that what I share with others must be client-tested and grounded in research. I hold an MA in Intercultural Communication from Arizona State University’s Hugh Downs School of Human Communication, an internationally-recognized, top-rated intercultural program. Prior to establishing my own business, I earned my stripes as Head of Intercultural Management at Switzerland’s second largest company.
Sampling of Certifications
- International Coaching Federation Certified Coach
- Trained in Solution-focused Coaching
- Martha Beck Life Coach
- Summer Institute for Intercultural Communication
- Training for International Transition
- Methods of Intercultural Training
- Effective Intercultural Teamwork
- Personal Leadership Approach
Training & Coaching Experience
Sundae has delivered training and coaching to individuals and organizations hailing from over 60 countries, across six continents.
With a strong focus on intercultural competence development, I’ve provided executive coaching to key organizational leaders across all businesses. I’ve worked with individuals living or working in international contexts, including diplomats and country representatives, first-time accompanying partners, experienced expats, CEOs, department directors, new and seasoned professionals.
I’ve collaborated extensively with European multinational organizations, Fortune 500 companies, and international NGOs active in Sub-Saharan Africa. These industries include software manufacturing, global pharmaceuticals, financial services, logistics, manufacturing, higher education, engineering, and auditing.
While based in West Africa, I worked with accompanying partners from multiple institutions for the Trailblazing Spouse® Program. Additionally, through a holistic approach, I trained inbound hires at a top audit firm in Switzerland. This method varied from their traditional country-specific orientation to deliver long-lasting results. Furthermore, across Germany, France, and India I supported a world-leading engineering company to develop their top talent.
"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterward."
I’m simultaneously proud and humbled by the public’s response to my teaching tools and strategies. My podcast, Expat Happy Hour, reached the No.1 episode in Places & Travel on iTunes. Additionally, my work has been featured in some of the most internationally distinguished resources and publications in my profession.
A few I’m particularly proud of include…
- The U.S. State Department's Foreign Service Assignment Notebook
- Expat Woman
- International School Parent Magazine
- I Am A Triangle
What Clients Are Saying
"Through her very effective coaching Sundae Schneider-Bean opened my eyes on issues where I got stuck in the transition process between Germany and Switzerland. She helped me to regain my motivation and hence I accepted many challenges in a lighter manner. Within the intercultural training I learned some of the weak spots in my personal networking and saw how I could use building networks more effectively in order to achieve personal and professional aims and wishes. Sundae is always very empathetic, professional and even hilariously funny. So time spent with her is time well spent."
Angela Weinberger, Former Head of Global Mobility, PricewaterhouseCoopers
"Being responsible for Diversity Management at Swiss Post, I have had the chance to work with the most well-known intercultural trainers in Switzerland. Sundae Schneider-Bean is among the best. One of her strengths is that she brings not only intercultural expertise but is a very passionate trainer and coach. Other things I love about working with her are her high professional standards, her true integrity and desire to always deliver top quality customer service. Any organization that is looking to partner with a trusted expert should consider working with Sundae Schneider-Bean."
Carmen Zanella, Diversity Management, Swiss Post
"I was feeling frustrated when my staff was not delivering. Due to the coaching with Sundae I realized that I was trying to change them rather than adapt and get the maximum from them. Now I am relieved of this burden. I have resolved old pending issues, better understand others' perspectives and the issues that they are facing, and I am also improving the working relationship with my superior."