2011 Forty Under 40 Winner: Brenda Hagen McGuire
Friday, March 18, 2011 7:00 AM
Age 39 | President and owner, Worldwide Connect LLC
Brenda Hagen McGuire has a gift for feeling at home wherever she lives, whether it’s Australia, Japan, Switzerland or Central Iowa.
While she was a student at Iowa State University, McGuire visited 12 countries through the Semester at Sea program, and she’s been a world traveler ever since. During the past 15 years, she has traveled to about 60 countries and has lived in a half-dozen of them.
Besides spanning the globe, McGuire’s career as a cross-cultural trainer has touched the nonprofit, education, government and corporate worlds. Among her experiences, she has worked for Peace Boat, a Japanese international nonprofit organization; taught English as a second language in Ireland; worked at the U.S. consulate in Sydney, Australia; and conducted cross-cultural training for executives in Japan.
To enrich students’ knowledge about other cultures, McGuire helped launch World of Difference, now CultureAll, a Grimes-based nonprofit organization whose volunteer cultural ambassadors present programs to about 24,000 schoolchildren annually. She continues to serve as an ambassador, teaching about Australian aboriginal culture at Greater Des Moines schools.
Among other volunteer activities, McGuire has served as a board member, social chairperson and speaker for the Greater Des Moines Noon chapter of the American Business Women’s Association. She has also volunteered for Beacon of Life and Lutheran Church of Hope.
Before starting her own international business training and consulting firm, WorldWide Connect LLC, McGuire was director of global workforce development for Prudential Financial Inc., managing the New York City office and more than 500 trainers worldwide for Fortune 500 clients.
It was during her second stay in Australia that she met her future husband, during the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics. He was working for Principal Financial Group Inc.; she was working on her master’s in international communications in Sydney. After two years in Sydney together, they took a trip around the world and then returned to Iowa briefly before she went to New York to work for Prudential.
After getting married in Maui, the couple returned to Des Moines in 2007. “I had to go all the way around the world to find out what a great place this was,” she said.
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