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Bridging global cultures his way

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He’s bridging global cultures

Nico Nava wants to take your brand global. The first-generation immigrant and Northeastern graduate has made a specialty of bridging cultures—from brand managing a cake business in Thailand to working as a coach for pageant contestants around the world. 

headshot of Nico Nava

If you had to isolate at any point during the COVID-19 pandemic, what did you do to pass the time? Binge “Selling Sunset”? Take naps? Catch up on the latest Sally Rooney novel or tackle “Moby-Dick,” if you were feeling ambitious?

Nico Nava ran a beachside focus group.

It was 2021 and Nava, a 2019 master’s degree (project management) and 2022 MBA graduate of Northeastern University’s D’Amore McKim School of Business, was doing freelance consulting for Calowie, a startup selling prepackaged, low-calorie dessert cakes in specialty markets in Bangkok. After months of lockdown, Nava was eager to fly to Thailand to visit the proprietor, his friend and business school classmate Sidaporn Tongsoontorn (Pam) Sidaporn, and to see Calowie’s factory and business operations. Instead of flying into Bangkok, which would have required a 15-day hotel stay under the nation’s quarantine policies at the time, Nava went to Phuket, on Thailand’s southern tip. There, “you could leave your hotel; you just couldn’t leave the island,” he remembers.

Nava was tasked with figuring out how to break Calowie into foreign markets, including the U.S. and other parts of Asia, and he suddenly found himself in an idyllic laboratory setting to do some product testing. People were in Phuket quarantining from “all over the world,” he says. “There were Europeans and Americans and a British guy, and a few people from Thailand.”

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