Manbir Kaur – Helping Leaders, Teams & Organizations

Based on a survey done sometime back with the HR teams from various Global Companies, I would like  to share an interesting statistic:

39% said employees with international experience are promoted more quickly

If you are working for a global or a multi-national company, it is important for you to get international experience. The lack of it may be one of the reasons that may hold you back from a senior position in your own company.

International experience is important because companies operate across multiple “cultures” which usually have very different ways of doing business. No company can succeed internationally without a good combination of Local Skills and Global Integration.

But only a few get offered global assignments and even fewer of those get to lead a global business or function. Strong ties into the corporate and a good understanding of the business are pre-requisites of such an assignment and success depends on the candidate’s capability to integrate into the local practices. This provides an opportunity for the individual to prove himself/herself in new conditions and show resilience and adaptability. These assignments are typically short to medium term and the individual has the option to come back to home country, usually in a bigger role.

So, let us look at why companies may be looking at sending people for international assignments:

  1. Market expansion: Companies may send a seasoned resource into an existing territory with an explicit aim to grow the market. For very similar reasons, the companies send experienced folks to develop new territories for the company.
  2. Corporate Integration: As new markets expand and reach a significant size it becomes imperative to the company to get all the processes streamlined and aligned with the corporate.
  3. Gaining Insights: Corporate teams do send out individuals to specific geographies where they have some interests for gaining new insights. These assignments are about fact finding and reality checks and help companies formulate strategies for success.

But who will they offer such assignments?

Sending an employee abroad to represent the corporate or the company in another country is an assertion of that person’s value to the organization. The individual is expected to act as the face of the company/Group/Department and will be responsible for helping to maintain its corporate identity and reputation. Sending an employee on international assignment is an expression of commitment to their professional development, and international experience can help train employees for leadership roles in the future.

In short, only those people who have potential get sent on the assignment and as long as they come back successful, they have more than fair chance to get promoted. Hence, the statistic. So, if you believe you have potential and that you have proven yourself in your current roles, you should go out an seek that international assignment that will help you get ahead in the career. I suggest to take such an opportunity earlier in your career so that when the leadership role comes up, you are all set to stake your claim for it.

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