Magazine article Management Today

First Class Coach

Magazine article Management Today

First Class Coach

Article excerpt

I've been offered the chance to work in another office of the company in Europe. It seems a good career move, but I'm a bit anxious about the upheaval and not sure how easy it would be to integrate.

With the world getting smaller daily and the growing importance of achieving an international perspective, it becomes increasingly desirable to have experience of working abroad.

Andrew Truslove, a director of strategic research firm Wardle McLean, who has worked as general manager of the Czech office of an international advertising agency, believes 12 or 24 months spent working abroad should be compulsory. 'The benefits it brings to the individual can be profound - experiencing a different culture and working approach; seeing things from a non-Anglo Saxon perspective; developing aspects of one's character - all have a positive effect on one's confidence subsequently.'

Before you commit yourself, however, there's a good deal to think through. Don't dream of going somewhere you wouldn't consider a suitable destination for a fortnight's holiday. If you have a partner, and particularly if you have children, choosing the right place is crucial. However well you are doing at work, having a 'trailing spouse' who is miserable is a recipe for disaster.

It is not true that every foreign assignment is a boost to the career. Not all destinations are equal: although Truslove felt his time in the Czech Republic personally and professionally worthwhile, he found on his return that prospective employers did not share his view that this was time well spent. Try to choose a posting that is in some way significant to your organisation.

Andrew Harrison, UK marketing director of Nestle, who has worked for Procter & Gamble in Portugal, has seen many peers suspend their critical faculties when offered overseas roles, accepting assignments when they would have rejected the British equivalent. "They feel morally obliged to accept what they are offered. They don't realise how valuable they are to the company'.

He suggests visiting the proposed location - with your partner if you have one-to help make up your mind as to its suitability.

Both Truslove and Harrison recommend using relocation experts for advice, not just for help with removals and local employment law but also to set a suitable salary level, based on the cost-of-living index and relative pay levels for other expats. …

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