According to the 2010 Global Financial Employment Monitor, a report published by the world’s largest specialized staffing firm Robert Half International, a majority of the 6,300 top executives surveyed feel that a candidate with a better understanding of global markets is given more serious consideration before being appointed to higher level positions. The report also states that top performers within the company usually are sent on overseas assignments, and it is perceived to be a crucial step in grooming a potential future leader. Why has global experience suddenly become the buzzword among professionals who are in midst of their career and what are the drivers behind this trend?
Cross geographical business operations are a commonplace in today’s globalized world, which is why a financial crisis that erupted on the U.S. soil gripped the whole world. Moreover, developed markets like the U.S. and those in the EU are experiencing stunted growth. Thus, in search of greener pastures, it can safely be assumed that the future growth lies within the Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) economies.
Now it would be completely wrong to assume that all markets function in a similar manner and what works in one particular market is bound to succeed and work elsewhere as well. Just as an example, consider this piece of information – Coca-Cola, tried to cash in on the American brand equity and introduced its products to the Chinese marketplace at premium rates, a strategic blunder that cost the company around $400 million within first operational year. The company (aka the decision makers) quickly rectified the mistakes, changed their strategies and now are the thirst quenchers of this 1.1 billion customer base. One thing now becomes amply clear, that for businesses to succeed in a global marketplace, they need to act global and think local, and the onus lies on its employees. And only those employees who have this kind of perspective will advance in their careers to become the future leaders.
Here are few reasons why global exposure in today’s times is no longer just nice for career advancement; it’s necessary before you assume a leadership role in your company.
- Adapting the Course: The more exposure you get to different management styles and working environments, the more flexible you will be. This can be a gilt-edged career advantage. With such experiences behind you, you are more likely to be considered for important, leadership-oriented responsibilities. A global exposure to how people perform the same tasks or accomplish the same business goals will provide insights that will enrich your understanding of your own career.
- Get Armed wit Experience: Every market — like its customer base — differs from the other. For example, multi-national corporations operating across different geographies usually have CFOs who are well acquainted with GAAP or accounting systems of multiple markets. Experience with different systems thus becomes crucial under such circumstances.
- Stay on the Top: Organizational restructuring and cross border M&As are a norm now. Under such circumstance, companies prefer to promote deserving candidates to higher levels rather than bringing in new people. This particularly holds true for a cross border acquisition. If you are already armed with experience of that particular region, the choice becomes obvious. Even if your company is venturing into a new business in a fresh market, considering your experience, you always will have an edge over others. On the other hand, if your company gets acquired or merged with a foreign company, you are the last candidate to be shown the door.
On the flip side, too much of global experience can backfire too. A study undertaken by Tippie College of Business suggests that too many global assignments can hurt your career advancement. “Out of sight, out of mind” is supposed to play a spoilsport here. To be on a safer side, limit your overseas assignments to one or two.
The bottom line is, global exposure enables you to build more contacts across geographies. The propensity to find suitable business opportunities increases. Global exposure does not only make you better at your own job but also makes you keenly aware of how the others work. To put it simply, going places takes you places.