Since the new year 2014 is barely two months old, many of us are still considering new beginnings. If your new beginning involves working abroad as an expat woman, this is exciting news and you are in good company.
There is a projected boom in the number of expats over the next few years, due to organizations recognizing the value of developing leaders who intimately understand business at an international level. As you consider the option to work and live abroad, we would like to share some advice from women who have already taken the leap.
Here are some thoughts that WiSER (Women in Senior-level Expatriate Roles) have shared with us on things to consider before accepting an expatriate assignment.
Think it through: Think deeply about the implications of moving to a wholly new environment.
Find an assignment that is a good cultural fit for you and your family: It is essential to do your homework in order to truly understand the market and other relevant variables, including safety, living conditions, schools, proximity to daily activities, and so forth.
Find a female-friendly employer: If you are considering an employer who provides international opportunities, it is also important to determine whether it has a corporate culture where female employees are encouraged to identify their goals and then helped to achieve them.
Make sure your family supports you: You need to think whether or not this is a good move for your family because it does change and impact everyone in the family. Without familial support from your partner and your children, your chances of succeeding will be undermined.
Make sure it is your personal choice, not just a career move: Despite the obvious career advantages of accepting an international assignment, you want to make an authentic decision. There is too much at stake and the impact on everybody involved is so big. We’d recommended you to rather not take on an international assignment if, deep down, it is not what you want.
Even if it has not been your lifelong plan, working abroad can be an excellent fit: Even if you have never seriously considered working abroad, you should examine the possibility. Remember: We rarely regret what we have tried, but we may well regret what we haven’t tried.
It’s okay to have doubts: Despite their success in international roles, the women we interviewed revealed that they were occasionally plagued by doubts about their decision to accept an expatriate assignment.
These are what you might refer as the “preconditions” for embarking upon an international assignment. Do you have any other considerations to add? Please let us know.
Sapna Welsh and Caroline Kersten met in Bonn, Germany, as they moved there from the US and the Netherlands respectively, about four and a half years ago. With similar backgrounds in human resources and business in the international arena, they decided to take full advantage of their time in Germany to better understand women in the global workforce.
They joined forces at Leverage HR to help fast track women to the top. Moreover, they have also collaborated on their book “Worldly Women: the New Leadership Profile”.