Global career experience is a competitive advantage for individuals, teams and businesses but are we getting the most out of it? There is no doubt that in today’s global economy international career experience is an enormous asset for both individuals and businesses alike. However too often there is a lingering question as to just how effectively these experiences, insights and networks are leveraged and maximised by both parties. As the demand for globally experienced leadership continues to grow, many organisations recognise the importance of providing international opportunities to their employees. Not only is it a way of attracting, developing and retaining the most talented people in the market place but it can offer significant competitive advantage in how and where organisations do business. However with industry statistics suggesting that up to 30% of returning expats leave their organisation within the first 12 months and up to 40% within the first 2 years of arriving home, is it any wonder that this loss of potential future leadership is of concern to many business leaders. Coupled with the fact that many who do remain often struggle to re-engage and meaningfully apply – let alone leverage – their experience, the impact can be even more costly. Combined with the enormous amount of untapped experience from those employees whose lives and careers have been established independently of the organisation and the loss of opportunity is almost unfathomable. With most repatriates citing loss of meaningful career opportunity as the number one reason for their departure, it is apparent that there is a misalignment between individual expectations and the organisational reality. Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect organisations to guarantee a certain type of role for expats upon their return, the value of transparent career discussions throughout each stage of the assignment can go along way to help with the transition ‘home’. Whilst it is clear that there is a very real need for a more robust talent management process for managing expatriate careers, the recent 2016 Brookfield Global Mobility Trends Survey found that only 10% of organisations surveyed reported an alignment of the Global Mobility function with the wider talent agenda and actively engaged in workforce planning and people effectiveness. Furthermore only 23% of organisations had a specific process for engaging in career planning after an assignment had been accepted; and most were only re-engaging with an employee three to six months prior to their return. As CEO’s and individuals continue to seek out international career experience, there is a strong need for pragmatic, forward thinking conversations that allow for both parties to leverage these unique insights and experiences for mutual benefit. 3 tips for managing global careers:

  1. Establish Career Partnerships: As with any successful partnership, a clear understanding of common goals, responsibilities and ownership are clearly communicated and established early. It is only when individuals and organisations truly understand each other’s objectives and ambitions that meaningful and purposeful plans can be enacted.
  2. Formalise Career Development Plans: Not only does a formal development plan demonstrate commitment and value in the employee it also helps drive career ownership, motivation and engagement. It also affords both parties with the opportunity to remain informed, relevant and proactive in identifying mutually beneficial opportunities.
  3. Build A Repatriate Induction Program: With most organisations, business units and teams undergoing regular change, it is dangerous to assume that a repatriate can simply ‘slot back in’ to the way things operate. Not only are there often significant ‘people changes’ to be navigated but also potential operational, regulatory and industry changes to be considered.  Repatriates are returning to a different business and bringing with them newly acquired knowledge, skills and networks, all of which need to be recognised.

When organisations and individuals engage in meaningful career and leadership discussions from the outset, both parties stand to reap the benefits of international experience and global thinking long after the assignment has finished.

Margot Andersen Margot Andersen TEMI’s Talent mobility and careers and leadership Adviser

What is The Employee Mobility Institute? The Employee Mobility Institute is Australia’s peak industry body specifically focused on employee talent mobility. Its mission is to advocate, promote, represent and grow the Australian Employee Talent Mobility Industry.
If you’d like to know more about the industry body contact Deborah de Cerff at

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