To be a more effective global leader, professionals, including supply management practitioners, need global experience. The best — and sometimes most difficult — way to gain it
is an expatriate assignment.
Living outside one’s home country is a life-changing experience
that teaches people how to function better in a global company.
Even obvious basics such as coping with time-zone differences,
foreign currencies, and cultural and language obstacles can
be more easily learned by living abroad. It’s hard to gain a real
understanding about cultural differences without spending time in
a foreign country for more than a vacation or short assignment.
At the heart of an expatriate experience is learning. It’s hard to
unlearn what is learned on such an assignment. Once expats
experience life outside their comfort zones, they become different
individuals and professionals — as well as more diverse thinkers.
One of the greatest advantages of living abroad is simply the
realization that things are different elsewhere. Many people grow
up assuming the world is just like them. By living abroad, they
can jump the chasm from assuming they know how things are
to observing them with an open mind. Or better, they can start
asking questions about how things really work in other places —
While challenging, a global assignment
offers opportunities for risk-taking,
overcoming obstacles and learning.
BY DEBBIE FOGEL-MONNISSEN
SHAPE CAREERS –
AND CHANGE LIVES