Tag Archives: China

Five Myths About Global Executive Layoffs and Job Market

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In 2010, the median number of weeks jobseekers had been unemployed prior to finding a job in the USA was about 10 weeks according to the  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Before the financial crisis in 2007, that number was only 5 weeks. What a dramatic change! Even more dramatic is the fact that once unemployed, the likelihood  to find a new job decreases with the length of unemployment.

The most optimist executive search companies predict a recovery in the executive job market before the end of 2011 but I remain skeptical. Here is why:

Myth # 1: Executive unemployment rate is lower than the average: With an unemployment rate in North America, still above 9% in May 2011 this recession is one of the longest since WWII. Unemployment rate started raising sharply and has been above 9% since June 2009 reaching 10% in 2010. The most fragile employees are managers in their mid 40s and early 50s who are more likely to be laid off because they cost more, are considered to be less high tech savvy and not as flexible as their younger counter parts. During the current downturn, for most companies in developed countries, profitability has been driven mainly by cost reductions rather than revenue growth.

Myth #2 : Executives layoffs are temporary. I think in countries like Japan, Germany and many other parts of Europe, the executive job market is shrinking especially for babyboomers in their late 40s and older rather than expanding mainly due to demographics. For example, the forecast for Germany predicts that the German population will shrink from 82 million in 2011 to 65 million by 2060. Aging and shrinking population will decrease overall productivity and the economy in those markets will shrink as well.

Myth #3 : Executives from developed countries will be hired in fast growing markets. Despite an imbalance between the fast economic growth  and the relatively low capacity for local education systems to produce top notch global talent in some countries, less and less expats will be sent abroad, in BRIC countries for example. Already multinational companies prefer to hire cheaper local managers, train them in Europe or US and send them back to their countries as locals ( See previous post: Is It The End Of Expat Executives ? ). New economies, especially China are catching up with new technologies and have an aggressive innovation management policy encouraging long term strategic investments even if for some economists it is plain stealing of western intellectual property rather than true innovation. Nevertheless Chinese consumers will drive the global economy for the next 100 years or so.

Myth #4 : Executives from large corporations will find jobs in small startups. Big company executives have usually big egos and are intrinsically rewarded by the power they have related to how many people they manage, the brand notoriety of their company and big numbers publicly announced in term of sales growth and profits. In small startups executives are generally doing jobs they would have delegated to ther executive assistant in their previous job. It is a whole different mind set. Startups’ managers must be more entrepreneurial and what executives learned in big corporations is often not applicable in small companies.

Myth #5 : Job market recessions are cyclic and will go back to ‘business as usual,’ I think that for the mid-level managers and top executives it will not be the case. Even if the economy recovers big companies will hired less people in general. During the last two years employees and organizations learned to be more productive with less people, it is unlikely that this trend will be reversed and some industries will continue to be outsourced to cheaper locations.

As said in the introduction of this post , the longer you stay without job, the thinner the chances to get a new one. So start searching for a job before you need to .Even if you are the big boss of a large corporation now, become a passive active candidate, learn how to network online, identify skills that are in high demand in your industry, learn about new technologies and other business sectors which are growing.

If you are around mid 40 or 50 think about who you want to be, what you want to do for your last 10,15 or 20 years of work. Look at one job at the time. The one you have now (and job search is one), the next one and your ideal job in order to have a chance to live your ideal life. Ideally work on your personal and professional development before you are at risk of being laid off. If you have already been laid-off from a big multinational or a small company, consider volunteering in non-for profit organizations for example, accept consulting jobs or temporary assignments to keep you afloat while you are looking for a more sustainable job. Starting your own company can also be an option.

Please Comment:

What do you think, will we see a recovery of the global executive job market before 2012?

How is the executive job market in your industry ?

Do you have specific tips for executives who have been laid off ?


7 Billion: Are You Typical?

Thought provoking video from  National Geographic Magazine !

You think your cultural values are universal ? Think again !

The questions that this excellent video raises are :

  • How this shift in demographics will affect the way business is done globally ?
  • Who will be the next leaders, at governments and private companies?
  • What forces will drive the economy in 10 and 20 years from now?
  • Do we have an education system that prepare our children for this new reality ?

Please share your ideas on the discussion posted in the “Global Expat Network” on Linkedin :

Click Link to the discussion if you are already a member of Expat Global Network: http://lnkd.in/gp7SEa

Happy Chinese New Year To My Fellow Rabbits

Chinese New Year is celebrated in many countries outside China and the “Chinatowns” worldwide. For example, when I was living in Japan, every new year I  bought a wood plate with the animal of the year painted on it. I usually  bought them  at the Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to the Emperor Meiji near the Harajuku Station in Tokyo.

Many Japanese are very flexible with the religion: They mix Shintoism , Catholicism and Buddhism and they believe strongly in Chinese Zodiac but also they think blood type determines the personality. Like O+ is a very open person etc.

Participating in those traditions plays an important part in enjoying a new culture but also it is a great topic for networking. If you don’t want to ask the age a  person directly, you can ask her Chinese  animal and  calculate the year or birth. For those who are not familiar with Chinese Zodiac,  every 12 years you have the same animal associated with one of the 5 elements: Water, Wood, Fire, Metal, Earth. So a complete cycle is 60 years.

This year is my year, I was born in the year of the rabbit and according to Chinese horoscope, many people will have better luck in the coming year than in 2010.

Good Luck To You, Family and Friends !

Social Media Usage Across Cultures

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With the globalization we have seen an increase of usage of social media everywhere.

According to Nielsen research (January 2010), global consumers spent more than five and half hours per month on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82% increase from the same time last year.

However there are great differences on how people use social media  in different countries. For example Brazilians are the top social media users worldwide according to another global survey by Nielsen (June 2010). People in Brazil communicate mainly  in Portuguese. The social network made by Google, Orkut, has been adopted by 50% of Brazilians internet users but is not very popular in the United States.

For global marketers and people who want to develop both local and international networks,  it is important to determine  how people from different countries interact with social media.

There are five  main driving factors that determine the choice of platforms and content:

1. Purposes of using social media

2. How open the culture is to share information online (privacy and security)

3. Online purchasing behavior

4. Languages other than English used

5. Number and types of social media users among total population

Global Usage Of Social Media

Following points are summary and analysis of the results of large global consumer surveys  on social media conducted in 2009-2010Please see sources at the end of the article

I-Regional and country trends on purpose and ways of using social media

1-Asia-Pacific region: Social media usage has seen unprecedented growth in Asia-Pacific in the past year and is now one of the most critical trends in the online sector, online product reviews are the third most trusted source of information when making purchase decisions, behind family and friends. Japan is the first Asian Twitter nation, and second worldwide after the US, with 18% of messages worldwide according to a “geolocation” study of tweets by Semiocast

China: staying in touch with a friend is the most frequent use of social media

Japan: people use mainly social media to research products to buy. Japanese people have the least appetite for Facebook with 3% of users on it. The most popular Japanese platform is Ameba. It is visited  by 38% of Japanese people online. Blogging is very popular in Japan

South Korea: staying up-to-date on news and events was the most popular. South Korea is in the top ten markets in the world when it comes to internet population. Naver, is attracting 95 percent of the Korean Internet population.

India: researching for work topped the social media usage motivation. 70 percent of social media users in India identify Orkut as their preferred social media site.

Australia: staying in touch with friends is the most common activity. Australia leads the world in social media engagement, with the highest global average for time spent per month engaging with social media, averaging over seven hours per month. LinkedIn has seen one of the fastest growth trends amongst social media sites in Australia, with unique audience numbers increasing by 99 percent from July 2009 to May 2010

2-Europe: Facebook’s reach is the widest in Italy, (69%) followed by UK(66%) Spain(57%), France (57%)

U.K.: researching product purchases

France: staying in touch with friends is the dominating motivation

The Netherlands, Italy, Spain, and Russia: staying current on news and events leads the way


Brazil’s motivation to use social media was unique and focused on “researching how to do things.”

The US, ranked researching products to buy as the number one motivation of social media activity. Watching video online is surprisingly low in the US compared to other regions.

II-Global Trends On Business and Personal Use

Based on the aggregate data from all the countries, the results show that 85 percent of  respondent uses social media for business use and 97 percent for personal use.

The top three reasons for using social media for personal use are:

  1. Connecting with friends and family
  2. Reading social media content
  3. Connecting with like-minded people

The top three reasons for using social media for business are:

  1. Building networks for business contact
  2. Reading social media content
  3. Highlighting personal and professional expertise on social media

Other leading reasons included job search, identifying potential leads, and finding product and service information.

III-Languages spoken on Social Media

Facebook reached 500 million users around the world and it is a good indicator of the trends on languages used on social media.

Facebook’s #1 language is English, with over 52% of the site’s total user base accessing the site in that language. Spanish is second  with a usage rate of around 15% of the total user base. After Spanish, the drop off is much sharper, French is third.

Source: http://www.insidefacebook.com: Article: Facebook Top 10 Languages and who is using them

Consumers’ behaviors are changing very fast on social media. Here’s a look at growth rates for Facebook’s Top 10 languages:

From http://www.insidefacebook.com: Article: Top languages Portuguese Arabic and Spanish lead-growth

Conclusion: On Social media, “One-Size-Fits All” content and ethnocentric (mainly USA) communication strategies  are no longer sustainable. To become truly global or even just to adapt to global forces that are shaping the world’s economy, the most important factor for developers, advertisers and marketers is not how large the global audience is but to know how to reach users in established and fast-growing markets through localization strategies including making content with cultural sensitivity, adjust to online behaviors of target audiences at country level and languages.


The War For Talent: Executives Working For Chinese Companies

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Article review: I found this interesting article from Knowledge at Wharton Website: The Pitfalls, Perils … and Rewards of Expat Executives Working for Chinese Bosses http://bit.ly/bkDhtd

This excellent article summarized why a lot of non-Chinese leaders are struggling  in Chinese companies.

As China’s economy continues to bounce along, human resource experts predict that an increasing number of non-Chinese executives and senior managers will be bailing out of their overseas assignments at multinationals in the country to join local employers.

Despite this statement  a lot of non-Chinese  CEOs working for local companies resign within one year.

The problem is that non-Chinese executives working for  multinationals in China are leading people  with a “coaching” like approach, counting on the subordinates’ cooperation with a clear set of procedures and guidelines.  Chinese companies are still under development and western CEOs need to be both flexible and open do deal with lack of transparency and ambiguity. They also must change their cooperative leadership style to a more top-down approach counting more on peers than subordinates.

In Chinese companies, leaders are like parents. They love you and want you disciplined and working hard,” says Mary Fontaine, global managing director, leadership and talent practice of Hay Group. This power structure is one of the “hidden rules” of Corporate China, says Tang Jun, a former China CEO for Microsoft who is now president of Fuzhou-based New Huadu Industrial Group in an interview to a local media last year.

Another aspect of why Western executives may fail in Chinese companies is the huge differences in salary and benefits. Generally, compensation packages at Chinese companies are less generous than at multinationals that pay more to compensate for their executives’ mobility.

Working for local Chinese companies may attract a different kind of leaders than multinationals. In China, but it is true also in most countries, the winning attitude for expats is to  focus on  learning and listening,  making a lot of relationship building in the first three months of their assignments.

In return, expats also might be pleasantly surprised to find that Chinese companies are open to change. “If China is going to move up the value chain to develop its domestic market, executives here have to think differently because [traditional] coercive leadership styles shut down innovation,” comments Wayne Chen of Hay Group. “We need more local leaders, who can motivate, engage and inspire their employees.”

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