Tag Archives: Global Companies

Guess What Posts Were Most Read In 2011 ?

If you have a blog:

  1. What were your 11 most read posts in 2011 ? See table 
  2. Do you think those most read posts reflect your expertise or interests? I think I do 
  3. Do you write for your audience or for yourself first and then see what sticks ? Both
  4. Do you have a content strategy ? Yes but need more interactive content

Please share your own comments 

Here my top 11 Most Read Posts in 2011(click on the link to read the article)

5 Tips on How to Connect With People You Don’t Know (Part II)
Stay-At-Home Dads: A Recession Effect or Positive Choice?
Cross-Cultural Non Verbal Communication
Expat Life: Returning Home and the Grief Cycle
Social Media Usage Across Cultures
Desperate Ex-Career Expat Wives: Do Not Patronize Them!
Klout Score: Content Is Key !
How to Develop Cultural Intelligence? Intercultural Dimensions
What Leaders Can Learn From Japan’s Earthquake ?
How Is Expatriate ROI Defined In Global Companies ?
Does Raising Bilingual Children Make Them Smarter ?

Most Commented

Desperate Ex-Career Expat Wives: Do Not Patronize Them!
Lady Gaga: Are Leaders Born That Way ?
Klout Score: Content Is Key !
What Can We Learn About American Culture From Captain America ?
The Secret Powers of Time and Cultural Differences
3 Sure Ways To Never Be Happy
Resilience During Disasters: Are Expats Better Prepared ?
Is It The End Of Expat Executives ?
How to Manage Anger, It Can Be Very Positive And Incredibly Destructive
Do You Work Too Hard ? Some Cultural Perspectives
Social Media Usage Across Cultures                   

Why don’t you make a similar compilation in your blog and post the link here in the comment section? It is shameless promotion for your blog and we can cross-post feedback about the posts-thank you,


What Can We Learn From True Global Leaders ?


Image via Wikipedia

“To lead the people, walk behind them” -Lao-Tzu

What Fortune 100 global companies like GE based in North-America or French insurance company AXA, have in common ?  Why Apple, Google or 3M are among the most admired companies?

Those among the largest corporations in the world managed to surf on the wave of globalization and continue to grow despite the financial crisis mainly through their developments in emerging markets like in Asia or  Brazil.

They also have  the right  innovation strategy and manage their operations globally across cultures and markets leveraging their global assets.

As Global markets become more competitive and intertwined, companies are trying to standardize and optimize global business processes with  better leverage their global assets and talent pool.

Are You Getting The Full Potential from Your  Employees?

What Do You Do To Grow Your Global Talent Pool ?

What Skills To Look For Hiring Global Executives ?

The most difficult challenge for an expat executive like a country general manager is to be able to find congruence between various opposite interests in a highly complex environment (see picture above).

The expat executive must be able to deal with local issues such  as specific regulations and laws then explain clearly the specificity of local markets and “sell” his decisions vertically and horizontally. Be able to dismantle silos in a matrix-type organization, managing up with board members, making internal alliances with peers and encouraging bottom up initiatives from multicultural cross-functional teams.

As an expat and multicultural team leader who lived and worked for 20 years in more than 10 countries for various industries and different management functions, I have seen many successful expat executives sharing same characteristics that for me are key skills to look for when considering sending people to international assignments or hiring locals at senior management level :

1- Attitude: Look for people who are leading by influence, able to federate people across cultures, able to lead trans-functional and virtual teams worldwide. Suitable personalities have high EQ and are pragmatic, open, curious, learners, risk-takers, negotiators, diplomats.

2-Cultural Intelligence: Knowledge about local customs,cultural traits,norms,social and business etiquette. Basic “survival” language skill is enough in most cases as business is often conducted in English. Don’t make the mistake to hire a local manager because he can speak English, check his leadership and technical skills.

3-Mentoring and Coaching Skills Usually an expat is sent from the HQs to share some technical knowledge or implement global processes such as performance evaluation. In each case make sure the person is  able to “glocalize”  or adapt locally  the company’s global vision, mission, values and principles, One very good example of “glocalization” of corporate culture is Starbucks

The challenge for global companies is to be able to have the right process to assess people globally both for internal succession planning, talent management or hiring new managers. Three components should be considered:

  1. Technical skills: operations, finance, markets, regulations, innovation, HR etc.
  2.  Leadership style: Top-down, bottom-up, influence, networking, lobbying, foster creativity
  3. Cultural intelligence: Group or individualistic cultures, knowledge of cultural dimensions, able to create a third culture team

Is It The End Of Expat Executives ?

BRIC leaders

Image via Wikipedia

International HR management is changing and it is not in favor of sending more expatriates. This new trend seems to go faster than International HR management (IHRM) experts predicted. In 2010 most global companies thought that there were not enough local talents in regions like the BRIC countries and were thinking of sending more expatriates: See previous post here “Developing Global Executives: Failure Is Not An Option” . However in 2011, many global companies are now comfortable to hire local executives instead of sending expensive expatriates. This is the case in India for example where Global firms prefer local executives to expats to run Indian operations. 

Traditionally  American and European companies used to send domestic expatriates to foreign offices to share knowledge and expertise. However the cost related to sending international assignees is usually three to four times the employee’s base salary. Repatriation is often a failure with a majority of employees staying less than one to two years with the parent company after returning from abroad. 

” High Tech companies are opening offices and labs around the world, putting local managers and executives in charge. As a result, companies often train regional executives in the US and send them back to work in their home regions.” Source: Recruiters World ArticlesInternational HR Management Part I: Not Just an Expatriate Game Anymore

 I think that the way expatriates are managed will evolve toward less costly benefits but more opportunities will be given to young western talented managers willing to learn other cultures and interested to become global citizens even for less money compared to “home” as most successful  companies operate in a global environment.

The “new expat executive” will be a kind of hybrid combining the low-cost local manager with advanced knowledge of cross-cultural issues and global leadership with technical expertise usually brought by a traditional expatriate executive.


Share your thoughts in the comment section

Expats In A Bubble: A Survival Mode ?

I have been inspired by this article : Inside The Expat Bubble” Written by Patryk Kujawski for the Just landed Blog.

I  have been living in an expat bubble for 20 years: moving every 3 years on average. While I adapt usually very easily, make local friends, learn the language, eat the food, participate in cultural traditions etc, I must admit that I usually ignore all the negative things related to the places I am living in. I don’t get involved in local politics or public debates and avoid sensitive subjects such as religion or xenophobic opinions.

I think it is somehow a survival mode. It takes 6 months to fit in a new place, make friends and setup new habits. Then when I finally have settled both my family and business it is time to leave.

Another type of bubble is being assisted by the companies that send you abroad through relocation companies. While at first sight you think it is a good thing you deserve for leaving your “home”, on a long run, when you stop to be a corporate expat you have great difficulties to deal with the local bureaucracy, finding an affordable house by yourself or looking for local schools. Even during an expatriation some studies actually demonstrated that too much assistance may decrease the chances of expatriation success.

Recent studies show that the profile of an expatriate family is shifting away from the traditional expatriate profile of a male senior-level executive with a “trailing spouse” and family to up to 18% of women expatriates with dads being the trailing spouses taking care of children.

The change in demographics and the way global organizations manage the work-life issues for both expatriates and local employees  may affect the concept of “expat bubble”  In fact any employee may create their own bubble, refusing to integrate other cultures and have difficulties working in multi-cultural teams.

The danger for  global companies is the “ethnocentrism” of the headquarters, thinking that everywhere on the planet people share same opinions and cultural  values such as personal development or  time perception

If there are no proper HR policies  in place the company may lose its competitive edge very rapidly starting by not being able to attract global talent in the future.

Who sets the working norms in a global context will increasingly become an important issue. Ref.Global Work, Global Careers, and Work-Family(2010)

For additional resources about expatriates visit:  http://ExpatWomen.com/

What To Learn From A Brand That Is Trusted Globally?

Starbucks logo

Image via Wikipedia

Why Paying a coffee at Starbucks 3$ while you could get a good coffee at your local Deli or coffee shop for 99 cts?

This is not only the taste, price does not matter because you don’t drink coffee,  it is the “Starbucks Experience: Everywhere in the world Starbucks use the same design with subtle adjustments to local cultures but the offer is basically the same everywhere:  lounge-music, sandwiches and cakes, mugs with the city name and other accessories. The beverage pricing is “fixed” in local currency, 3$ for a “Tall” coffee in Atlanta or New York and 3 Euros in Paris. This means in Paris it is about 30% overvalued against the dollar.

Starbucks has a global blog with access to many countries’ pages translated in local languages.

For sure Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir and all the ” Parisian Rive-Gauche”  intellectual  elite would be horrified to know that the “Quartier Latin”,  where the French cultural revolution took place in 1968,  has already three lounges from the American coffee company around “Place Saint-Michel” . There are 50 Starbucks in Paris:  http://www.starbucks.com/blog/ah-paris! . Read more about Starbucks in France from an American Expat in France.

The customers look more or less the same in big cities: You will see in New-York or Paris, moms with babies in strollers who socialize for the whole afternoon, students writing their essays on their laptops or workers indulging in high Kcal cakes with a “Non-fat Grande Latte” or a double-shot espresso posting some pictures on Facebook or tweeting while checking their emails at lunch break. All Starbucks have a WIFI connection.

Starbucks Coffee Company has 15,000 coffee lounges in North America, Latin America, Europe, Middle East, Asia and the Pacific Rim all of them offering the same concept. For some travelers, finding a Starbucks in Qatar or Tokyo is a way to be in a known territory, feel connected with both the other clients and  the “partners” (staff) even if they are 3,000 kilometers away from their home.

Starbucks’ mission statements is almost the same everywhere slightly localized to local customers’ values but not much as you can see from he missions statements I translated from Starbucks’ blog’s country pages:

In France : We are committed to providing the best coffee in the world and the best tasting experience to our customers while managing our business in order to contribute to changing social, economic and ecological communities where we operate.

In the US: Our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time. Starbucks is committed to a role of environmental leadership in all facets of our business.

In Brazil: The mission of Starbucks is more than words on a piece of paper. It is the philosophy that guides the way we do business in our day-to-day. To establish Starbucks as the premier provider of the finest coffees in the world, without ever compromising their principles throughout our growth process.

Here the six main principles and values that drive Starbucks’ business globally:

#1 Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.

#2 Embrace diversity as an essential component of the way we do business.

#3 Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting, preparation and delivery of our coffee.

#4 Generate enthusiastically satisfied customers all the time.

#5 Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.

#6 Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

What can we learn from Starbucks to set up a personal global brand ?

1-Same principles apply for  Starbucks and your global personal brand: be yourself everywhere with the minimum of cultural adjustments in your communication strategy:  use your target audience’s  language and key words but your value offer  remains the same globally.

2-Define your global target audience your target customers’ profile  might slightly differ from one country to another but you should feel “connected”  through their values and principles otherwise your concept or unique selling point cannot work globally.

3-Values shape actions: yours and those of your stakeholders: clients, partners, employees, employers, subordinates, etc. Craft your value proposition based on who you are and what your are best at doing ?  Be aware of your perceived image in different countries: choose your target carefully. Write your personal mission statement that identify what you do that is unique for a company or a client to hire you: Combine your unique attributes+ benefits for your target audience:  Here is mine (not perfect but the key elements are there) :

“I am a professional coach with 20 years of international business management in Fortune 500 global companies in the US, Europe, Asia-Pacific, inspiring global executives to reach their full potential by leveraging difference for excellence while inventing their futures”

4-Communicate with cultural sensitivity your global offer :  Be aware of local customs and your competitors’ offer locally but if your concept has a true global value, then competition does not matter, at least if you are the first on the market. In France be formal, always use Mrs. or Mrs for first contact, in US you can use first name even if you don’t know the person. If you apply for a local job in Japan, use Japanese only if you are fluent,  in most cases International Japanese or foreign-owned companies are looking for a specific expertise and English fluency. If you have the time to learn and become fluent do, but if you can only learn “survival Japanese” to break the ice that is fine as in business settings a translator will probably be used even if your partner is fluent in English.

How Is Expatriate ROI Defined In Global Companies ?

[tweetmeme source=”AnneEgros”]

Because of the financial crisis, the C-suite executives’ salary, benefits and advantages have been on intense scrutiny lately.  For expatriate executives, the costs can be three to four times the costs of local employees.

From a HRM point of view it might be tempting to cut the expatriate’s benefits and hire local talent which might not be possible for some senior executive positions such as country managers in China, Brazil or Russia.

In fact more and more global companies are sending expatriates not only to share knowledge but also to build global teams with local understandings of market constraints or regulations to define competitive global and local strategies.

When the corporate culture is very strong like for Coca Cola, L’Oreal or GE,  it is important to have expatriates moving every 3 to 5 years with some returns to the HQs’ home in between for developing “third cultures”. ” Third cultures” means people who think and act “glocally” and share strong corporate values.

Even if more and more people work in  a “virtual” environment, the physical presence of a human is necessary to build such “third culture teams”. If you are familiar with expatiate topics then you know that it is the same for children of expatriates who are called the “Third Culture Kids” or TCKs.

Many HRM in global companies want  to measure the return on investment (ROI) from expatriates to define global HRM practices and measure performance. However they might be a disconnection with business managers who do not see the value of such indicator.

ROI can be defined as “value the employee brings”/ total costs (direct and indirect)

If costs are relatively easy do determine, value can be short-term or long-term and a part of it is subjective such as the impact of the executive ‘s network. and his/her personal reputation.

Yvonne McNulty from Department of Management, School of Business and Economics of
Monash University conducted in-depth interviews with 50 mobility managers in global firms over a 2-year period from 2004 to 2006.  I highlighted her main findings but you can find the full report at the end of this article.

Our findings suggest that firms do not have formal procedures in place to measure expatriate ROI and instead rely heavily on informal practices that are seldom aligned to a global strategy

This is not really surprising because of the diversity of expatriates profiles, roles and impacts on the entire organization vary greatly from one individual to another and change with countries.

International assignments are considered a necessary cost of doing business for global firms, how expatriates are managed in terms of the HR practices that support their activities and how the outcomes of those activities impact broader firm performance may be important concerns

Even if it is important for HRM to have standards and guidelines, if a company wants to attract global talent willing to relocate and make sacrifices both from family, spouse and career points of view, flexibility is required and even today with 10% unemployment rate in the USA it is still hard to find good executives willing to become expatriates.

Based on evidence that the nature of expatriation is rapidly changing, we conclude that expatriate ROI remains a challenging and complex process that managers in global firms are currently not well-equipped to address

Reference: http://www.thetrailingspouse.com/docs/Industry_Report_May_2010.pdf

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