Tag Archives: transition

Sometimes when we are living the expat lifestyle, we have to take difficult decisions and they are not always to the liking of our partner or children, especially teenagers can be quite difficult when they find out that they have to leave their friends.

Corporations approach talents for roles abroad and once you are not a single anymore, your career might have an effect on more than one life.

You might argue now that your partner knew when they married you, that you had an international outlook on your career and that you love the challenge of starting a new job in a new environment. You would argue that this person always loved your sense of accomplishment when you got a challenging job done within two to three years. You will probably also tell me, that your company will not ask you twice and that you basically do not have a choice.

We both know, that married life is not that easy and that the person you married five years ago might have changed while you have changed as well. Your spouse might have career aspirations or is just up for the next promotion.

Once you have children, your global flexibility might be even more challenged. Your kids might not want to move to another country and make new friends. Maybe they already have two native languages and do not feel like learning a third or fourth language.

Assignments

I have just read a German textbook on intercultural competence by Juergen Bolten. While this book has a few good ideas for intercultural trainers and coaches, as a Global Mobility Expert I was surprised to read, that Bolten claims that we have less international assignments, more commuters and short-termers today than ever. In the industries I work with this is only one side of the coin. Most Global Mobility reports in the last five years showed indeed an increase in short-term assignments and project workers. There are also more “commuters” (Monday to Friday in one country, the weekend in another country especially in countries that are next to each other such as France and Switzerland). We also see more international recruitment on local host contracts, but the classical long-term assignment is still prevalent in most international companies.

You know why? You actually need to be on the ground in person and immerse in the culture in order to perform certain roles such as business development, any managerial roles and especially in relationship-oriented cultures such as Latin America or India, you have to be in the country if you want to be successful. Two years in my view is generally a bit too ambitious, three years often the minimum. In reality, a lot of managers stay up to five years in the host country.

Any day now you could be asked to go on a three-year assignment to Mombasa or Mumbai. What would you do?

How do you come to a decision about an international assignment when taking all aspects into account? Over the years of working with expats and their spouses I have seen a lot of bad decision making so this is an attempt to give you guidance while not knowing everything about your personal situation.

Focus on the learning you will gain from the role more than on the financial incentives.

A lot of expats base their decisions largely on package and numbers and forget to understand more about the role and the learning of the assignment experience. Ask yourself what kind of learning you will take away, what will your spouse learn and also how it will develop skills in your children. Have an open discussion about this at the dinner table.

Show your spouse and kids how they will live by taking them on a look-and-see trip.

If you have never lived in Mumbai or Mombasa or Stockholm it is hard to imagine what daily life will be like. Going on a look-and-see-trip still seems to be the most effective way to show your partner and family what will await them in the foreign lands. Expose them to the host language too by watching movies in original language, explore and discover basic facts about the host country together.

Consider the international assignment as a family adventure and make sure that you are ready.

If you went on a hike to Mount Everest or a challenging world cruise in a sailing boat, you would expect everyone on the trip to be fit and willing to work as a team. Your relationship should be stable, both of you fit and healthy, your children well adapted in school and in general you should have an interest in your host location.

Take advantage of all programs such as intercultural training, language classes and spousal assistance programs that your company offers.

Too many times assignees tell me that they did not really know about what their company offers in terms of support. There are a lot of reasons for this and you need to take responsibility when it comes to claiming intercultural training, language classes and spousal assistance programs. If you rely only on the communication you receive from HR or Global Mobility you might miss out on some of these benefits as during your decision making phase and in preparing for the new role you might not hear all the detailed information. Speak to assignees, who have been in the host location for about a year. They will give you good tips what type of support they received and what they only found out later in the process.

Once you are done with fact-finding, make sure that you listen to all the concerns that your family raises. See if you need further help in addressing some of the concerns. Then once you decide to leave your comfort zone, you will see what a great experience an international assignment can be for your whole family.

by Teresa Marie

I thought I would write an article about a personal transition that took place this year. It was one of the biggest transitions that took place in my life and I have been wanting to share the experience ever since it happened. It came at the nudging of a friend of mine. He explained to me that what was going on with my spiritual life would reflect in the rest of my life and that if my spiritual life was in order the rest of my life would fall into order as well. He asked me if I had a special place where I practiced spiritual modalities.

The Mom Cave Chair

I explained that I had no such place but that I had a room I could convert into a place for that purpose. I realize I was fortunate to have an extra room sitting around, but he explained to me it could be as simple as just a specific chair where all I did was partake in my spiritual exercises, whatever the beliefs may be. The important aspect was that it be a place only for those special times. I set out to make my room, my “special place”. I also affectionately call it my “mom cave”. It’s a place where mom goes off to do her spiritual activities, one of which is writing, since I believe my writing is a spiritual gift. Whatever the gift, whatever the practice, I have discovered having that “one place” to do it is very important.

 

I started by putting up a life sized decal of a tree up on the wall. To me it signified a bible verse about being planted like a tree by streams of living water. I wanted to have living streams flowing from the inside of me to the outside of me. I then crocheted a quilt and put it on a chair in the room. It made it look real comfy and inviting in the room. Then came the desk, the office chair, the printer, computer, stereo, special clock with my dad’s ashes in them, filing system, special lighting, my zero gravity chair for meditation, my favorite picture (a gift drawn for me) and lastly I signed up for a writing course. I was on my way to my new spiritual haven.

This has been the best outer transition I have made in my life for years as it has caused an inner transformation in my life the likes of which cannot be measured. I have a purpose in my life now that I didn’t have a few months ago. I have also met very many wonderful, encouraging, supportive people who are also in this same craft. I feel part of a community now where I never had before. My favorite genre is poetry and I have met many poets. That is a real treat for me. The exposure to other forms of poetry have been an eye opening experience for me as well.

All in all, I would say I have my friend to thank for making the suggestion to me that I find a “special place” for the spiritual aspect of my life. I must also remember, as with all transformations that come to our lives, that we have to be able to take advice and do the hard things that come our way. Transition and transformation are sometimes interchangeable words but not interchangeable concepts. Transition has to do with the process we go through as we are transforming our lives.

What transition are you consider making at this time in your life? What kind of a transformation will it bring in your life? Are you the type that maps it all out in front of you step by step? Or are you like me, do you just take one step at a time and see where those steps lead you?

 

Teresa Marie

I am a poet and writer first of all. My favorite subject has to do with spirituality, but I am not talking about religion. In my opinion, religion ruins a lot of people’s lives. I am talking about spirituality defined as a walk with God that far surpasses anything you could find “in church” for it is a very personal endeavor. I believe spirituality, in its truest sense, happens every day in every aspect of life. I have, in my life, attended almost every denomination of church that there is out there. Even some that were “out there” (if you catch my drift). Those experiences in themselves helped me learn to discern the spirits and see if they were from God. Unfortunately, sometimes the real churches looked too much like them. There is only one right way and that is Jesus Christ. HE is the way, the truth and the light. No one gets to the Father but through HIM. I have a degree in Theology as well as diplomas in Business and Office Management. I recently published the book “How To Get Near God’s Heart” in its entirety on kindle. Just click on the link and it will take you right to it. It is priced low enough for any budget at just $4.99.

My blog can be found at www.telepublishingink.com.

Teresa Marie

FAAby Nabeha Latif

Flavia Augusta de Almeida’s dream for “alegria” started when she moved to Switzerland with her family. She had worked with many companies as an architect around the globe. However, it was next to impossible to find a job in Basel where her husband had been hired for a large pharmaceutical company.

Despite her love for architectural design, she decided to work on her own startup “alegria“.

The word “alegria” means happiness. Her company provides children products like crochet vegetable and fruit toys, which help children learn and discover new things.  This startup was crafted with an idea to support working women in Brazil and to spread happiness and love for children.

I asked Flavia about her future plans for alegria.   Her main goal for first year is the growth and marketing of alegria with the objective to grow alegria from a sole proprietorship into a GmbH. She also aims to introduce the alegria play collection into the British Market via stores which promote designer products. She was persistent to focus on the alegria’s giving back company philosophy, which is a model for a more humane centric economy.unnamed

 

Here’s a summary of my interview with Flavia Augusta de Almeida (FAA).

NL: What led to your career change? 

FAA: “Initially my career development was centered around my professional area. It was only towards the end that I opened up to Angela Weinberger and discussed the dream of alegria, and that I was seriously considering pursuing it. Not only I received more information as to where to start from and the fundamentals of setting up my own business in Switzerland, I was also provided with great incentive and positive reinforcement. We had great brain storming sessions regarding the possibility of the company, products, etc. Her enthusiasm was a great source of inspiration and encouragement for me in the development of my startup company.”

NL: What can a client expect to get from working with a career coach such as Angela Weinberger?

FAA: “Aside from the common misconceptions, job coaching is a holistic experience which involves:

1. Evaluation of career goals and prospects for progression in the current cultural and economic market setting, one finds her/himself in.                         Untitled

2. Learning how to highlight one’s professional strengths and use them to the enhancement of their professional development, with the aim of achieving the desired career goals.

3. Learning how to improve one’s weaknesses or areas which require professional improvement/development. Using these areas of professional development as goals towards effective carrier progression.

4. Learn how to network outside your professional realm.

5. Effective use of social media, such as LinkedIn, towards career development and job search.

6. Cultural awareness and its importance in today’s international job market.

7. Professional branding development and how to present yourself in order to achieve desired career goals.

Above all good career coaching offers encouragement and motivation.”

NL: What are the most common misconceptions about career coaching?

FAA: “A lot of us think that career coaching is limited to only CV review and job interview coaching. There’s so much more to it!”

NL: What are the typical sessions like with Angela Weinberger?

FAA: “I started my career development with Angela half way through my career development program and I saw a significant improvement in the structure of the sessions which were very goal oriented. Area(s) of development were identified and worked through during the session at high level. There was a lot of brain storming involved. I then had around two weeks to work on the area(s) to be developed. In this two-week period there was always email communication with Angela, where she would constantly send me articles or material relevant to my career development areas. There was constant email communication between the time we did not meet so my career development progress was continuously moving forward.”

NL: Flavia Augusta de Almeida, Congratulations on having your launched your business and thank you for this interview.

 

Nabeha Latif is a Social Media Marketer and works with Global People Transitions GmbH on a freelance basis.

by Maria GorskiMariaMaria 2013_21-2-1 (1)Maria

We are still unpacking the remains of our container, which arrived from Zurich last week. This is our third international move and we have arrived back in Denver, Colorado after almost 7 years abroad. When we decided to move back to the US, I was prepared for a bit of “reverse culture shock”. My initial mixed feelings are slowly waning as life returns to some level of normality.

Reflecting my experiences

As I adjust, I am reflecting back on my experiences of new cultures from Sydney and Zurich. Both have taught me so much. Sometimes I have a tough time pin pointing exactly what I am feeling because the changes in my perceptions are so subtle. For instance, the first time I spoke to my sons’ elementary school principal, I was shocked that he had referred himself as “Chris” and not “Mr. Goydin”.

Of course, he called me by my first name as well. It took me a few minutes to figure out why this seemed so odd. I had to get used to talking to someone with this level of informality, which wouldn’t necessarily happen in Switzerland. After that experience, I really began to appreciate a certain level of casual friendliness amongst people here. It just makes the daily chores and errands less stressful.

Kai
my son in the boxes

Finding Patience and Kindness for oneself and others

Emotionally, I think the key to adjusting is patience. Finding patience and kindness for oneself and others, especially those closest to you can make all the difference. Unexpected problems will inevitably come up. When multiple “little problems” keep cropping up day after day, the point might come when you are pushed into a rage over a relatively minor thing, like the garage door opener not working. It is times like these when humor can save the day.

Keeping a sense of Humor

Looking for the positive in situations and keeping a sense of humor also goes a long way to ease the stress of starting anew. As the cliché goes, “every cloud has a silver lining”. Lots of rain makes for lush green scenery and lots of rules make for a predictable, well-functioning society. After it’s all said and done, I have to say “it is good to be back”. It has been great to slip back into old friendships, feel free to chat with strangers, and enjoy my new community. Though we are still finding our way around the area, as the place has changed.