Category Archives: Third-Culture Kids (TCK)
TCK

A natural consequence of the international professional, accelerated in recent years through increased globalisation and advances in Global Mobility, is the rise of Third Culture Kids, or, children who have grown up in cultures that weren’t the passport cultures of their parents. This term originated through the work of American sociologist Dr. Ruth Hill Useem in the 1960s. You can read more about her legacy here.

Given that the term has been around for so long, some of these children have now grown up and are referred to as ATCK (Adult Third Culture Kid). Therefore, it is important that their unique experiences and those of current TCKs are recognized and better understood, as they will be shaping the future. I’d like to do just that.

TCKs Have an Expanded Understanding of the World

Research has clearly demonstrated that TCKs are more tolerant of other people, their beliefs and cultures because of their broader world views. This allows them to build relationships with all cultural backgrounds, which makes them great international assets as professionals. However, They Can Suffer From Identity Crises

A person’s self-esteem and identity is intrinsically linked to their attachment to the social constructs of culture, the sense of belonging that comes from such an attachment can often be lacking in TCKs, given that they are uprooted from their origin culture at a young age and thus they can become culturally “homeless” if their transition into the new culture is not smooth.

Often, the reverse can happen as well, with the TCK adjusting smoothly to the new culture but becoming alien to the original one. This fear is something expat parents frequently bring up with me and I always suggest that parents try to maintain a link between their children and the culture of their homeland. A great way to do that is through books, particularly those that spark the imagination of inquisitive young children. In fact, Cukibo has a range of delightful and enchanting books geared specifically for expat children that will help them learn and remember what makes their home culture so wonderful. Do read more about this series, it is called Journey to Another Homeland.

TCK’s Identity Issues Lead to  Difficulties

These identity issues, at such a critical time of psychological development, can lead to further problems down the road for TCKs. They have trouble adjusting to adult life as the feeling of not having roots like those with cultural “stability” can lead to frustration and a further loss of self-esteem. Their values can be compromised as well, particularly if the home and expat cultures have complementary cultures.

TCKs Develop Excellent Intercultural Competence

That is solely due to how the Global Mobility has changed in recent decades. Previously, most expats moved once, overseas, and built a life there. That is no longer the case, with expats moving multiple times and bonding with more and more diverse people. It is not uncommon for TCKs now to belong to 3 or more cultures, and as part of their upbringing they develop the capacity to function effectively across national, ethnic, and organizational cultures.

TCKs Also Boost Global Mobility

Surveys have shown that TCKs retain a desire to travel and move once they reach adulthood. Their professionals careers, consequently, have a focus on international travel and mobility. The influx of these ATCKs into professional spheres is pushing greater mobility and emphasis on the international aspects of their development: multilingualism, high cultural intelligence and sensitivity.

There is no denying that TCKs face the kind of challenges that non-expat children do and by overcoming those challenges, they grow up into the kind of three-dimensional and evolved professionals and human beings that are slowly ushering the world into a new era of globalism and open-mindedness.

Schools are also taking the TCK’s into account more and more. You can read more about how international recruiters can solve the family education and support internationally mobile families here.

According to Brookfield (2016) 95% of companies do not measure their Global Mobility Return on Investment.

“Given the inordinate amount of cost pressure on mobility today, it is somewhat surprising that more companies do not seem to have basic cost management practices in place. Only 62% of respondents indicated that they track costs during an assignment, and even fewer noted that a cost-benefit analysis is required at the outset of an assignment. With barely two-thirds of companies actually tracking the basic and most transparent part of their investment in assignments – their cost, it is not surprising that 95% of companies do not measure international assignment ROI.” 

This research is from 2016 and I bet if we had an updated version we would come to the same conclusion. When I speak to Global Mobility Professionals about ROI they usually roll their eyes and tell me all the reasons why it is impossible to measure Global Mobility Return on Investment in their company.

Over the last two months, I also read “Managing Expatriates – A Return on Investment Approach” by McNulty and Inkson (2013). It’s a great book, slightly academic but has really good ideas about what we can improve in Global Mobility. The authors suggest a new model and approach for expatriate ROI. I like their approach because they build on five core principles. (If you are short on time focus on Chapter 9 of the book).

As the authors state previous data based on repatriation turnover, assignment failure, assignment success and job performance were not consistently measured. To date, I often have doubts about statistics, traffic light systems, and metrics. Mainly, because I know that the data behind is often incomplete and stats are too often used to manipulate decision makers in HR and the line. This is because these decision makers are usually men in their 50ies, analytical thinkers, who need numbers to justify their gut feeling. If you have worked in an industry for 20 years, you know why you lose your best talent. You know that you have disappointed your female potential. You know that you are not doing enough for minorities. BUT without stats, you don’t see the need to change. Without suffering (as in losing clients, money, baseline) you don’t question the status quo.

Measuring international assignment ROI is easier said than done. The issue is not only about data quality and integrity. The main issue in my view is the lack of collaboration between line managers and Global Mobility Professionals. We can continue to discuss return on investment in Global Mobility for the next 10 years or we can adopt McNulty and Inksons five core principles.

We can continue looking for the magic potion that will make us look like the next CFO. (I’m thinking of Asterix as I write this. There should be an “Asterix with the GM Professionals…”).

Here are four reasons why I think we are not going to achieve a good measurement of return on investment in Global Mobility.

1) No clear assignment targets

If you want to measure ROI you need to have clear and measurable international assignment targets. Usually, assignment targets are blurry, hard to measure or non-existent. In order to determine ROI, a mix of operational indicators would need to be measured regularly. Examples include performance on assignment, repatriate retention, business volume driven by expats. We could measure savings and improvements through knowledge transfer, risk reduction, staffing stability and culture transfer from headquarter to other areas of the organization.

Most of these targets need to be transformed into measurable Key Performance Indicators. They would need to integrate into management information systems. And, we would need to have a clear understanding of what is actually expected of our expats around the world. Often this is not the case and evolves only during the assignment.

2) Flaws in the business case bring down Global Mobility Return on Investment

There should be a business case behind every international assignment and every kind of Global Mobility. Surprise…This is not self-understood.

Many companies have a hard time even differentiating between a developmental assignment and a strategic assignment. Often international assignments are not really thought through. Assignees are sent to “fill a gap”, “to accelerate a process”, “to drive more sales” and “to make them there do everything the way we do it here.” Ever heard this before?

We often do not fully understand the situation on the ground, in the host country until we have been there and done the work ourselves. Many home managers are completely oblivious to intercultural differences, the importance of local business relationships and the importance of the host language. Too often expats need a lot longer than expected to work through the intercultural transition phase, deal with family issues during the move and settling in phase and often expats overestimate their capabilities.

3) Decision makers and Global Mobility Professionals do not collaborate yet

Most managers think of “HR” as troublemakers, cost producers, and list tickers. Instead of asking Global Mobility Professionals for support in defining assignment targets and setting up a business case, they see them as the “admin, who will make it happen when I have decided”. This is a historical drama and Global Mobility Professionals have not managed to show their value to the line managers when they have taken on the role of the “Policy Police” in the past.

Managers do not involve Global Mobility Professionals because they do not think that they will get any good input from them. This process requires relationship and trust building from both ends. Line managers need to learn to trust in the Global Mobility Professional and ask them for support in defining the international assignment business case. If there is no business case or if it is not justifiable, it might be possible to consider a permanent transfer or alternative options.

4) We do not add to Global Mobility Return on Investment by focussing on bean counting

We need to stop bean counting in Global Mobility and start adding real value by supporting the talents and leaders of the company get their job done as quickly and effectively as possible. We should learn to trust expats in their decisions about budget and costs, give them a good shelve of benefits to chose from and have excellent and agile service providers available to us 24/7. We should not turn pennies around while in other parts of the company money is wasted. We should focus on what really matters and that is that we bring back the human touch into Global Mobility.

 

Angie Weinberger

PS: Sign up here to receive updates on the publication date of “The Global Mobility Workbook (Third Edition)”. Launch is scheduled for 7 October 2019 on Amazon globally.

 

 

 

Culture beats structure!

Guest post by Lucie Koch

I have been in Zürich for a few weeks now and I am starting to adjust to swiss city life. I am amazed every day by how cosmopolitan Zürich is with all the languages heard in the tram. It’s wonderful.

In my last blog post, I wrote about how entry into professional life was one kind of culture shock. I have started to adapt to the professional and Swiss cultural frame. Working for Global People Transitions is a very interesting experience, especially since I get to be involved in very diverse tasks, from administrative paperwork to exciting business development projects. I am discovering how many gearwheels must be activated and maintained for the business machine to work properly.

While I expected to have to adjust to the professional culture, I wasn’t quite prepared for the general culture shock that I experienced in Switzerland. As a child who grew up in France with parents from the cantons of Zurich and Luzern, and many family ties in Switzerland, I have been exposed to Swiss culture throughout my upbringing. I spent a few holidays in Switzerland when I was younger and identified quite strongly as Swiss. But then this month, I found myself suddenly confronted with cultural and structural enigmas: What is the deal with these expensive trash bags? Why do people eat so early? I also found myself confused about how to greet new people properly – do I offer a handshake? Should I do the ‘bise’ (kiss)? – which resulted in some awkward moments of hesitation and embarrassed smiles. It turns out, I might be more French than I thought.

These experiences made me think about the topic of mixed cultural identities, especially in the case of expatriation and specifically about the children of expatriates who grow up abroad.

Indeed, when you grow up in a country as a foreigner, especially in an area of low cultural diversity as it is the case for the French countryside where I grew up, the Swiss identity makes one stand out, especially for children. You don’t understand the other kids’ popular culture references and you speak another language with your family. The scarcity of Swiss items like cervela, landjäger, and swiss chips or mayonnaise turn them into ‘precious’ objects for the expat parents and to expat children, they appear as relics of Swiss-ness that you get to share once every other month in a kind of family tradition.

In the end, as a ‘born-expat’, one gets a reflected image of the parent’s culture. Indeed, a born-expat’s understanding of the ‘culture-of-origin’ is imagined (through the information absorbed from the media, short stays in the country or from the family’s opinions and stories) and not experienced. Therefore, young expats born abroad have an incomplete picture of a culture with which they strongly identify. The resulting culture shock, when the born-expat realizes how different reality is, can be very difficult, especially since it touches the perception of one’s own identity.

Children of expatriates are a very interesting focus of study when it comes to intercultural competence and how culture affects one’s identity and life. We are quite aware of how being an expatriate family is complicated logistically, emotionally and mentally on all members during the first years of immigration or how tricky it can be to raise children in a country in which we are not completely familiar with the education system. It is, however, important to consider that expat-children may face identity struggles when they grow up and to actively address the issues of identity and nationality during the upbringing.

Have you experienced any issues related to identity as an expat? Do you know a good way to address the question of identity with expat children?

I hope you enjoyed the read, I’ll write again next month.

Until then, have a great day!

Lucie

Lucie Koch was an intern at Global People Transitions GmbH in Zurich, Switzerland. She graduated from an Intercultural Management Master study, which led her to study in Dijon, France, a city she was already familiar with and in unfamiliar Finland (for one semester). Previously, she studied one year at Durham university (UK) as part of a Bachelor Erasmus Mobility program. She was born in 1994 to a Swiss expat couple in France. She grew up in the French countryside, around horses. She’s a self confessed introvert, fascinated by different languages, cultures, science (especially astronomy and biology) and philosophy. She also likes to spend time drawing, painting or in cinemas.

 

 

enjoys robotics

Robotics is an aspect of technology that deals with the construction, application, and operation of robots. Most people think of robots as gigantic and destructive machines which are too impossible, complicated and expensive to make. But in actuality, you can see applications of robots in everyday life – from automatic cleaners to children’s toys.

Nowadays, educators use robotics to engage students in learning important concepts like science and math. Although robots used in classrooms don’t duel with each other or shoot out laser beams, using them to explain scientific and mathematical concepts is an effective way of keeping students attentive and engaged.

A person programs a mechanical device called a “robot” to obey commands. By following precise instructions set by the programmer, the robot can speak and perform activities in response to commands and its environment.

If you’re a student planning to take on robotics courses, studying it is an excellent stepping stone to an amazing career. With technology becoming even more vital for the future, you should expand your horizon and grab the opportunity. Don’t let the myths and stereotypes hold you back.

Myths About Robotics

1. Only an expert can build a robot.

You don’t need to be a genius or have a degree to begin building a robot. With the right tools and resources, even a kid can build a basic robot.

Nobody is born knowing how to code and program a robot, but hard work, creativity, resourcefulness and perseverance are greater prerequisites for robotics than being a genius. But, of course, in order to advance or improve in the field of robotics, you need to know the basics first by enrolling in robotics classes.

2. You’re too young to learn robotics.

Even at a young age, you don’t need to be an expert so that you can program robots. The positive impact of starting early is that you learn things beyond the coding language.

There are many age-appropriate robotic tools for students which carry less risks of the learner getting overwhelmed. If you’re growing up surrounded by technology, then knowing what makes up the world can help you learn how to navigate it.

3. Robotics is only for those who want to become programmers in the future.

According to Steve Jobs, everybody should learn how to program because it teaches people how to think. While learning robotics will place you in a good career position for the future, it shouldn’t be the only reason why you should!

In today’s digital age, the demand for creative thinkers is increasing. Robotics has touched various career paths beyond simply being a programmer. So regardless of what will happen in the future, robotics is something you should consider. The empowerment and confidence you get from learning new things will surely bring you great benefits.

4. Robotics isn’t fun.

Those glimmery eyes and “aha” moments you see every time someone becomes successful with programming a robot’s are proof that robotics is fun. All it takes is one basic coding activity to spark your interest.

Robotics doesn’t only appeal to students who are interested in creative design beyond computers. In robotics, you can do anything from designing creative games to programming to sketching how your robot will look like while maintaining maximum functionality.

5. Robotics is expensive.

If you’re worried about robotics being expensive, think again. Learning how to code a robot doesn’t require expensive technology. In fact, you can start coding with simple activities which don’t involve technology.

Activities such as solving a maze puzzle, creating a name bracelet using beads, and color coding exercises all do not involve any type of electronic gadget yet effectively teach the fundamentals of coding to kids.

6. Robotics is dangerous.

It’s easy to see why others are hostile about robotics. With Hollywood movies portraying robots as antagonists, people’s minds are fed with negativity regarding machines.

Consider the aspect of robotics where they can be an instrument to save lives. Nowadays, complicated surgery and search-and-rescue missions use robotics technology. Researchers are also looking into nanorobots to possibly fight off diseases within the human body.

By knowing these myths about robotics, you can begin to erase your doubts about this amazing technology. Robotics can give you as much knowledge as possible on what career path to take in the future. It isn’t just an extra-curricular subject, it’s essential learning on where humanity is headed towards.

Truths About Robotics
1. Robotics is an effective way to introduce programming.

For someone who has no background in programming, it can be too abstract. Through robotics, you’ll learn how to control a physical robot and see firsthand what can go wrong. Eventually, you’ll learn to give more specific instructions and understand what robots can and cannot do.

Having hands-on experience in robotics also gives you the opportunity to figure out if it’s something you’ll be interested in for your future career.

2. Robotics provides skills useful for future employment.

With technology rapidly advancing, there’s no doubt that there’ll be a huge need for people who have programming skills. Through robotics, you can acquire the aptitude to land a job in the future.

Robotics is a vital part of the future.

Young children should learn about science to know how the world works. A similar argument applies to how robotics is essential to modern life. Students who have the opportunity to learn about robotics will have the knowledge to make more intelligent choices in the future.

Robotics is changing the job market.

Robots are already changing the workforce visibly. Nowadays, automation is present even in supermarkets and gasoline stations, not just in manufacturing facilities. You can expect that in the time to come, more and more jobs will involve humans working together with robots.

3. Robotics can help solve human problems.

Robotics can help solve big problems plaguing the world so people can improve their way of life. In medicine, the opportunity for robots is quite huge due to their utilization in complex surgeries. Learning about robotics and its applications allows you to make breakthroughs to benefit human society.

4. Robotics provides hands-on learning.

Robotics gives learners practical hands-on experience. You can work with a team to collaborate and use critical skills to program a robot correctly. It’s easier to gain knowledge when there’s a physical robot to manipulate and observe.

It improves your motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Robotics kits allow you to physically manipulate motors, sensor, gears and many aspects of a machines physical components.

Doing so help you practice synchronizing the use of your fingers and hands with your eyes to hold pieces, dismantle objects and manipulate the robot. When constructing a robot, you also get to master complex motor skills.

It develops computational thinking.
Computational thinking is about recognizing aspects of calculation by thinking abstractly and logically. Robotics helps develop this way of thinking by teaching you how to “think like a machine” to solve problems. This is essential for careers in engineering or anything that involves numbers.

By knowing the myths and truths about robotics, you can remove any uncertainties you have about this technology. Grab the opportunity to learn about robotics today to build a great career path in the future. After all, the sky’s the limit to your imagination, and programming in robotics!

 

Maloy Burman is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Premier Genie FZ LLC. He is responsible for driving Premier Genie into a leadership position in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Education space in Asia, Middle East and Africa and building a solid brand value. Premier Genie is currently running 5 centers in Dubai and 5 centers in India with a goal to multiply that over the next 5 years.

by @angieweinberger

In Germany there is rumor and evidence that Generation Y is not willing to work abroad. Now obviously, it is not the most important topic on German news considering we have a humanitarian crisis in Europe and refugee camps being attacked. BUT if you are a Global Mobility Professional or a global line manager who needs internationally-minded and experienced team members you might start to worry about this Gen Y. 

The underlying tenor of the SPIEGEL article is that work-life balance seem to be more . Raising a family is a value again and men and women want to share the load of educating children and careers alike. Good news for women’s careers, bad news for Global Mobility.

Is this really a global phenomenon though?

If you check out the study “Talent Mobility 2020” by @pwc you will read (and maybe tweet)

“The millennial generation will view overseas assignments as a rite of passage, an outlook that will change the way workers and organisations approach overseas opportunities in the future.”

An experience

I don’t think that Gen Y is not willing to move abroad. For me Gen Y might be over-saturated. Gen Y professionals grew up with the option of studying and working abroad before they entered the workforce. In my days having studied and worked in another country was an achievement. Now it seems very normal.

I still believe though that the experience of a long-term assignment (minimum two years) is not replaceable with working in your home region only. It’s also a different experience moving abroad for studying or an internship when you are 25 and single compared to when you are 35, married and with two children.  Believe me: You still need the experience in today’s globalized world. Also, the world has more countries than Germany. A lot of Indians, Chinese and Brazilians will love to go on an international assignment if you ask them.

 

If you want to be an effective global professional you have to have had exposure to people from other cultures and you have to have FELT the difference between working for example for a manager with a hierarchical approach who might be French versus the participatory approach of a Swedish manager. It is not enough to read about this difference. You have to experience it.  When you feel the difference you can also pick the style that suits you best once you are leader.

When you never lived in a country where people have a different skin colour than you, you might have never been exposed to cultural dominance or the opposite. You might have never understood cultural bias or you cannot even differentiate faces of people with a different racial background…let alone pronounce their names correctly.

It’s all good and well to prioritize family over work but who says you cannot have family while you are on an international assignment. Who says you cannot bring your husband to Bangladesh if you are a successful career woman? I know a gay couple who moved to India and a father of four who worked in Thailand and I’ve spoken to Western career women who worked successfully in Abu Dhabi. It’s all possible with the right attitude, global competency and the right package. It also works when you have an international assignment business case with a repatriation plan.

This is where we might find the real issue. A lot of companies have decided that Gen Y “needs talent development”. So they have sent the young talents abroad without a real business case. Obviously then your experience might be flawed. When I was sent to India almost ten years ago it was an eye-opener for me and I worked really hard. We had a staff shortage and we needed to pull ourselves together in order to build a BPO from scratch. I learnt a ton about Indian culture and even more about myself in stressful projects. Maybe it is worthwhile checking what your assignment business case really is.

While we currently have a tendency of cultural regionalism we should not forget that the market growth is not happening in Switzerland and Germany but for example in Turkey, Malaysia, China and India or in the countries that had wars for the last decades such as Iraq. If you want to be successful you might not even have a choice other than moving around for your career.

Please share your view on moving to other countries on international assignments (no matter which generation you belong to).

 

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