Get Ahead By Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success
Extract from Get Ahead By Going Abroad: A Woman's Guide to Fast-Track Career Success
Fast-Tracking Your Career
Going overseas can fast-track your career and expand your personal horizons beyond your wildest dreams. If you love adventure, thrive on taking risks and operating outside your comfort zone, and are fed up with the inequality of the old boys' network, going global could be your ticket to the fast track.
As thousands of women (and men) know, working and living in another country can expand your professional options manifold. International experience differentiates you from your peers. Doors open for you because companies need professionals who can act locally while thinking globally.
Women in the know are on to this trend. More and more women are being asked to take on international dimensions in their existing jobs or are considering new jobs with more global dimensions-often at much earlier stages in their careers than in the past. International roles, once offered primarily to men, are now increasingly being offered to women. There are many reasons, but the most groundbreaking is the growing acceptance that a woman's natural style-her feminine traits-can actually lead to greater success in cross-cultural situations. A woman's style endows her with an awareness of and ability to adapt to others' styles. It enables her to build teams in a nonthreatening "we're all in this together" fashion. As women we tend to overcommunicate, which can actually be good in situations that are ambiguous and with people who are different from us. We persist diplomatically in difficult circumstances and are not afraid to use the right mix of emotional intelligence, intellectual might, and feminine intuition.
Companies are acknowledging this new fact of business by sending more women abroad than ever before. Don't misunderstand us; those gender stereotypes that have limited a woman's ability to be considered for an overseas assignment still exist. But they are slowly but surely diminishing as more women succeed in international assignments from Bangkok to Buenos Aires, São Paulo to Stockholm, Calcutta to Cairo. If you are looking for a ticket out of middle management, join our new band of leaders: women we call the new globetrotters because of the successful international experiences they have under their belts (and in their pocketbooks).
Making It Real: Let the Adventure Begin
Throughout this book you'll meet dozens of women who have catapulted their careers by going overseas. We surveyed more than two hundred women who have spent significant time overseas, either as expatriates or in headquarters-based roles with significant international responsibility. We designed the survey in consultation with a seasoned research expert. Invitations to participate were sent to approximately 100 female professionals who have worked overseas and then to hundreds more as referrals from those women to others they know. Although the women who replied were not a strictly random sample, their responses represent the views of a highly diverse population of women executives.
Six women, including the two coauthors, will lead you on a journey of exploration into the wonders of working around the world. Colorful stories from women who took up the challenge of working overseas will bring the international experience alive. Each story has its own lessons, and the experiences are particularly instructive when seen up close. As you get to know us, we hope you'll enjoy our stories and feel that you've learned from them - and maybe find that you have a few things in common with us. We will share our secrets and strategies, such as how to use your feminine style to your advantage, how to be market savvy and assignment wise, and how to make a successful return. We want you to feel prepared to take off on your own international adventure, to leapfrog the competition, and to take heart through the inevitable challenges. There are a growing number of professional women with whom you can build bonds based on shared experiences. You will become part of an international network of like-minded "global girls" who have had their passports to success stamped time and time again. So, let's introduce you to some of these inspiring women.
• Anna Catalano, fluent in Mandarin, moved as a senior manager from Chicago to Beijing with a husband and two small children for two years while establishing Amoco's downstream office and exploring her Chinese roots. She later spent another five years abroad, this time in London as group vice president of global marketing for BP, and was recognized in Fortune's 2001 "Most Powerful Women in International Business" before making the decision to walk away from it all in 2003 and spend time with her extended family in Texas. She now serves as an independent director on several public boards.
• Diane Gulyas, a chemical engineer with a passion for customers, had ten years of experience when she went over two bosses' heads to request a position overseas in Geneva, Switzerland. She and her husband lived there for two and a half years and then transferred to Belgium, where she supervised a manufacturing plant for another year and a half before returning home to Wilmington, Delaware, to work directly with DuPont's CEO. Recognized in Fortune's 2006 "50 Most Powerful Women," she now manages an international staff of seventy-five hundred and a multibillion-dollar division of DuPont, one of the world's largest chemical companies.
• Jacqualyn "Jackie" Fouse, fluent in French and with a good working knowledge of Spanish, German, and Italian, knew in her teenage years that she wanted to live and work internationally. Offered an opportunity to work for Alcon Laboratories in the headquarters of its parent company, Nestlé, in Vevey, Switzerland, she left Ft. Worth, Texas, as a solid middle manager in finance. For the next eight years, she worked for Nestlé and gained broad, significant business and financial experience until she was courted by Swissair Group's CEO to join as its chief financial officer (CFO) and for one year helped manage the company through its bankruptcy. She returned home to Ft. Worth as senior vice president and CFO of Alcon Laboratories, a $5 billion division of Nestlé. She was awarded "Financial Executive of the Year" in 2005 by the Institute of Management Accountants and Robert Half International.
• Patricia Kranz studied Russian history and became proficient in the language before moving from Washington, D.C., to Moscow with no job but a strong gut feeling it was the place to be in the 1990s for a journalist. Her instincts proved correct, as she broke many stories, including eight cover stories about some of the most important events of the decade: the collapse of the Soviet Union and the building of post-Communist Russia. She spent a total of seven years in Russia and then, upon her return to New York, managed reporters in six European countries and then served as national news editor at BusinessWeek, before accepting her current role as deputy editor, Sunday Business Section, New York Times.
• Perry Yeatman, young, single, and a junior executive, left Baltimore, Maryland, for Singapore, where she began her expansive ten-year international career, moving up quickly in responsibility, title, and remuneration as she hopscotched from Singapore to Moscow and then to London. She parlayed her global contacts into a senior job with Unilever in Greenwich, Connecticut, where she worked for nearly four years. After a brief time-out to spend time with her new husband and daughter, she took a senior position at Kraft Foods, Inc., in Chicago. She now serves as senior vice president for international corporate affairs and global issues management. She is one of Kraft's top fifty executives and is responsible for corporate affairs in more than one hundred countries. She is a published author.
• Stacie Nevadomski Berdan, who grew up traveling and wanted the added thrill of working in multiple cultures, moved from Burson-Marsteller's Washington, D.C., office to Hong Kong the day after her wedding. She spent three intense years in Asia at a critical juncture in her midlevel career and transitioned into a senior global position upon her return to Washington, D.C., jumping from vice president to global account managing director in just a few years. At the age of thirty-four, she was named a partner in WPP, Burson-Marsteller's parent company, and ranked in the top 1 percent of the largest marketing and communications conglomerate in the world. Searching for a more balanced life, she turned her substantial achievements in the fast-paced corporate world into a successful career as writer, speaker, and consultant. She is a mother of two and a published author of business literature.
These women have experience across industries. They have worked in a variety of countries in various roles for differing time periods, and they went abroad at different stages in their personal lives. Their combined experience should encourage you. Their successes should instill you with a "can-do" attitude to start preparing for your own adventure. Come along with us as we retrace their footsteps so that you, too, can reap the personal and professional rewards that come from working internationally.