Three Valuable Lessons I Learned in my Global Assignment

woman globeIt has been several years since our expat assignment in Belgium but the experience remains fresh in my mind. The two years we spent in Belgium strengthened not only my career and understanding of global business but also my family’s bond.  The experience enriched our lives. Being an Asian American female executive in Europe sent by an American company holding the top job was not common those days.  I was not the typical expat, therefore I was not stereotyped and eventually, I think my uniqueness worked to my advantage.

 

  1. I learned what it takes to work closely and intensely with people from different countries. I learned to accept and appreciate differences including my own uniqueness. I learned that No did not necessarily mean No and Yes did not mean Yes.  I learned to probe further to understand others. I learned to flex my style to be effective.
  2. Since time was limited and we knew this experience would not last, we made instant friends.  We valued our new friends and chose which ones were going to remain our friends even when we moved back home.
  3. I learned a lot about myself. My executive coach was invaluable to me.  At our very first meeting he said since I am Filipino American, I am viewed as an Asian in Europe even if I came from the US.   They expected me to demonstrate typical Asian norms, because this what they know.  I realized how much I’ve forgotten or abandoned being Asian having lived in the US for most of my career years. I took a journey back to who I really am. It was quite an experience to have the freedom to be me again and get in touch with my “Filipina-ness”.

I will never forget my coach, Robert Brown, who helped me navigate through several difficult situations. He became an ally to me, a trusted advisor, mentor and friend.  He introduced me to a new business network who helped me understand local business better. He genuinely cared for my success and became a close family friend.  Sadly, Robert passed away a few years ago.  His influence on my life, career and our family was invaluable and we are forever grateful.

If you are in an expat assignment today or working outside your home country, you may be experiencing a range of emotions – from excitement to frustration.  From loneliness – missing your friends and family , to enjoying meeting new people and discovering new sights and experiences.  How are you viewed by your local colleagues?  What impact does your presence have on them?  How can you make the most of your expat assignment?

 

Join us at The Conference Board, Global HR Academy on June 9-12 and learn more about what it takes to be successful in a global role.  To read more about the Academy, click here http://www.conference-board.org/globalhrleadersacademy/.

 

To apply and receive special pricing, contact Fana Tekle at fana.tekle@conferenceboard.org or call her at 212-339-0210.

 

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