Sunday, June 28, 2009

Expat jobs (f)or "Globally Experienced Returned Natives"?

Earlier this week, a close pal of mine pointed out to a report that mentioned the highest paid expats prefer to live in Asia! Off the cuff, it was surprising. But as one dwelled over the cost of living, it wasn't too difficult to understand that the comment was made more-in terms of the higher savings potential visavis the Western world.
However, since global hiring opportunities are close to my heart, I tried getting to the source of the above- the HSBC Bank International Expat Explorer Surveys of 2009 and the earlier one in 2008. Well, they examine the financial circumstances of expats and compare the experiences of people living in different countries.The downturn has meant that some people are even considering giving up their expat status and returning to their country of origin primarily due to limited career prospects (28%),reduced value for money (19%)
'reduction of lifestyle(16%) apart from reduced length of contract (15%).
Reflecting on the major employment trends, especially in the last six months, I notice there could be some interesting lessons for us to learn from.
-Large multinational companies -known for fostering global talent-have recalled most of their senior executives in expat assignments, to give them plum roles back in the 'home country'. Simple logic. A great saving in each of the actions, as otherwise these executives were on expat salaries, with housing, education and other perks being multiplied as all were away on secondment!!
-Given that the expansion plans were on hold, and most companies have had to rightsize, there has been a rising tendency to protect the local 'sons of soil' in most countries. Hundreds of foreigners are returning from the Middle East daily-while the European Union has made it mandatory -and even USA is insisting on a certain reservation for its own citizens.
-Tacit acceptance that even among the range of expat jobs available among a large number of 'globally managed companies', there is a difference in the compensation depending on the nationality of the employee!
-Several companies have put their expat compensation under the scanner as allowances are undergoing a sea change since India is now seen as a land of opportunities...
In a world where 'orchestrated networking' is helping globalisation, will we see more decentralization- leading to changing organisation structure -say from the traditional pyramidical hierarchy to a more 'matrixed' one-that may not be as 'top heavy' as before? Do we see telecommuting and telepresence adding new dimensions?

Are we going to see a different mode of cross border hiring? Would there be a case for say hiring more 'returning Indians'- for CXO positions for MNCs in India-as they would leverage on their global experience and the Indian roots? Do we see some key roles -presently held by Western expats, being replaced with lesser cost Asian expats? I shall be glad to have your offline remarks as usual...


MCorusy said...

Mr Menon,

Protecting local 'sons of soil' makes sense for many practical reasons. I would be curious for your perspective on the opportunities today for foreigners looking to break into the rapidly-expanding, Indian telecom market, given this underlying trend.

Thank you very much for your input.

Mark Corusy
[email protected]

AK Menon said...

Mr Corusy

Thank you for reaching out. You will perhaps agree that the Indian telecom market is among the fastest growing in the world today.

Even in terms of sheer size, it is among the largest markets-and very surprisingly, all of this has perhaps happened in the last decade.It is also unique that it has leapfrogged several technologies in the process.Needless to say, it would not have been possible without the expertise of topnotch expats who dirtied their hands in India!!

I would like to believe there is a lot of potential for technical professionals in wifi, wimax, microwave domains.

Coming to the demand generation side,it is anybody's guess about the opportunities that mobile commerce would dwarf the present way commerce is being done. Already the number of mobile users in India is several multiples of those using computers. Surely it couldnt have happened without the brilliance of some marketing gurus.

My take is that the Indian Telecom market is looking for the best talent-period. Expats or otherwise, anyone who can help keep the company ahead in the game!!

Achyut Menon said...

Here is an interesting document!

Ernst & Young have recently come out with a booklet that provides a summary of regulations, which may be of interest to expatriates coming to work in India

The fact sheets in "Working in India", have been designed to help expatriates understand India's tax and applicable regulatory provisions. Although this document provides a summary of issues, which may be of interest to expatriates coming to work in India, the information provided here should not be considered as a substitute for professional advice.

On their arrival in India, the expatriates should seek professional guidance on tax implications, compliances and other relevant issues relating to the Indian assignment.

Please visit