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...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Different strokes for similar stimuli!

Yesterday was just like another day for me, a recruiter. But interestingly, the perspective was a lot different...

Just as any other day. among the persons I interacted-by mail, by phone, skype, and in person were professionals from different walks of life. A couple of software professionals who were now drawn into the Satyam Virtual pool, an aspiring returning Indian quite naturally weighing professional growth and personal instincts, an associate of a premier search firm wanting to explore the next move, and senior executive's (of a large international recruiter network) account of 'whats goin' around the world in the job market'....

Times are changing! Lifetime loyalty. Back in our parents time, then the career deal was 'cradle-to-grave employment'. Employers offered you a career structure and they virtually guaranteed you a job for life. Today employers put 'nonbillable' resources in a virtual pool-and pay you a subsistence allowance as an assurance. The onus of career management is now on the employee!!

During the boom in the past decade, personal life was put on hold while company life took over. Longer jobs, more stressful jobs, but all in a good cause, right? Money, promotion up the career ladder? Now things are different. Instead of promotion appears redundancy. More are being drained of creative energy and dissatisfied with their lives.

Changing times need changing responses, no?

The Satyamite is willing to work part time -even as a faculty in a lowly computer institute to keep his skills honed till the market picks up! Or take a drop in salary and move into an operational role in a non-IT company. The returning Indian-knocking at the glass ceiling in the American environment is willing to give up an 'all paid expat salary' for a task he can do on autopilot-and instead weave his way through an emerging domain of 'infrastructure management' and find solutions for the coming morrows. ( "Surely if an aeroplane can be built in 22 days, setting up a datacentre should take much lesser time,no? All we need to do is automating some processes"!?)

The 'search' expert is exploring taking a business role in the next few years to add value before getting back into the consultancy mode. Across the world, some of my NPA partners, after working 3 times harder than earlier -and found the results worse in Q1, have reconciled to 'just chilling' and 'taking a vacation' -to notice that it has improved their creative juices and quality of output-and a much more profitable Q2 :-)!!

But what took the cake was the presentation at the Hyderabad Management Association -a lecture on Personal Branding by Prabir Jha, the global HR head of a billion dollar company! Waxing eloquent on the power of brands, it would have been difficult to fathom that he wasn't a marketing guru as much as a 'HR practitioner'!! The outstanding takeaway to me- ' Instead of a career ladder, think of a career "chess board".

More than any other time, I think the following extract conveys it all :
"To move forward in chess, you sometimes have to move sideways, or even move back. The same could be now true of your career. You need to take a wider view of your career path. Examine your overall career strategy.
You are not happy in your job? You can't see a career future? Or do you feel anxious about your company's ability to provide you with the opportunities you need? If so, try to think laterally. The solution to your worries could be to step sideways into a related job in another industry, or even move a step back to a lower position in a totally different area of work. Once there, you can begin to move forward again.
Use this "chess board strategy" to create yourself a personal career path that matches exactly with your plans and dreams, with your values and with your life's passions. You become your own manager. You manage yourself. You manage your career as you manage a business. Think of yourself as a business asset. How do you make the most of your assets: your skills, imagination, creative talents, knowledge?"

No, he wasn't just spouting a fancy theory. Prabir for one has actually been living it. Beginning his career in the prestigious Indian Civil Services for a decade, and then for two years (a la drill movement in the armed forces called Kadam tal’/ marching on the spot without moving forward) pursuing a premier institute MBA along with batchmates a generation younger, before making the entry into the corporate world from square one!!

Well, today is another day ...

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Spreading the cheer

It has perhaps been the single most overwhelming emotion in the recent fortnight!!
And why not?? Going by a recent survey -(source: latest global Manpower Employment Outlook Survey), India Inc to hire most globally- India is the most optimistic nation in the world, with 19 per cent of the employers anticipating positive hiring activity in the third quarter. Public administration and the education sector are the ones to watch, while finance, insurance and real estate sector employers report the least optimistic hiring intentions.
Well, here is another input from a global survey!!Recruiter Confidence Climbs To Highest Level Since June 2008 (Source: )
Confidence in the Executive Employment Market Over Next Six Months

Well, can we just depend on a recruiter's perspective? After all, we do have a ringside perspective of all the action??
In my opinion, it is indeed a catch 22 situation. Job enquiries are trickling in -and companies are beginning to follow up to seek the progress-after almost 2 quarters. But the candidates are still hesitant- to take the bold step and wait for a compelling reason to move. Guess the candidate confidence is still being influenced by the media-and there is indeed a time lag for things to percolate!

In that sense I would also like to agree with an American NPA associate of mine Gary Eastwood of Beck/Eastwood Recruiting Solutions-who has had more than 3 decades of experience in the industry and seen it all!!
"Good news may travel fast, but often it’s swallowed up by all the bad news surrounding it. Traditional news media sell on fear, so it’s only natural that bad news outstrips the good in any medium. Economic cycles are called cycles for a simple reason. There are low ebbs followed by highs. Just as news of market collapses become self fulfilling, so can news of the evidence that we’re beginning to rebound."
And his mantra for companies still standing on the 'brake pedal' :
"Hiring freezes and layoffs make more work for your already overworked staff, enhance errors and waste, again becoming part of the burgeoning snowball of national unemployment, causing a longer Recession. Holding off on ‘Key Man’ hires, in particular, is simply the wrong choice. A quick SWOT analysis of any one role in the company can tell a Talent Acquisition team whether adding one person (even at the executive level) would actually save money, or raise sales volumes / margins to the point where it costs the company more NOT to make the hire."
Well, here is more reasons why I feel that there is a fire behind the smoke one is beginning to see! Here are a bunch of openings, that we at Options -are presently working on-both directly as well as through requisitions received from our associates in ERA, NPA and elsewhere!! You may perhaps debate that some of those openings have been around for quite a while, but you can be assured that companies are now willing to make things happen..
You can see the intention to hire across industries, across levels and across locations! Should anyone be interested, other positions include
-Manager Commercial Planning for a leading airport project in India
-VP Business Development for an infrastructure company (Power, Highways)
-Group CFO for a 5000 crore company
-Regional Sales Managers- capital /industrial goods industry
I shall be glad to share any information required!!Do spread the cheer!!