Friday, 30 September 2011

Comparison of FEM Web Site and the art of the expat Blog

You can use information on the Forum for Expatriate Management web site and my blog to create your international assignment policies and practices.

  • The Forum for Expatriate Management provides global compliance information on immigration, taxation, and companies providing services to expats.
  • The art of the expat blog helps you understand the thoughts and feelings of people on an international assignment.

The table below compares the information available.

The art of the expat
Industry Coverage
Emotional Entrepreneur
Political Motivation
Wealth Management
Corp. Inter. Process
Market-based Value
Strategic Analysis
Primary Source

    Couch Surfing

    International assignments can be isolating; couch surfing is a new way to share your life. You register online and Couch Surfing verifies your home address by sending you mail. You can then start to share your couch. People ask you if your couch is free and you invite the people you like to join you for coffee or to stay overnight.

    What Need Does This Service Fill?

    When you meet people online there is no geographic limitation. Do you really need to invite a stranger into your home to build a community when you can build a community of like-minded people from around the world sitting at your computer?

    Is It Just Strange?

    In your home country you have friends and family, but when you move abroad you need to make new friends. Couch surfing may be a way to build a life with people who appreciate your wanderlust.

    If you use your couch to include others, then you might feel more at home in your host country. Maybe you don't realise how much more you know than a visitor.

    Wednesday, 28 September 2011

    Measuring Leadership Legacies

    HR departments need to measure the long-term impact of an international assignment. Positioning your company to operate in China and take advantage of the changing economy could take decades. Long-term data should be collected and used to calculate ROI.
    A system of measurement?

    What Value Is Created?

    Here are some questions that you can use to understand the value an international assignment is creating:
    • How did the person’s job position the company to do business in the market?
    • How much was the government contract we won because of networking?
    • What is the value of the market opened by establishing an operation in the host country?

    What Are Other Companies Doing?

    Some companies measure international assignments by assigning a weighting to feedback (40% to the feedback from your line manager, 40% from your home country manager, and 20% from HR).

    When you design your ROI tool, you should: 
    • Get input from the person who is on the international assignment and weight it equally with the other feedback.
    • Measure the strategic goals of an international assignment (use strategic tools to link strategies and tactics).
    • Capture short-term and long-term data and compare the ROI over time.

    What Costs Should I Measure?

    This paper gives you the elements of an international assignment that will create costs. When choosing a company to work with to build your ROI tool, ensure that you choose a strategic international human resource management company and not a relocation company.

    Relocation companies can provide cost analysis, but they don’t do strategic planning and don’t have the skills to link strategy and practice through measurement and analysis of the value created in an international assignment. You should link with a company, like doshebu, which provides strategic globalisation services.

    Wednesday, 21 September 2011

    Culture Shock Through an Emotional Lens

    Diversity creates difference
    Margarita Gokin Silver talks about how to use emotional lens to describe responding to another culture. Her cultural coaching focuses on understand how you feel and why not to use the step-by-step approach of stages to manage your emotional journey.

    Listen to Margarita talk about her cultural tools on Expat Radio.

    Here’s my culture lens based on Margarita’s cultural-lens tool.

    Emotional Reaction
    Expat Journey
    I find that I like to cook and I like city life. When I move to a new place I instantly try to find the best place to eat and the coolest bar to hang out in. It’s a fun and exciting time that makes me feel that I am part of the new culture and that it embraces me back.  
    My personal frustration is civil and political isolation. I think that if I was at home and this was a problem I would be able to work for change. In another country I don’t have an outlet for this side of my personality.
    I find that dealing with being an outsider, when I don’t feel like one, is doable -- but not nice. I’ve become more capable of deflecting, coping, and sometimes changing this situation.
    Most of this comes once everything you do isn’t new -- once you can get a bus or take a car, choose somewhere to eat close to home or the office. Once you know the city and the culture you can enjoy your life more.
    When I returned to the UK from an expat experience, I did experience longing for the city I had left and I also experienced longing for my home town.   

    Thursday, 15 September 2011

    Meow… “Get me out of here!”

    Enjoying a nap in the sun
    She was behind the cargo counter when we arrived to collect her at the airport. The US doesn’t have quarantine so our cat was able to come straight in.

    We couldn’t see her, but as soon as she heard us talking she started yelling. And she didn’t stop until we got to our apartment.

    When we spoke to the people at PetAir UK they said that it isn’t unusual for pets to sulk, but at the apartment she came out and started to explore. She was still yelling, but more of an approving sound than the jail-bust yell she used earlier.


    • Use a pet carrier. They'll provide a pet container and they do all the paperwork and vet checks for you.
    • Don’t feel guilty; your pet is ok.
    • Find different types of food for them. Pet food tastes different. Your pet has preferences.
    • Set up a place for them in your new home so that when they arrive they can own their space and feel at home.

    Sunday, 11 September 2011


    9/11 Exhibition at Columbus Circle (NY)
    I remember that day. My husband and I returned from Hong Kong the day before and I got up to go to work as usual. When I got there no-one was at their desk. The first plane had hit the north tower on my way from the elevator to my desk.

    I remember phoning my mom. I left a message, “You are going to see something on the news later. I’m ok.”

    I went to the break room. What is going on?

    When you go on an international assignment you need to prepare for conflict.

    What Should You Do?

    • Call as soon as you sense something. The communication networks will be cut in the country that you are in if there is a terrorist attack.
    • Make sure your family knows your location. Are you close to the conflict zone? They will be concerned.
    • Buy a torch/flashlight and some batteries to make sure you can get around your apartment in the dark.
    • Have a radio at hand. They will be broadcasting.
    • Know where your embassy is in case you need to be evacuated.
    • Before you go, review your will to ensure that it us up-to-date.

    Thursday, 8 September 2011

    Single, Highly Educated, Looking For...

    The cost of international schools is becoming a deal breaker for families and the companies that send them on international assignments. International schools in Hong Kong have debentures of up to HK$10 million, with parents adding their kids to waiting lists as soon as they are born.

    If companies start to choose single people for international assignments instead of families what will corporate offices look like, Club 18-30 or singles clubs for the divorced?

    The Daily Show spoofs their location
    Club 18-30

    If you go an international assignment are you really looking for love? Will people start to choose places to go based on how good looking and how young the population is? Everyone wants to go to India where the majority of the population is under 30, but no-one wants to go Germany, or the US, where the populations are aging and the birth rate is declining.

    Singles Club

    Your corporate office becomes the new version of the French Foreign Legion. The people have gone through bad divorces and have anger related issues. They are choosing to escape instead of talking to their therapist about their feelings.