Questions and Answers with Career Expert C. Perry Yeatman
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C. Perry Yeatman is co-author of Get Ahead by Going Abroad: A Woman’s Guide to Fast-Track Career Success.
[Editor’s Note: read our review of Yeatman’s book.]
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Why is it so important these days for someone with management ambitions to gain international experience?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||The largest companies in the world today are mostly multi-national corporations. They operate in many markets around the globe. The heads of those companies have usually had some international experience, whether it is an international job based in their home market or an overseas assignment. For anyone aspiring to reach the upper ranks of one of these companies, developing a global perspective will be critical. Even if someone has ambitions to lead a smaller organization, given the global nature of supply chains these days, that organization will very likely get supplies from or have customers in markets outside their own. So, regardless of your industry, if you want to get ahead, you are probably going to have to learn to compete and win in markets around the world. The best way to do that is by working overseas.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What are the hardest aspects of working abroad? And what’s your advice for dealing with them?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||Of course it depends on the particular assignment and the employee’s personal situation but my experience suggests that succeeding in the job is often easier than successfully building a full life in your new home country. Dating, dining, shopping, all the little things we take for granted at home are quite different when you live abroad. Learning at work is something all successful people get used to and indeed enjoy. But when there is no off button, when you constantly have to learn new things — even when you feel too tired to — that’s when it gets tough. My advice for dealing with all the “living” aspects of working abroad is first and foremost to recognize that they matter. You can’t do your job well if you aren’t in good shape personally. You have to take care of yourself. What exactly that means will be different for each individual. But know what it is for you and prioritize it. Take the time and make the effort to do it. You won’t regret it. And, if you are married or have children, your family will appreciate that you are taking time for something other than work as well!|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||How does one go about obtaining an international work experience?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||There are many ways you can go about landing a job overseas. The best is often to explore options with your current employer. Let the organization know you want to work overseas. Show that you are serious and committed to the idea and make your employer believe it is worth the investment to send you and that you are likely to succeed living in another country. If your current employer offers no possible opportunity for an overseas assignment, then you’ll need to look elsewhere. The key is to understand what unique value you can offer a potential employer in a foreign market and how can you help minimize the organization’s risks at hiring you for an overseas posting. Regardless of your type of work, networking and research are probably going to be key to landing that first overseas job.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||What’s the best way to uncover job leads — or do you advise multiple methods? What’s the best combination of methods and what percentage of a job-seeker’s time should be spent on each?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||The best time to job hunt is, as you’ve no doubt heard before, while you still have a job. The best way to job hunt is first and foremost to do a great job in the position you are in. In addition to this, I recommend doing a combination of things, most notably networking, which you should do inside your current employer and among external groups that are relevant to the market and the field you are interested in. Network among headhunters, as well, since most of the senior openings these days seem to be filled either through networking with peers from other companies or via headhunters. You should also market yourself through speaking engagements, conferences, articles, interviews, etc. You’re more likely to get a job if you are a “known” entity in your field or industry. What I don’t recommend is just to keep pursuing jobs via the Internet and not getting out there in person. You can look online, but you also need to network, go on interviews, meet with headhunters, and talk with peers you trust at other companies. And, don’t just do these activities once you know you must find another job, try to do them all the time. If you do, I bet you’ll never really have to “look” for that next great opportunity again.|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>Q:||Do you have any tips on how women can balance work and family obligations? Are employers becoming more family-friendly?|
|ica” color=”black” size=”+4″>A:||I firmly believe that women can have it all. We just can’t have it all at the same time — and stay sane that is. So, I advise women to keep that in mind when trying to balance career and family choices. Try to time your moves and build your career based on where you are in your life. If you have kids at a young age, when you are just starting your career, that’s fine. Focus on them, and then go about throwing yourself wholeheartedly into your work. Or, do the reverse. Build your career and your reputation first and then have children. It can work either way. The most important thing is to know what you want at different times in your life and to seek out opportunities that align with that. When I joined Kraft two-and-a-half years ago, a large part of the attraction was that I wanted a global job and a 15-minute commute since I had an 18-month-old at the time, and I wasn’t prepared to give her up — which is in effect what a 2-hour daily commute into New York would’ve entailed. If you are clear about what you want and upfront with your employer, you have a much better chance of finding a job that meets your needs and your employer’s needs. And whenever you are aligned with your employer, you have a much better chance of succeeding. Nothing builds a career like success after success — even if you are moving sideways or even backwards for a bit sometimes to make it work with your life. The best companies today get this and are usually willing to work with good employees to accommodate their needs.|
C. Perry Yeatman is a senior vice president at Kraft Foods, responsible for international corporate affairs and global issues management. She is also Kraft’s global head of issues management. From 1990-2000, Perry lived and worked overseas — based first in Singapore, then Russia and finally the UK. In her various roles, she has served not only as a senior corporate affairs counselor, but also as a general manager. Outside of work, Perry currently serves on the National Board of the Girl Scouts of the USA. She also recently published her first book on women in international business, Get Ahead by Going Abroad, now available at book stores nationwide. [Learn more at the book’s Website.] Perry resides in Wilmette, IL, with her husband and daughter.
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