International Management Tips

by Kevan Hall, CEO, Global Integration

It’s good to be back from holiday! Actually it is not, I am trying to sound positive, but I think I have a huge natural talent for relaxation – anyone want to sponsor me?

Sitting around the pool in Penang I came across several expatriates who work in large organizations.

Talking to them reminded my of a great piece of advice I got from a French HR Director of a multinational oil exploration company. I was working on a project for my company on how to develop international managers and I thought I would start by asking companies who had been doing it for years. I asked the HR Director what was the “secret”?

He told me “No secret, there are just two simple steps.

  1. First you recruit people around the world in proportion to your business, if 10% of your business is in Nigeria, 10% of your managers should be Nigerian
  2. You mix them up, if they never leave their homes they never become international managers, send them on visits, expatriate assignment, put them in international teams and projects so they mix with their colleagues and learn.”

“What next” I asked

“Nothing” he replied “If you do these two things, in no more than 50 years you will have an international management group.”

It as still one of the best answers I ever got to my question – though my boss was not happy when I told him it could take 50 years!

It takes time to develop a truly global mindset and management capability and, for companies relatively new to working internationally, it can be a whole management generation before people with this capability work their way through to the top of the organization in sufficient numbers to really make a difference.

I think we can accelerate the process with the right international management training and exposure to international experiences – but a lot of management training continues to carry a very mono-cultural view of the world (usually Anglo-Saxon management theories).

How does your company help you develop as an international manager?

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