The Blog for Culture Vultures

Satiate your inner Culture Vulture with regular news and posts about cultural awareness, doing business abroad, working in a multicultural environment, HR diversity and global mobility.

Review: Yanks in Blighty

Donna Marsh is a business woman and cultural awareness trainer specialising in many fields. Over her 30 year professional career she has visited more than 140 countries. As a strue globe-trotter this has given her a great insight into the field of intercultural communication, awareness and skills.

Now this experience has translated itself into a new publication entitled "Yanks in Blighty". As the title suggests the book is aimed at Americans moving, working or living in the UK who are looking for a better understanding of their new environment and the natives.

Review:

Having readthe book we are pleased to offer a glowing review and thoroughly recommend it to our readers. The one major factor that sticks out in the book is how much ground is covered in terms of topics. Donna leaves no stones unturned in her examination of what the UK is, where it is and how it is. We are given quick, informative facts on subjects such as the present situation the country is in, the Royal Family, government, the cultural diversity of the population, language, transport, housing, health care and of course the weather. In short this book contains probably everything anyone would ever need when moving to the country.

As well as the fantastic details, the book also offers the reader answers to questions they were probably thinking but most authors never thought to answer. Although it may sound trivial, knowing how a washing machine works, how the rubbish (or should I say trash?) is collected and when the sales start are all little things people really do need to know.

The book wins in a lot of ways due to its focus. As it is targetted at Americans specifically wanting to understand the UK it allows the author the luxury on concentrating on what they want to know and specific areas of concern for Americans (rather than some other nationality).

Excerpt:

"As a rule, the British are likely to overlook or at least keep silent about most social behaviour that they do not approve of. Queue jumping a notable exception."

Where to buy?

You can buy the book by clicking the link below to Amazon or at any decent online bookstore. The ISBN is 978-1-906710-37-8.


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Fewer expats sent abroad

Fewer expats sent abroad



According to the findings of a survey of 180 managers by London-based consultants Brookfield, more than two thirds of the major multinationals are expecting to post fewer employees abroad this year.

Nannette Ritmeester of the Dutch consultancy Expertise in Labour Mobility recognises the picture. She sees two possible responses to the crisis: either send fewer employees abroad, or economise on the facilities for expats, by cutting back on housing allowances or air tickets for trips back home.

However, spokespersons for Shell, Philips and Akzo Nobel are keen to stress that they won’t be skimping on perks for expats.

“They’re set down in the collective labour agreement – they’re agreed beforehand so you can’t change them,” says a Philips spokesperson.

Read more > Expats
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Cross Culture Kids

Cross Culture Kids



I recently attended the 11th annual Families in Global Transition (FIGT) conference – an idea which was first planned at a kitchen table in Indianapolis.

That kitchen table belonged to author and Cross-Culture Kid (CCK) expert, Ruth van Reken. The first conference attracted 80 delegates but this year's boasted over 200.

Almost half were first-timers, drawn from a mix of military, corporate, missionary, education and diplomatic backgrounds. Many were in the business of providing relocation services and support to transitioning families. Many were part of those families.

FIGT is always an uplifting experience and this year, though the conference was in Houston, Texas, it was testament to the global reach of the organisation that each of the plenary sessions included one person living in Europe. The three-day conference also offered more than 40 break-out sessions to choose from.

Child psychologist Doug Ota, who heads up a world-leading transitions programme at the American School of The Hague (ASH), opened the conference with a keynote speech focusing on how grief impacts on the lives of those who roam the globe.

"Grief is a messy, backward and forward process," he explained, as he shared his experience of growing up with a Japanese father and British-origin mother in California. He spoke of his loss of identity; the loss of his colleagues, friends, and even his brother, during the 16 years he has lived in the Netherlands with his Dutch wife.

Read more > Telegraph
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New Expat Website

New Expat Website
Allo' Expat Sdn Bhd, a Malaysia headquartered online publisher and most visited expatriate social portal worldwide (www.AlloExpat.com). Launched eight years ago, with now more than 40,000 visitors daily, AlloExpat.com is becoming the preferred online media for advertisers in the "expat industry" around the world.

AlloExpat.com is addressing a permanently increasing expatriate community worldwide. With communities throughout the five continents, over 170 users' nationalities, 145 countries covered, AlloExpat.com has not only become the leading expatriate one-stop information centre, but it also succeeds in becoming the meeting point between the expat communities audience and professional expatriate service providers in various fields such as relocation services, real-estate, insurance and financial planning, leisure, lifestyle, etc...

Through an efficient and very affordable online advertising space offer and a number of dedicated advertisement packages under its "Expat Best" recommended section, AlloExpat.com provides its advertisers with the right expatriate exposure. Advertisers can also direct their ad campaign nationally, regionally and even globally under one unique website.

"Targeting a permanently moving customer target is a challenge by itself. Expat families and individuals are very hard to spot and understand for most media specialists, mostly due to the diversity of the expatriate audience itself: Where are they? What is their favourite hangout, magazine, spending habits? Furthermore, at the difference of the usual more expensive expatriate's printing media, AlloExpat.com enables advertisers to interact directly with their audience and get the necessary instant feedback and market feel they really need. With the growing numbers of AlloExpat.com advertisers and the everyday feedback we receive from all of them we are able to continuously develop and improve our advertising platform to serve them better," said co-founder and Public Relations Director Theresa Giovagnoli.

Read more > Press Release
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Expat life getting harder

Expat life getting harder


With fluctuating exchange rates and companies less willing to keep expats on their payroll, the economic landscape for expats is changing drastically.

Expatriates have always been known for their ability to adapt to new cultures and contexts but the current financial crisis may prove to be the biggest challenge yet for internationals.

The economic landscape across the globe is changing by the day and it is still unclear how that will affect the world and workplace – and the place of expats within it.

Two things are already clearly impacted, though: the costs borne by expatriates in many European cities and overseas assignments by multinational corporations.

A recent survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), for instance, showed that while weakening exchange rates have substantially lowered the relative cost of living in Western Europe for expatriates, it remains the most expensive area of the world to live in. Western Europe boasts seven of the top 10 most expensive cities across the globe and all but two of the Western European cities surveyed are in the top 50, according to the report.

However, those living in Western Europe can take heart in the fact that the relative cost of living in the region is dropping – due, in large part, to drastic declines in European currencies such as the sterling, the euro and the Norwegian krone.

Read more > Expatica
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Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’

Documentary Series on ‘Reverse Migration’


Does the country of your parents’ or grandparents’ birth fascinate you? Would you consider moving there for a better standard of living?

Britain may once have seemed like the land of opportunity, but now, with the downturn in the economy, thousands of British born people are leaving for the promise of a better life where their families came from originally – in countries like India, Africa, China, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.

In Bangalore alone, the southern Indian IT city, more than 40,000 Indian IT professionals are estimated to have arrived back from the US and UK to take up work. There are exciting career and business opportunities for people with western education and experience, and there is a growing trend of ‘Reverse Migration’ to many countries from the UK.

Ricochet, the makers of Channel 4's 'No Going Back' and “Super Nanny” are producing a new TV series that follows this trend for a new documentary series.

Four 2nd or 3rd generation British families will be given the opportunity to 'road test' a new life in the country of their parents or grandparents for several months, to find out about jobs, schools and housing. They might like it so much; they decide they want to stay.

If you and your family are thinking about making such a move, or have always wanted to find out what life would be like where your parents or grandparents come from; then please contact us on the following:

Call: 01273 224 816
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Web: www.Ricochet.co.uk

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Working abroad improves your skills

Working abroad improves your skills



In his  14-year career as an industrial and electrical engineer, Carlos Founaud has worked or done business in Austria, Switzerland, Ireland, Portugal, Germany, Britain, Australia, and Italy before returning to his native Spain.

“I called myself a multicultural interface,” he laughs. “If something broke down, the Spanish way was to focus on the problem—let’s have a look, make a decision, and do it. The Austrian way was to find out who’s guilty. The British way was to open the manuals and find the different procedures for fixing it—and afterward go to the pub.”

Founaud has found that this multicultural approach to problem solving, while maddening at times, has also made him better at his job. Now general managing director of iA Soft Aragón, a Saragossa firm that develops public administration software, he seeks out foreign programmers specifically to challenge the procedural mind-set on his home turf.

Foreign postings often offer more autonomy and responsibility, a faster pace, higher pay, and tax breaks, as well as the adventure of foreign lands and languages. The posts can also improve your skills.

Read more > Skills
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Technology and Global Mobility

Technology and Global Mobility
Geeta Gwalani explores how the optimum use of technology can be achieved in the context of global mobility programs of organisations.

The use of information technology within human resource (HR) management has increased greatly during recent years, with most organisations now using technology to some extent in their management of HR.

Some believe that HR practitioners have become more focused on adding strategic value within an organisation and becoming a business partner to line managers. A number of authors have suggested that technology may be used within HR to facilitate this shift in the role of the HR function, including Edward Lawler and Susan Mohrman in their 2003 Human Resource Planning article, 'HR as a Strategic Partner: What Does it Take to Make it Happen,' and Samir Shrivastava and James Shaw in their 2003 Human Resource Management article, 'Liberating HR through Technology.' However, HR functions also have been under pressure to reduce costs and make efficiency savings, sometimes achieved by outsourcing parts of the function, but often through streamlining the transactional aspects of the work by means of call centres, self-service, and a greater use of new technology.

The use of technology within HR has increased rapidly during recent years, with 77 percent of organisations using some form of HRIS in 2005, according to a paper published by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Read more > Mobility
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HR challenge for Gulf States

HR challenge for Gulf States



Gulf oil producers have made substantial progress in economic development because of their massive crude resources but they will always remain reliant on foreign labour, a United Nations official said yesterday.

Adel Abdul Lateef, Director of Regional Programmes at the Regional UN Development Programme Office, said the six Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries still face the challenge of human resources development despite their remarkable economic achievements over the last 50 years.

One of the problems he cited was that GCC nationals still account for a low percentage of the workforce in most member states as they prefer the public sector in the absence of attractive incentives in the private sector.

"The GCC economies will always surpass the production capacity of the native population and this will make these economies permanently reliant on expatriate labour from all sides," he told a human resources conference in Abu Dhabi.

"The GCC's long-term strategies must take into account the rapid demographic consequences resulting from this steady development whether in terms of rights and duties for expatriates or the number of nationals and their contribution to all economic aspects and values."

Abdul Lateef said the large expatriate presence in the GCC has become a permanent phenomenon, which has "not only offset a sharp labour shortage during the oil boom but also largely contributed to the expansion of the GCC market in terms of commodities and services".

"There is no doubt this large foreign presence has become a controversial topic of discussion and has raised economic, political, cultural and strategic issues over the past period due to a steady increase in this presence."

Read more > Foreign Labour
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India turns away from expats to home-grown talent

India turns away from expats to home-grown talent



Expatriate executives, who were the flavour of the season when India was riding high on a 9%-plus growth rate, are now becoming the first ones to get the pink slip as Indian industry, hit by the slowdown, starts looking within the country for inexpensive hires.

“Many of the expatriate executives, who have been asked to leave, are subject experts. Their value diminishes in a downturn as companies are no more expanding, and thus don’t need people to guide in a new venture,” says K Sudarshan, MD of executive search firm EMA Partners’ India unit.

Since October 2008, there has been a spate of replacements of expat executives with Indian professionals at the senior level.

Read more > India
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Execs willing to work abroad in 2009

The majority of executives around the world indicated that they are willing to relocate internationally for job opportunities in today's tumultuous economy, according to Korn/Ferry's latest Executive Quiz. The Executive Quiz released by The Korn/Ferry Institute focused on perceptions about the labor market. The online survey was conducted in September and October, just as volatility in the financial markets elevated concerns surrounding unemployment around the world.


According to the survey findings, 85 percent of respondents said that they expect more job losses in the global labor market in 2009, and 78 percent expected unemployment to rise in Q4 2008.  Given the perceived volatility in the labor market, executives report an extreme willingness to chase job opportunities around the world; a surprising 84 percent of executives say they are willing to consider relocating, with 55 percent willing to move internationally for their next position.

"This is a very dynamic time in the global labor market, and while the overall demand for talent will certainly rise over time, job creation may be in different locations than today's talent pools are clustered,” said Sergio Averbach, President of Korn/Ferry International, South America.  In countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China the world's "fastest growing economies" it's not uncommon to see unemployment temporarily increase as labor supply and demand find a new equilibrium in such geographies and different industries."

The results showed a contradiction when respondents were asked about their own company's hiring plans. Nearly half “ 47 percent“ said their companies were hiring even in the current economic environment. Another 27 percent said their companies were in a hiring freeze. Only 26 percent stated that their company was currently downsizing.

Read more > Survey
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The burden of Expatriate life

The burden of Expatriate life



More and more workers have relocated abroad in recent years, but despite the growing numbers, family issues remain a major factor in the failure of overseas postings.

The initial excitement of an exotic new posting can turn to culture shock, loneliness, identity loss and depression, and it is often the employee's spouse and children — without the familiar routine of work — who are most affected.

"I thought it would be an adventure, and it was," said Francesca Kelly, an American who moved 10 times in the first nine years as a Foreign Service spouse, living in places like Belgrade and the former Soviet Union during the cold war. But it "was much more difficult than I ever imagined it would be."

Brenda Fender, director of global initiatives for Worldwide ERC, a not-for-profit association concerned with work force mobility, said a family's happiness was crucial. "If the family cannot adapt, the employee will likely not succeed," she said.

And not succeeding can be expensive.

Scott Sullivan, senior vice president at GMAC Global Relocation Services, told the story of a man from Cleveland with an important role in building a large manufacturing plant in rural China. He left the project midway through and returned home when his wife and child became desperately unhappy. This disrupted the project, a joint venture with a Chinese company, which then backed out — a loss for the American company of hundreds of millions of dollars, Sullivan said, and it could have been avoided with a better assessment before the man left home.

Read more >>> IHT
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Global Skills for an International Career

Global Skills for an International Career



As an international careers adviser, I receive questions daily from people of varied backgrounds who hope to try their luck in the global marketplace. Many job seekers mistakenly believe that they can’t begin an international career until their feet are on foreign soil. They overlook their own backyard for resources and training opportunities.

The Most Sought-After Skills

What do international employers really look for in employees and what skills will be needed by professionals to perform successfully in the global marketplace?

A study commissioned by the College Placement Council Foundation surveyed 32 international employers and colleges to determine what international employers seek in prospective employees. They identified the following areas of required knowledge and skills:

Domain knowledge

Colleges in the U.S. are presently preparing their graduates well in domain knowledge, or knowledge in one’s academic discipline, although employers expressed concern that increasingly greater demands and higher standards may soon result in inadequately prepared graduates.

The three most important skills were cognitive skills, social skills, and “personal traits.” Problem-solving ability, decision making, and knowing how to learn are highly prized generic skills. Social skills were described as the ability to work effectively in group settings, particularly with diverse populations. Personal traits mentioned frequently included flexibility, adaptability, and the capacity to be innovative. Employers often mentioned that colleges do not adequately address this type of skill development.

Cross-cultural competence

Students must make a concerted effort to acquire the knowledge, skills, and traits gained through cross-cultural interaction because we are more geographically and linguistically insulated than most other countries.

On-the-job training and prior work experience. Employers seek applicants who have been successful in applying their domain knowledge or academic studies and generic skills in the workplace. They say that colleges do not place sufficient emphasis on work experience.

Read more >> By Debra Peters-Behrens
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2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees

2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees


The number of employees on international assignments has doubled over the last three years as part of the continuing trends towards globalisation, forcing employers to rethink their benefits provision.

Mercer’s 2008/2009 Benefits Survey for Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees found that 47% of firms have increased deployment of staff on traditional expatriate assignments, and 38% had increased numbers of staff on 'nomadic' assignments.

It found that the growing expatriate culture has led 86% of respondents to consider their benefits package for expatriate staff as a medium or high business priority, with only 26% of organisations admitting to having no overarching policy for providing expatriate benefits.

Robert Lockley, principal in Mercer’s international business, said: “Establishing an international policy is essential to stay competitive, maintain geographical consistency and control costs. Even against a backdrop of economic uncertainty there is still competition for the best talent. Companies that are lax in this area will loose out.”

In terms of benefits on offer, the majority (68%) of companies surveyed keep their expatriates in host or home country retirement schemes. However, 32 percent of companies offer international retirement plans - an increase from 23 percent in 2005. Close to three-quarters (73 percent) of companies with an international plan restrict eligibility to certain expatriates who cannot be kept in the home or host plan.

Read more > Expatriates and Globally Mobile Employees
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Young Expats - what is being done?


Michele Bar-Pereg investigates ways in which global mobility professionals can assist this group in making their assignments successful.

Transferees on their first assignments abroad— especially young, single expatriates—often are unaware of some of the more challenging effects of life without a support network of friends, family, and colleagues.


I have discovered a general feeling among global mobility professionals that, back in the 1980s and even 1990s, ambitious executives clearly did not discuss or influence their career prospects by talking about the separation of work and personal life. It was a far more macho society, where ambition was all that seemed to matter. Today, most singles on the global mobility career path have a far more balanced view of the segregation of work and personal life.


Single transferees often assume that they have a trouble-free paradise in front of them. They not only have their youth, but they are on the first step of the career ladder—often without some of the physical and emotional baggage of their counterparts—and appear to be able to function without the network of home, family, and other social associations.


On the surface, it sometimes appears that it is relatively easy for young people to recognise country cultures and deal with life accordingly. Younger people seem to be able to capitalise on similarities without being too bothered by the differences. This is, of course, to the good; however, our younger transferees often are caught off-guard when cultural differences emerge and suddenly get in the way of doing business.

Read more > Expatica

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Zurich top city for expats

Zurich top city for expats
European cities offer the best quality of life for expatriate staff, according to a study of more than 200 locations.




The survey by Mercer, the international consultants, ranked the cities on the basis of personal safety, health and education facilities, transport, other public services, and social, economic, environmental and political factors.

The most attractive location for expatriate businesspeople was Zurich. The Swiss commercial centre, home of UBS, Swiss Re and Zurich financial services, scored 108 points under a ranking system that uses New York on 100 points as a base.

The US business centre, by comparison, was in 49th place, behind other US cities: Honolulu (28th), San Francisco (29th), Boston (37th) and Chicago and Washington?DC (equal 44th).Read more> Mercer 
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Corporate support for the Third Culture Kid (TCK)

The good news is that organisations can provide services that facilitate successful adjustments. The cost of sending an employee and family on international assignment is substantial. For a minimal additional investment, corporations can provide pre- and post-assignment cross-cultural development programmes that reduce the stress of the move and meet the family’s needs. Specifically, such programmes help the family to understand the leaving process, the new culture(s), how to conduct themselves (socially, in business, and in daily life) more effectively in the new location, and how to manage culture shock and adjustment.

Cross-cultural programmes offer knowledge and support to the third-culture child. Many relocation companies contribute to the family’s international success by offering packages and programmes to the new assignee and family.

It is up to employers to promote the value of this to employees and their families, and to encourage them to make time for the training in the hectic schedule of an overseas move.

The employer’s organisation needs to support all the family members through the adjustment phase, which can take up to 18 months. The follow-through and tracking after the move is very important. Counselling services, coaching, mentoring, and, ultimately, a repatriation programme are other valuable options for third-culture children and their families.

Read more > TCK 
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Expats in Spain filling job gaps

Ex-pats living in Spain are being recruited and trained to work as remote telemarketing staff for English businesses because there is a shortage of suitable candidates in the UK.

Call centre staffing company Sensée has hired 10 sun-soaked British workers as telesales agents for Sense On Hold (SOH), a UK-based company providing marketing to callers while they are waiting on hold. The agents will never meet their new bosses at SOH, as all elements of recruitment and training take place online.

The move reflects the growing number of employers using mobile workers for traditional, office-based jobs.

Read more> Expats 
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Expatriate cultural coaching improves performance

High Expectations

Most people believe that international assignments are easy and "first-time" expatriates always start off with an excited and optimistic attitude. On the receiving end in the host foreign company, the managers and other employees have high expectations for the newcomers who bring new skills and insights. Although most of these employees have never been on an international assignment, they usually expect an expatriate to immediately perform as valuable experts. They anticipate that these new arrivals will adjust, make decisions rapidly and maneuver across cultures with ease. Most simply expect the expat to get to work immediately and to perform better than others.

 

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Movies to help expats settle in Korea

Three Korean films and a cartoon have been translated for immigrant workers and foreigners married to Koreans here. About 10 immigrants from Southeast Asian countries participated in the translation project to help people settle down in Korea more easily.

Three movies, ``Wolf Daddy,'' ``Stand by Me’’ and ``Walking in the Rainy Day’’ and a cartoon cooking guide were translated into four languages, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese and English. The cartoon contains recipes for various Korean dishes and is already popular among foreign workers.

``My Filipino friends asked me to translate a Korean cartoon and movie into Tagalong and I did the job for almost three months from September last year,’’ said Maria Judids Bublacion, 38. Maria is married to a Korean here. ``It is my pleasure to help them. I hope to get more opportunities to do this kind of job for immigrants here,’’ she added.

Cultural Action (CA), a non-profit civic organization, organized the translation project, which it pursued in cooperation with a cartoon company and the Association of Korea Independent Film & Video funded by the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs.


Read more > Korea 
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