The mission of Going Global, which appears on MidwestBusiness.com
on most Tuesdays, is to educate and inform Midwest technology companies
on what local technology companies are doing internationally so other
firms can learn from the successes of like-minded peers.
CHICAGO – International expert Michael Muth interviews “Get Ahead By Going Abroad” author C. Perry Yeatman. Listen to the interview here. Muth’s comments are here.
MM: What are the advantages and disadvantages of living and working abroad?
PY: It’s easy
for people to identify the disadvantages such as being away from home
and family. I’d like to focus on the advantages. There is a constant
sense of learning and wonder. With greater learning comes a different
and broader point of view. That’s tied to senior management.
It also lends
itself to taking on greater responsibility, which lends itself to more
money. On the personal side, it can be a real life-changing experience.
It made me respect and think of America differently. We need to learn
from others, too.
MM: What problems do women encounter when pursuing international jobs?
PY: As a
woman, I found it to be more to my advantage. Where I lived, men and
age were revered. If I had been an older man, it would have been a
confrontational power conflict. If you’re a young woman and not worried
about your ego, you have a better chance of selling an idea.
A friend of mine was a journalist with BusinessWeek
in Russia. She got eight cover stories there. As they discount women,
they said all sorts of things they never would have said to a man. It
was in the international and U.S. editions worldwide. They knew it came
out. She got better access and less restrained quotes.
MM: How do families deal with foreign assignments?
PY: It could
be one of the greatest gifts you can give a family. A lot of families
can adapt more than you would think. But watch out if you have children
of a high school age.
MM: How are the opportunities for working for foreign firms in foreign countries?
experience is with large U.S. or European multinationals. The
fastest-growing trend is intraregional expatriation. It has taken off
in Asia in Latin America. Big icons in native markets are looking to
expand with Americans to get into business here.
MM: Are opportunities any less or greater for techies?
PY: I see it
from both sides. Technology is the equalizer of the world. They can
talk regardless of your culture. I also see that there’s a huge
capability. They have their own technology firms and experts.
Do they need to buy it from elsewhere? Do you have a transferable skill? The question is whether or not you’re unique.
MM: What opportunities are available for more experienced workers?
depends. The historical model was you take both sides of the spectrum.
You take younger people and let them develop and spread their wings.
They’re inexpensive with no families. They also send people in their
50s or 60s to open up a market.
needs to feel confident with someone and be able to trust him or her.
Stature matters and age matters, too. The difference in the older set
is for women. They are volunteering not for more money but to get
amazing life experiences in the developing world.
MM: Where’s the best place to start to find a position abroad?
PY: The most
important thing is to decide what you want. Is it the money, the power
or the life experience? The more clear you can be, the better chance
your have of succeeding.
MM: What experience is required to work abroad?
PY: There are a couple questions any organization asks itself before it sends someone overseas.
What’s in it for
the company? What’s this person going to get that will be helpful to
us? What’s the chance of this person being able to survive? Are they
going to be interested? You need to look at your company strategy. Is
your company investing in Asia or Latin America? If so, in what
Match that up
with your skill set. Are they targeting you for senior management? You
need to be honest with yourself. They’re still going to be worried if
you can make it there. You should join organizations or associations to
get comfortable with the culture.
language. Take a vacation and go there. Look around. Set up interviews
and meetings with some of the heads of the firm while you’re there so
they can see you. You have a much higher likelihood of getting the
position. There is more clear benefit and you are a lower risk.
MM: Should one alter his or her resume to the national norm?
PY: If you’re
trying to be hired locally, go local. I’ve had a curriculum vitae
everywhere else except America. The set up, structure and length of a
curriculum vitae differs with an American resume. It’s longer and more
It’s still about
what skills you have. It’s just a different format. You need to appear
as desirable as possible to the hiring manager.
MM: How does the interviewing process differ?
PY: It depends
on whether you interview here for a position elsewhere or there for a
position abroad. They’re different depending on the culture in which
you’re interviewing. The onus is on the interviewee to make your
uniqueness and qualifications stand out.
MM: Is getting that international job just available at big companies?
PY: There are
opportunities with firms of all sizes. There are more with big firms.
They have more money so they can take more risks. It’s the law of
MM: How important is knowing the local language in getting the job?
PY: What’s the
role you’re going to play? It’s essential in some, but not all. If you
don’t speak a foreign language, it doesn’t rule out getting a foreign
job. If you do speak a foreign language, it can only help.
MM: What if you get “culture shock?”
it’s going to happen regardless of where you go. It’s hard every single
time. When you question why you’re doing something, it has always paid
off professionally and personally. I’m always so glad I didn’t give up.
MM: How would
you estimate the international opportunities in business versus
government versus education versus at a non-profit?
there are opportunities in all four spaces, there are more in business
or government. Non-profits are a growing opportunity to get into
developing markets. Though they can’t pay a lot, they offer some of the
most phenomenal opportunities.
MM: How did your work experience abroad change you?
PY: My husband
is a foreigner and is not an American in mindset or attitude. I can
appreciate a global mindset. While America is all about “me,” what I
learned overseas is there has to be a blend of what’s in it for me and
what’s good for the greater good of society.
I’m a lot more
tolerant. I learned to appreciate differences. I learned to listen and
how to communicate the essence of the point rather correcting than the
grammar of the point. Yes, I really love America, but there’s a lot of
the rest of the world to explore as well.
MM: What are your impressions of Chicago as an international region?
PY: Chicago is
a fabulous city. I will always be a fan of the Met. I was drawn to the
Midwest by the family values. I have a global job and a 15-minute
commute. That doesn’t exist in New York. While it’s not that
international, it’s increasing. We have to choose to want it.
MM: Anything else?
PY: If you have any desire to go overseas, go for it. You will never ever regret it.
Michael Muth is managing director of GATA,
an international business development consultancy that helps technology
companies build international partnerships. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for Muth’s full biography.
Previous Columns in 2007:E-Mail This Article to a Friend or Colleague
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Q&A: Madison Capital Partners CEO Larry Gies on International Private Equity (6/11/2007)
Q&A: Scott H. Lang of S.H. Lang & Co. in Chicago on Foreign Deal Making (5/15/2007)
Q&A: Scott H. Lang of S.H. Lang & Co. in Chicago on Middle-Market M&A (5/8/2007)
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Q&A: George Filley of NAVTEQ in Chicago on Data Localization, Reach (3/27/2007)
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Click for 2006 column archive.
Click for 2005 column archive.
Click for 2004 column archive.
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