Expatriate Executives Find Challenges in the New ChinaNovember 28th, 2011 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on Expatriate Executives Find Challenges in the New China
Some people leave the United States in search of adventure. Others expatriate because they don’t like the look of things on the home front. And then there is the business class of expatriates – young and upwardly mobile corporate executives who have been entrusted the keys to the company image and sent off into an unknown but vibrant entity that is the Chinese economy. Back in the old days, when China was still a slumbering dragon, a high-level manager at a Fortune 500 business might consider a stop in the Orient as nothing more than an exotic tour of duty, complete with three martinis over a lazy lunch and leaving the office early to sample another fantastic restaurant.
American expatriate executives in China used to be more figurehead than manager. Chinese workers were plentiful and ready to sign on with any American company that hung out a shingle. These days, the dragon is an economic force
to be reckoned with, perhaps THE economic force to be reckoned with if, as many economic experts claim, China overtakes the United States as the number one world economy within the next few years.
Today’s expatriate executive heading to blossoming economies like China or India can expect to encounter a vastly different reality on the ground. A more savvy local workforce can afford to be choosier about which company they go to work for, and it’s all about the logo, or more specifically, global brand recognition. As might be expected, Nike’s swoosh and Apple’s once-bitten fruit are coveted employment positions. Expatriate executives without instant cachet from their company’s image might find it harder to make inroads into the market.
The bottom line is that the Chinese economy is hot right now and the world is paying attention. American executives can no longer sit back and dabble in the business now and then. They are forced to become managers again, and skillful managers at that, scrabbling and clawing for every business advantage available. Competition is fierce. As might be expected, expatriating to China is not quite so alluring to the lifelong company man seeking to while away the few years before retirement in a beautiful foreign land. Nope, relocating to China at the company’s request is more appealing to the hungry-for-more mid-level manager with instincts sharpened by keeping his hands fully immersed in the day-to-day activities of the business.
Expatriate executives – it’s not for grandpa any more.
The Jetsetter Show Team
Flickr / Dainis Matisons