The 43rd Glasford International® Conference was held in Warsaw from 6th to 8th November 2014, hosted by Glasford International Poland. Over 20 Glasford Partners attended the event, representing 16 countries and regions, including: Austria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Russia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Canada, Brazil and Hong Kong.

A highlight of the Conference was a presentation of the results of a survey of 79 international companies from various industries on the topic of the “New Expat Generation,” which had been carried out prior to the Conference, with the cooperation of one of the world’s largest market research organizations, Millward Brown.

Gala Dinner – “New Expat Generation” results presentation & panel discussion

The survey results, together with a stimulating panel discussion between HR practitioners from leading multinationals in Poland, were featured during the Gala Dinner on 6th November, which provided an opportunity for all participants to share experiences, opinions and comments on this important and topical issue.

The results of the survey confirmed the widely observed phenomenon that increasing numbers of expatriate managers from the CEE region are being employed.

The survey identified many reasons for this trend. It found that cost considerations are a very significant factor, especially against the background of the recent economic slow-down. Other advantages of expatriates from the CEE include: strong goal orientation, fighting spirit, solid work commitment, dedication to work overtime as well as their willingness to make themselves available for expatriate positions. There has been a significant improvement in the skills and professionalism of CEE managers as a result of the social and economic reforms which have taken place since the end of the communist era. CEE managers have experienced and supported these reforms, which have transformed both their countries and their personal status. This experience has given them faith in the value of hard work and commitment to contribute to the growth and success of their organizations.

On the other hand, the survey highlighted the shortcomings of CEE Expatriates in such areas as unsatisfactory social and leadership skills, narrow perspectives, limited communication skills, insufficient acceptance of different cultures, as well as strong focus on their own career growth. But there are good grounds for confidence that these shortcomings can be overcome, and that the necessary competencies can be developed, through proper coaching, mentoring or other methods. However, the process requires:

  • openness,
  • self-awareness,
  • the potential to develop and a willingness to change,
  • time and commitment.

The survey provided interesting insights into the sources of expatriate recruitment. It showed that over 60 % of Expatriates are recruited through internal promotion. In its ranking of success factors, the survey indicated that whilst some importance is attached to “In-depth knowledge of the company” (ranked in 5th position) much greater weight is attributed to “Ability to learn fast” (No 1). Other highly valued attributes are: “Previous international experience”, “Openness to new experience” and “Goal orientation” (Nos. 2, 3, 4 respectively). These findings prompt the question: “To what extent does recruiting expatriate candidates from within the company guarantee a successful expatriate assignment?”

The findings of the survey clearly indicated the significance of the role played by the people who recruit, prepare and motivate Expatriates, as well as those who manage them during expatriate assignments. These include Regional Managing Directors, Regional HR Directors and in some cases international Executive Search Consultants.

Their main challenges include:

  • considering whether low cost Expatriates constitute the best solution for the company;
  • accurate verification of a candidate’s competences, including soft skills, needed for the expatriate role,
  • comprehensive preparation of the future Expatriate before taking up a new assignment (e.g. in terms of the new role and expected country-specific differences),
  • ensuring proper on-boarding in a new place as well as support in a longer time perspective (internal or external coaching and mentoring).

Last but not least, the survey considered the Expatriate’s motivation to go abroad. It showed that “challenge” is the most important motivating factor – carrying greater weight than such factors as career development, income growth and new learning opportunities. But what exactly does this “challenge” mean for a company’s future Expatriates? And how to ensure that he or she rises to the challenge successfully?

The survey was the inspiration for an article “Managers as Polish export products” published in the Economy section of Rzeczpospolita on 7th November 2014.

About Glasford International

Glasford International is a global (retained) executive search firm with offices throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North and South Americas. Established in 1998, we support clients in executive search and selection, leadership and personality assessments at an international, cross-border and local level.