As Linked In launches its #HowIGotHere campaign with EDB and NTUC, they have revealed that more than half of CXOs in Singapore have international experience.
Not too surprising when you think of the size of the little red dot we live in. After all, the international experience could include work or education, and we know a lot of students head overseas to complete their University studies.
But in fact the trend is amongst global CXOs as well (though admittedly the percentage is higher in Singapore). In my own company, I’m one of two founders and we’ve both spent the better part of a decade living and working abroad. We recently made a senior management hire, he happens to be someone who’s lived and worked internationally. Co-incidence? I think not.
In Singapore you’re exposed to so many nationalities on any given working day. It truly is a melting pot of talent. Our own company represents Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Great Britain, Malaysia, Belgium and in the past we’ve also had people from India and South Africa too. Can you imagine being the leader of that company if you’d never experienced living and working in another culture yourself?
Ever had to start your whole contact book again and prove that you can still make it? Try moving abroad ten years into your career. Ever had to create a whole new social circle, the like of which you won’t have had to do since day #1 at University? Relocate. Ever had to truly understand the nuances of building a culture with a team who all have different notions of recognition and reward? Try planning a successful Christmas party in your new location!
For me the biggest professional lesson I’ve learnt working internationally is how to really understand the person sat in front of me. No assumptions, no template; just spend the time to ask open questions and listen actively to what you hear.
Tossed completely outside my comfort zone on numerous occasions, I’ve had to remind myself of best practice in Talent Acquisition and sharpen the tools of my trade more times than I can remember. There is literally no space for laziness when you’re completely exposed.
Perhaps as well as the skills the international CXOs learnt is also a curiosity and willingness to try something new that can also be found in many of the world’s top leaders. Those who moved internationally sought out a new experience, challenged themselves and no doubt enjoyed the ride along the way. After all, if you’re not growing, someone else will come zooming past!