If you look in the Globalization section of this blog you will find the insertion of and link to an article in the Atlantic magazine. Reading if for the first time on the Atlantic's website, was an epiphany for me. I have been working with business professionals worldwide for awhile now and had noticed their distinct prediliction to stay global and not repatriate back to their home country. Their choice was predicated on a variety of factors but those all reflected the trends stated in the article.
They enjoy the lifestyle that an international experience affords. Many had their children in the international school system which is a US prep school equivalent education. Students on those campuses worldwide receive early solicitation and consideration at the top US universities who visit their campuses on a regular basis.
There is a certain uniqueness living as a "guest" in another country at the level of these executives. No this is not guest worker status to say the least. There is an automatic entree into social circles that might not be as easily accessed by country natives. I know I have done it. Of course there is also the exclusive circle of expat communities where people from many countries, cultures and multi-national companies meet, build, and forge ties.
The article aptly points out the ever widening chasm between a global elite group of professionals and the local business populations. However I would posit that are all country economies become more integrated into the global whole and salaries equalize worldwide, many more so-called local or regional professionals will be competing globally work and be willing to live where the opportunities are.
If you are over 50 and reading this, you may find it hard to grasp, but educated professionals everywhere under 30 just get it.
Whenever M&As happen everyone always speculates on the manpower outcomes. Who will stay and who will go. Often a smaller acquired company is left to be a wholly owned subsidiary with its management intact until something goes wrong or changes dramatically. That's what happened to a company where my client is interviewing for the CEO role. It was geographically distant from the parent company. Further, it was bought for both the technology and the talent who could deliver it.
It's a small unique engineering company located in central California. The founder sold it to a well-known company in Kansas and stayed for 4 years to ensure a successful transition. Now the search is on for a new CEO.
Here are the search challenges:
There are moments when retained search firms earn every dollar they charge. This was one of them. Several candidates were put forward and rejected prior to my client. My client and I prepped for the in-person interview with the search firm.
Here are the interview issues we addressed:
The interview is not about the product and service of the company. It is not about how skilled and experienced the potential candidate may be. It is about corporate culture, values, and emotional intelligence. All soft stuff, very hard to probe within the context of an interview. Better to spend time the company and candidate together to get to know each other over lunch, dinner, group meetings and on-site trips.
It is a career derailer to take a position that is not the best fit for you at this level. Nor should a company hire at this juncture a CEO that doesn't have a 90% chance of success. It is a crucial transition in the acquisition process when the old management steps aside. The entire success of the company can hang in the balance: wittness the fiasco of the MacDonalds - Boston Market acquistion.
Finding and hiring the best talent is always a challenge but a Merger & Acquisition situation makes it especially a deal-breaker.
Too often I have seen executives come out of specific corporations noted for their strong cultures and not do well in adjusting to a radical career move into a much different culture. I read in Deal and Kennedy's book, Corporate Cultures, that the founders of an organization set the tone and the style of the culture.
I suppose this is obvious when you look at companies with notable CEO's such as Apple's Steve Jobs, Berkshire or Hathaway's Warren Buffet. It is less obvious to connect the style of IBM to Thomas Watson the primary CEO who grew the company from selling typewriters to a computer manufacturer. Can we see the imprint of Henry Ford anymore on Ford Motor Company, or of Christian Dior on the House of Dior?
It seems the farther was the organization is from its early roots and founder in terms of time and even geography the more imperceptible the origin of the culture becomes. I mean where is Erle P. Halliburton's ghost now that the company moved to a new HQ in Dubai?
Nevertheless, the imprint of custom, tradition, and personality remains in how the employees conduct business, interact with each other and the world. A former hedge fund and derivatives operative from a prominent, infamous investment banking firm inquired about my services. The dynamics of the process with him was interesting. Once he determined that he wanted to engage my services he started to negotiate the deal. To him it was just a normal business transaction and his way of doing it.
He started on price, even though I offer multiple packages at different flat rates that are substantially lower than my hourly rate, he tried to haggle over my fees. When that didn't work he turned to terms and conditions by trying to combine multiple packages and extend the time spent by breaking down sessions into 30 minutes each...all, of course at the lowest rate. I decided not to work with him as our styles just did not match as he comes from a culture that is deal driven and so he is and I am so not.
The moral of the story is that we all come from multiple unique cultures, not just your family of origin, but your professional field, and the organizations where you have been employed. Developing your awareness to your personality and behaviors traits enable you to make better "fit" decisions when evaluating your career options.
This headline would normally be an announcement of a planned military offensive rather than economic initiative. But it is all the same now isn't it? Any professional not paying attention to US based companies moving offshore in search of new markets will lose out on opportunities to pursue. These companies do not just hire Chinese nationals to expand their demographics and penetrate into new markets.
KFC, Pizza Hut push deeper into China
CAROLYNNE WHEELER BEIJING— From Wednesday's Globe and Mail Published Tuesday, May. 10, 2011 7:10PM EDT Last updated Wednesday, May. 11, 2011 5:20AM EDT
Yum Brands adds to fast-food restaurant stable with popular hot-pot chain, Little Sheep The Colonel's secret recipe in China has more to do with egg tarts and breakfast fritters than how he spices his chicken.
The KFC menu in China is heavily adapted to local tastes - think rice dishes and hot soy milk alongside the classic fried chicken and hot wings. The variety of offerings - along with a ubiquitous market presence - has helped the chain take off in China.
Now Yum Brands Inc., YUM-N KFC's parent company, is trying to fend off competition from domestic rivals and foreign competitors like McDonald's Corp. MCD-N by buying up a popular hot-pot chain, Little Sheep. Their preliminary offer for the Inner Mongolia-headquartered chain is still subject to regulatory approval, but if successful would add nearly 500 more restaurants to their China fold, which now includes more than 3,800 KFC and Pizza Hut locations.
The move shows the importance of the Chinese market for fast-food chains that are struggling at home. Yum Brands is the largest fast-food operator in China and its business here played a crucial role in its first-quarter earnings this year. Worldwide operating profit was up 5 per cent, thanks largely to 18-per-cent growth in China, even as profit dropped 13 per cent in the United States.
For the rest of the story in Canada's Globe and Mail click here.
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