The Figure of the Expat: the Manager Who keeps his Bags Packed

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Author: Future Manager Research Center

Every year several companies decide to transfer one or more managers abroad, a phenomenon that has certainly enhanced following the increasingly frequent internationalization of companies. International assignments tempt many employees, especially the more adventurous, as to have the total control of the situation it is not enough to have a perfect command of the foreign language of the target country.

The reasons why a company decides to relocate its employee are among the most disparate: first of all, the desire to have a trusted man across the border who monitors an international branch knowing that he will always serve the interests of the headquarter. Secondly, this allows optimizing the communication with a foreign branch by entrusting it to a colleague who shares their same culture. Often and willingly, the international manager carries out the task of training local staff according to the policy of the parent company.

Generally speaking, we are talking about transfers that can be short or long term mostly the times vary from 1 to 5 years, a period that can be considered more than sufficient to guarantee professional maturation and growth for the Expat that has the opportunity to test himself in new and unknown contexts thus covering an almost strategic role.

Given the prospect of growth, which is potentially huge, there has been an evolution in the choice of the ideal profile to transfer: if before a middle-aged manager with great experience was preferred, now the trend is to send young talents already accustomed to travel, so that they acquire new skills and this can cushion some business costs.

However, the scenario that occurs is quite complex, since the organizational and managerial aspects of transfers require particular attention. In fact, companies must have a “secondment policy” that takes into consideration the employee’s remuneration package that may need to be revised and modified. Not to mention the contractual, tax and social security aspects supporting the departing manager, elements that vary from country to country.

Especially if the companies are small or medium-sized, there may be the need to rely on specialized consultants to whom it is very useful to rely in order not to run into management and administrative mistakes that would be decidedly annoying.