Friday, June 27, 2008

Why I Chose Switzerland

Since I announced I was leaving for Switzerland, two of the most frequent questions have been:
  1. How did you do it?
  2. Why'd you choose Switzerland?
The answer to the second question is "I didn't choose Switzerland," which helps explain the answer to the first, "I told my boss and the HR department that I'd like global experience."

I've had several people tell me they'd like to transfer to London. Or Paris. Or Hong Kong. Which is cool. But my advice - if you're seriously considering going global - is to not be too particular about where you go.

The guy who helped orchestrate my transfer is LH Whelchel, the Chief Talent Officer at Y&R's New York headquarters. He's told me several times that when it comes to opportunities abroad "A lot of people put their hands up, but not a lot of people get called."

I think this is in part because employees say, "I want to go to work in London. Anything open?" That's way too narrow a net. There has to be an opening in London. You have to fit it. And you have to fit it better than anyone London can get for less money than it's going to cost them to ship you over there.

So if you're serious about going abroad, my neophyte recommendations are:
  1. Let the people who can affect that decision know.
  2. Don't pigeonhole yourself. Even by the language. I never would have guessed there was an English-speaking office in Switzerland.
  3. Maybe try reading this book...If you're a woman.

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