Take your MBA Global! Tips for International Executives

  • What are the hot, global trends in business?
  • Do you have the SKE’s (skills, knowledge and experience) to compete globally?
  • Do you have a high degree of inter-cultural competency? How do you know?
Read on about the global, career trends for international business...

One of the biggest trends in the 21rst century business landscape is the need for more global business executives. Increasingly, the boundaries between countries, cultures and business units are disappearing. However, there is a dearth of North American business professionals with the global skills to compete on this level. This is a hot new specialty and many business professionals are scrambling to attain mastery of inter-cultural competency. One of the first things to consider is language fluency and whether you are ready, willing, able to learn a second language. In many sectors, though English may be used a knowledge of the local language would give you a huge competitive advantage.

Although many International MBA programs prepare students for business, some fail to teach the cultural components for a successful Global Executive. The latest McKinsey Global Survey details these global trends. "According to this Global Survey "Executives around the world see innovation and the free flow of information as the primary drivers of an accelerating pace of change in the global business environment."    McKinsey Global Survey

These trends are shaping many American business schools and MBA programs. As an MBA  Career Counselor, I've specialized in global career coaching, global HR, and expat country selection.  My role is to sensitize and educate MBA's in intercultural communication, global business ettiquette and the rigors of an international, job search. It is not possible to prepare students for any and all global business eventualities, but we can teach students how to prepare for expat assignments. Since several of my MBA cohorts study, live and intern abroad - the global component is doubly important.

In fact, a Global Partners MBA program is singularly unique since students live and work in 4 countries: USA, France, Brazil and China As part of their career support, these students receive a battery of career, personality and inter-cultural tests to determine the best "country-fit." Addionally, a Masters of International Business degree, which also includes a 4 month, global internship as well as study abroad components. The choice of an expat assignment should not be taken lightly. It should be closely researched and matched with the SKE’s of a particular candidate. See my post on Random Expat Country Selection. If you are also considering a globally, focused MBA, ask your potential school what onboarding and expat support is offered. Ask whether they have a dedicated, Career Advisor and if that advisor is multi-lingual and has global experience. Ask whether the program is truly global, will you live/work/study in other countries or is there an option to intern abroad?

Potential global executives must also consider the cultural implications and cultural mores of doing business on a global scale. Learning how to navigate a new country, culture and business environment in an inter-culturally-sensitive way is fast becoming an essential skill. What we, as North Americans assume are standard business norms are in fact culture-bound constructs. Added to the complexity is any given individuals degree of acculturation. Some global professionals may in fact be bi-cultural, speak several languages and have more fluid business styles. See my post on What Is Your Stage Of Identity Development? The Increasing Globalization Of The Workplace

Global Business Professionals - how they are assessed by international recruiters?
  • The professional component (includes education and work-experience). How is business in your field, different on a local, national or global scale?
  • The “international IQ” component, which measures your level of international and intercultural awareness. (stay tuned for my next post on this topic) Are you inter-culturally competent with a high degree of international IQ? Have you lived, worked, studies in multiple countries? Are you multi-lingual?
Note: research has found that the BEST American candidates (the star performers) are only at a minimum qualification level to survive the rigors of international employment! It is a whole different ball-game in the global arena. Working abroad will not be business as usual. It will instead contain an exciting, often bewildering and steep, learning curve.  By the end of our Global MBA program and Masters of International Business programs our students have begun their journey towards inter-cultural competency and international IQ. Are you ready for global business?

More reading: 
Author: © 2010 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon B. Cohen, MA, Counseling Psychology,CPRP.
Licensed Counselor. Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist.

"Virtual Career Counseling: helping business professionals, reach their career potential!"

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