Op­ti­mistic ex­ec­u­tives move with the times

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MOV­ING over­seas to fur­ther a ca­reer is be­com­ing an in­creas­ingly vi­able op­tion for Aus­tralian se­nior ex­ec­u­tives, re­search re­veals.

The Bluesteps ex­ec­u­tive and mo­bil­ity sur­vey found 70 per cent of se­nior ex­ec­u­tives in Aus­tralia are pre­pared to re­lo­cate abroad and gen­er­ally are more open to mak­ing ca­reer moves.

The sur­vey, re­leased by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ex­ec­u­tive Search Con­sul­tants, says the high op­ti­mism of peo­ple about mak­ing the move is a pos­si­ble re­flec­tion of the rea­son­ably ro­bust Aus­tralian econ­omy.

AESC Asia-Pa­cific chair­man Harry O’Neill says that with the in­creas­ing strength of the econ­omy, 46 per cent of ex­ec­u­tives in the re­gion be­lieve they have more ca­reer op­por­tu­ni­ties now than five years ago.

‘‘How­ever, as a re­sult of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, many se­nior-level ex­ec­u­tives have put a hold on plans for re­tire­ment, which is mak­ing it dif­fi­cult for the next gen­er­a­tion of work­ers to move up the lad­der quickly,’’ he says.

The op­ti­mism about mov­ing over­seas is, how­ever, ta­pered with 67 per cent of ex­ec­u­tives in­di­cat­ing they are not ex­pect­ing a pro­mo­tion, say­ing they plan to stay at the same level for the next three to five years – even if they re­lo­cate abroad.

AESC vice-chair­man Ja­son John­son says it is not sur­pris­ing Aus­tralian se­nior ex­ec­u­tives are more open to job change than many o f their over­seas coun­ter­parts.

‘‘The im­pact of the global re­ces­sion was greater in the north­ern hemi­sphere than in Aus­tralia,’’ he says.

‘‘As a re­sult, se­nior ex­ec­u­tives here are less risk-averse and ready to take on new op­por­tu­ni­ties, in­clud­ing roles over­seas. Aus­tralians have a unique, ad­ven­tur­ous spirit and ac­tively seek op­por­tu­ni­ties to work in dif­fer­ent coun­tries and cul­tures.

‘‘This at­tribute is highly re­garded by com­pa­nies as they seek to es­tab­lish a highly mo­bile, cul­tur­ally adapt­able work­force.’’

SA Tourism Com­mis­sion mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor David O’Lough­lin, who has just re­turned to Ade­laide af­ter spend­ing time over­seas and in­ter­state, says the time he spent away has been ben­e­fi­cial for his ca­reer.

He says em­ploy­ees who de­cide to move over­seas need to change their way of think­ing to adapt to the mar­ket, even if it is the same as the one they are al­ready work­ing in.

‘‘All of those (for­eign) mar­kets have dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives on how busi­ness is run,’’ he says.

‘‘The de­mands of the peo­ple, the de­mands of the cul­ture and the de­mands of the spe­cific cat­e­gory or busi­ness you are in are very, very dif­fer­ent.

‘‘The big­gest thing I learnt was to lis­ten first, sit back and con­sider the en­vi­ron­ment that I am in first be­fore I make a de­ci­sion.’’

He says peo­ple must think care­fully, be­fore they leave, about where they will go and what ex­pe­ri­ence they will gain which will lead to long-term ben­e­fits.

Pic­ture: Brooke Whatnall

New mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor for the South Aus­tralian Tourism Com­mis­sion David O’Lough­lin spent 15 years work­ing over­seas.

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