What are the career risks in accepting a position in a foreign subsidiary of my current employer?
My company has a subsidiary in a foreign country which was established to support a major partner. As part of a new support agreement, the partner company has asked my employer to transfer me to the subsidiary for a few years and teach them how we do things. The partner company executive who runs the group I would be supporting specifically asked for me by name. I view that as a vote of confidence in my ability to help them get on the right track. My boss and his boss (the COO) are counting on me to take the assignment if the details can be worked out with the partner company.
I have completed one two-year overseas assignment for my company and I loved almost everything about it. Upon returning to the US, I remained in the same position I had been in all along, just running things remotely, with frequent visits to the overseas location. There is not a lot of room for vertical growth as we are a pretty small company. I am currently located at our headquarters where I am in the middle of everything and everyone.
My concerns are:
1. Being “forgotten” and not being considered for any promotions or lateral moves because I’m halfway around the world. This position would likely report directly to the COO, but not necessarily. He has a LOT of directs and I would probably talk to him only weekly or bi-weekly, and would see him only about once a year. I worked for my current boss during my previous overseas assignment and was lucky to talk to him monthly. The stress from lack of communication was part of the reason I returned to the US much earlier than I would have preferred.
2. Making myself obsolete. The stated purpose of this arrangement is to help the partner become self-sufficient so they don’t need our support any longer. That will cause the people currently working for the subsidiary to lose their jobs as well as me losing my own. The parent company will certainly hire someone to do the US-based work I currently do so there will probably not be a position for me to return to. We’re a small company and there aren’t likely to be any positions open when I return.
I’m hoping that some folks in the M-T community have experience with this kind of situation and can share those, good and bad, and/or give some advice on how to deal with this. I have discussed my concerns with one friend and found his career went into a stall when he accepted a remote position (and it was only a few miles from the main office).
I know the standard guidance is “until you’ve got something, you’ve got nothing” and I’d love to be able to put this out of my mind, but I can’t. No other names have been mentioned for the position.
I even directly asked my boss who would go if I chose not to, and what my career options were if I chose not to go. My questions were met with deafening silence. For what it’s worth, my boss doesn’t do O3s, can’t spell feedback, and has actually sat down to give me a (required) annual performance review only 4 of the last 10 years.