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.

Couple of comments

Hi Svibanez,

Sounds like a good problem to have, you're clearly valued by a major customer. Nice work.

I've done something this a couple of times and have three suggestions for you:

1 - Check the entitlements longer term, I'm thinking pension/options/tax here. Neither your company nor the client can alter legislation and it's up to you to ensure you don' t lose out on some boring, but important stuff. 

2 - Your importance to the COO is likely to be linked to the importance of client, not your location. Maybe think more about the relevance/importance of this client to your organisation in the future.

3 - I would be sceptical of ANYONE who can predict how things will be in a few months time, let alone a few years. I really couldn't tell you with any certainty how big my organisation will be, who we'll be working with and who will be here in that time scale, so perhaps don't be too sure about what your world will be like towards the end of this assignment.

Mostly, though, remember it's a good decision to have, a good place to be. You've obviously done well and earned it, so enjoy whichever path you choose.

Best Regards

MK

Thank you, MK

I appreciate your comments and your vote of confidence.  Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.  I'll certainly take a hard look at the "package" when/if it comes.

Steve

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Wow, you have lots on your

Wow, you have lots on your plate!!

But by any means it is not the end of the world...Specially not yours!

Great things are happenning to you.  As much as I read, your assignment is to make sure your partner company becomes more independent from your mother/sister company; which makes you travel accross the world to make sure this happens.  Am i correct??is

This is excellent, because if I am not wrong that means that you will be in charge for this to happenned.  Whether there will be jobs lost or not; we all feel bad about that; but the bottom line must be met in order to compete, stay afloat; etc.  This may be the reason they are sending there.  Sometimes as a manager you must have a cold heart and do what you must.  It hurts as a human being and I know how that feels... But in most cases, we got to do what we gots to do!! pardon my english!!... But you must do it.  And if Im correct, you will be the person in charge to make it happenned.  So if it is so... make happenned buddy!!  Not everyone gets these experiences, enjoy; learn and be happy, sad.

****First check with HR when doing these****

 

 what I can advise you:

Make sure you get all  of the above in writing, clearly stated; concise... that anyone can understand what it is meant wihout any doubt and by this I mean:

Ask your employer to draft a contract that states what you are exactly to do outside the US, including goals, time of stay, moving compensation (if any), any traveling expenses includuing local ones (country of stay while outisde of US) covered; including but not limited to your trip back to the US covered by them (whether you are let go/release of your duties outside of the US or not).  Make sure that you also state in your contract that you will have the same position or greater in your return.  And if you are to be let go by your company for any reason, a compensation as much as 3 months (at least) or more for you to secure a return to a new employment (as long as you are outside of the US). and any extras that you can think of so that it is to be clearly defined!  as long as you are outside of the US.

Please don't be scare about going abroad since it is one place that you will learn from zero and have a great amount of resources that you can learn from including things done by hands or things that even though you delegate them will not be done, either because there is the language barrier or issues or because simply you are by all means the responsible one!!

I can give you a bad example:  I met a manager that was not from the US, and he was given a stay in the US for sometime but he never secure a contract that stated that he will get a return ticket back home.  His contract and the clients contract were terminated due to none-performance of the company as he was in charge of the account.  He had to borrow money from his family to return home.  He had to pay $5,000.oo USD out of pocket to return home. His employer did not covered him at all since there was nothing to bind the employer to do so!

 

FInally; whether they let you go or not...make sure that you write the things that you were able to do successfully so that you can put them on your resume for later...in any case you decide to move where the grass is greener...If there is such thing... ??

 

Extras:

Many never consider these little things... make sure you do!!

Before traveling check with your local US Embassy for any red flags on the country you are going to travel to; also any vaccinations that you need to take before traveling. then make sure to check-in your embassy in your local (abroad) country for any case of anything out of the ordinary happens, leave your direct contact number, email, etc just in case!!

****Check with your medical insurance that you are covered in the country you are goign to reside for that time.  If not, give your sister company a call and ask if you can purchase a local medical coverage. And make sure that your company also covers part of it.  Please double and triple check this one... It is very important due that policies change without notice...****

Also make sure that you know where foreigners hang out so that you dont run into any trouble in places that you should not be at...I sound like a mom already. But I have hear and seen things that makes you wonder: from being drugged to be killed!! Please, be carefull

back to the topic:

This is usually drafted in most globals companies and they usually cover their expats. Many managers will not know this but usually only those that have being accepted to large companies do. Make sure that is a draft first that you like, so it can be considered to a final draft to a concrete contract.

The validation of your contract must state that you are covered all the way back until your touchdown in the US.

 

Good luck with this.  I hope i gave you a bad example but a great opportunity to grow. 

Wow, you have lots on your

Another thing:

Don't give any thought about the performance review in 10 years.  Worry about what is your take away in any case you will be let go. 

What do I mean abou that?  it's exactly that.... What have you learn in this company that makes you so valuable?  What is the reason that you are considered the person to get this to be realized (to get it done) instead of your manager or someone else?? Few are chosen and get looked at my friend.  Even if you are let go after you are done in that country out of the US, the amount of knowledge, experience and handling of multi-cultural beliefs and people are by all means one of a kind experiences...

Ask around how many of the manager here or elsewhere get that opportunity.  Not so many; and to get things done thru them by your leadership it is also hard; but if you can pull it off; medals of honors...because your resume will make you a very competitive person to hire on the spot!!!

Of course, you are the person to consider the opprotunity.  Look into the pros and cons...  Measure them and take a sound and very profound decision... YOU ARE THE ONLY ONE TO TAKE THIS DECISION, not anyone will make it for you. 

Great luck to you my friend.  I wish you the best luck of all, whether in/out side of the US

 

Gabe

Thank you, Gabe

You have made several good points and I truly appreciate that.  I will be successful in this position (should it materialize) and will use that experience to further my career, whether with my current employer or somewhere else!

Steve

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Would it be fair to say that

Would it be fair to say that if someone else went your job would still be at risk in 3 years time. Something to consider. 

Regards, 

Gareth

Don't Forget Currency Conditions

Hi Steve

Gabe gave you great advise. One other thing to consider is, what currency will you be paid in? Will you receive USD's or a local currency. Since you have been abroad before remember to figure out how you will take your salary home, if you are paid by the local partner.

Good luck and welcome back to the world of being an expat.

JHB  "00"