February 2013    
Thinking Aloud Podium We Recommend Standing Ovation
The Bridge Builders for Globalization: The Expatriate Managers - Jay Interview with Srinivas Krishnan Managing Director, Crown Worldwide Group – South Asia

Google Scholar articles and videos on YouTube Umang Charitable Trust

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In today’s interconnected world, where global organisations are aiming to tap the potential offered by emerging markets, talent mobility has gained much traction. The movement is not only from the developed to the emerging, but powerhouses from the emerging nations too are sending managers abroad. In this month’s ET we look closely at this emerging trend and the challenges and opportunities posed by it. Expat assignments are one way of developing a talent pool for the future wherein emerging nations will wield much more economic prowess and thus be important growth markets for MNCs. But the need of the hour is to have a well laid out plan and a structured program to handle expatriate assignments, so that the ROI for the organisation and the individual are high.

Thinking Aloud this month features Jay who talks to us about the expatriate managers as the bridge builders for globalisation. He shares with us the commonly used definition of a global manager and tells us that in recent times these managers are sent on assignments to establish business supremacy in newer markets characterized by extreme competition. But, these assignments away from home pose their own set of challenges and the global manager must be prepared to tackle these challenges thrown up not only in the typical office setting, but also in the personal space. But if the expat program is structured correctly, then it’s a win-win for the organisation and the individual.

On the Podium this month we have Srinivas Krishnan Managing Director, Crown Worldwide Group – South Asia, who talks to us about the global manager. He shares with us some reasons for the recent upsurge in this trend and tells us which geographical locations are the hotspots witnessing the trend. He also throws light on the expat managers in the Indian context; which industries are posting global talent in India and what are the levels at which the movements are being witnessed. According to him, housing, schooling and infrastructural issues are some of the foremost challenges faced by expats in being posted in India. In the end, he shares with us the offerings of Crown Worldwide which aims to make the relocation process seamless for these global managers through its offices spread across the globe.

In We Recommend this month, we share with you links to interesting thesis and research articles which we zeroed on using the Google Scholar feature offered by Google and some videos on YouTube. The research articles include papers on ‘Communication Challenges in an expatriate program’, ‘Improving the probabilities of success of expatriate managers in the global organisation of the 21st century’ and ‘Do global firms measure expatriate return on investment? While the YouTube videos feature a professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management talking of why corporate expatriates need to rethink their roles in emerging markets, a Trainer talking about Cross-cultural communication and an animation from E&Y’s T Magazine showing the changes occurring on the global assignments front.

Standing Ovation this month recognizes Umang Charitable Trust, a Mumbai based NGO, working for autistic and slow learners and multiple handicapped children. The organisation provides interdisciplinary care to children with developmental disabilities with an aim to integrate such children into the regular curriculum of schools. It helps children with many types of learning disabilities and also offers a wide variety of facilities. Umang aims to have an integrated infrastructure to offer educational and other aid to autistic children at affordable/minimal cost. For its aim and its efforts, Umang deserves a Standing Ovation!

In Figures of Speech, Vikram gives a ‘cultural shock’ to a global manager!

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Thinking Aloud

The Bridge Builders for Globalization: The Expatriate Managers - Jay
The rise of multinational firms has created a global workforce called the expatriate global manager. Commonly defined as ‘a highly skilled worker with unique expertise who is sent to work in another unit of the same company located in a foreign country, generally on a temporary basis’, such managers are increasingly visible in India in recent times.

Expatriate population is the hallmark of any colonial rule, and history tells us that there have been many societies where such an overseas group lived a cocooned existence, in a bubble, often wrapped cosily in luxuries away from the locals or ‘natives’. That was the past and now the post-industrial world has seen a newer version where the expatriate managers’ tribe consists of honchos on a mission to establish business supremacy in markets that have competition from all over the world.

Yet, in the words of the late Prof. Sumantra Ghoshal and his colleague, Christopher Bartlett, there is no such entity called the universal global manager. Surveying the landscape of the global professionals, they spoke instead of four kinds of managers: Business Managers, Country Managers, Functional Managers, and the Corporate Manager, those who are tasked with nurturing the specialists and coordinate their efforts. Either way, the phenomenon of these skilled professionals is here to stay.

Such managers are assigned for multiple reasons: be it for their functional knowledge, leadership skills, subject matter expertise, or in some cases as the vanguard force to establish a new business built on market entry strategies designed at home. Another set of managers are those who form part of the global workforce today, who travel in search of better earnings opportunities into geographies where the local workforce lacks the requisite skills. This category includes the migrant managerial workforce in places like the Middle East (UAE, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, etc.) and parts of East and West Africa.

What are the typical challenges faced by them? Shorn of the glamour, the reality is that leading an expatriate life has multiple challenges, even without including issues at the workplace (and these can be very difficult too). This includes social and cultural shocks that are often encountered on a daily basis - be it the obstacles of language, food and physical comfort (apartments, leisure, etc.). However, the real taxing matters are those arising from emotional discomfort, issues of loneliness and alienation from the local setting.

What is not often acknowledged is that the maximum brunt is borne by the spouse and children of expatriate managers. Often described as the ultimate nuclear family, away from grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, and the familiar faces of neighbours and friends, the family has to begin afresh and make new relationships in an alien setting. This can lead them to getting really close to each other as they truly have to support one another, or the pressures can come to a boil, causing not just domestic strife but also showing up through displacement behavior of the expatriate manager at the office.

The final straw in some cases is that sometimes when the expatriate finally returns home (technically called ‘repatriation’) - particularly after a long overseas innings - he feels reverse cultural shock. Re-entry difficulties are once again societal and in some cases, organisational, where the overseas manager finds that he was forgotten in an insignificant corner of the world, at a minor outpost of the firm.

In the final analysis, is it worth transporting such managers across the globe, disrupting their social and family life? The answer in today’s context is a resounding ‘yes’. If done right, and structured with careful planning, the pay-off is immense, both to the firm and the manager. Potentially, the knowledge brought by the manager can jumpstart business in market entry situations and in running firms, can contribute to raising the bar to new operating levels of excellence. For the manager today, a stint in the emerging markets may become a trial by fire but success here is generally a recipe for fast track growth in the firm’s echelons. Ghoshal and Bartlett’s corporate managers are today carefully knitting together a game plan for grooming all-rounders who can be the crack commando forces ready to be deployed into geographies that need assistance, and who in turn receive a substantial compensation package that make it attractive for them to bear the itinerant life. This exclusive band of global nomads seek new tests in foreign shores to test their professional capability, knowing that spurring the earning there raises the chances of corporate glory, irrespective of the price paid by them at the domestic front.

Such a hardy bunch of managers are equipped with a positive attitude of curiosity, eager to explore new avenues with alacrity and with a flexible style of operation. Assimilating with the local environment with rapid ease, they are the modern Captain Kirks chalking victories for their business in new worlds, and ever eager to share their coping strategies and learning with new rookies of this global world. They are the bridge builders to a modern world where national borders mean little and where the ties that bind are one of seeing similarities across societies rather than superficial differences. They are the ones that are ushering in the brave new world of transnational enterprises, and provide the currency of excellence that corporate boards are now seeking.

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Srinivas Krishnan, Managing Director, Crown Worldwide Group – South Asia
As the Managing Director of Crown Worldwide – South Asia, Srinivas has been responsible for the business in India from July 2010. He played an anchor role in turning around Crown Worldwide’s Indonesian operation in 1998. He was a core member of the Senior Management team at Crown Worldwide Indonesia and won the Performance Award for the Best Managed Operation amongst peer countries in 2001.

Srinivas started his career as a Cost Trainee in a German pharmaceutical organisation. With his dedicated efforts and analytical skills, he rose to the role of a Financial Controller with a Hong Kong based company. His journey at Crown Worldwide began at its Indonesia vertical.

Throughout his journey with Crown, he has played various leadership roles and has been responsible for the growth in the respective markets. His role in fixing the corporate structure in Indonesia from a local entity to a foreign entity for a 100% control was imperative. He also spearheaded the internal audits for Crown Worldwide Group in some of the key operation markets like China, Philippines, India, Russia and Vietnam. He has also been a mentor to his peers in India, Singapore, Malaysia and China and has guided them on an on-going basis by corporate training for Strategy Mapping. In one of his important business roles, he also did a due-diligence for an acquisition in South Africa and has been part of the development team to implement purchase-to-pay strategic initiatives.

Srinivas has several Finance degrees including AICWA, CFA, ACMA and CGMA. He is a qualified Chartered Institute of Management Accountant from UK and is an MBA from the University of Chicago.

ET:  Recently we have seen an upsurge in the trend of global managers. What according to you are the key reasons behind this phenomenon?

SK:  As recession hits the Western world, the trend is towards shifting the core talent at top level from recession hit areas to those regions which are experiencing growth, namely Asia, where some of the economies are experiencing double digit growth rate. This will help the MNC’s to develop future talent locally in these regions to create a pool of senior executives to manage the business.

Further, a number of successful companies from emerging markets are making a foray into the Western world, where they find a niche through knowledge leveraging. As a result, they seem to relocate their experienced managers from home to the niche markets to be their eyes and ears. For e.g. Godrej and Mahindra from India; Lenovo and Haier from China and HTC from Taiwan.

ET:  Can you share with us some recent statistics on the global geographical relocation trends? Are there any hotspots seen emerging?

SK:  While we are yet to have a firm grip on statistics, the emerging hotspots are Africa and South Asia, North Asia and South East Asia. In South Asia, especially India and Sri Lanka and in South East Asia, mainly Indonesia.

ET:  Recent press reports talk about global managers heading to India. Which industries and jobs and from which geographies are these movements being witnessed?
SK:  A number of hotels are setting up their infrastructure in South Asia to cater to the future growth. Some of the audit firms who missed the bus during the back office boom days of early 2000’s are setting up their base in India. UK, France, Canada, USA, Hong Kong and Australia are the countries from where senior managers are being shifted to emerging markets in Asia and Africa.

Most of the C-suite positions are being filled up by expats as a result of the talent exchange program and Indian nationals are being relocated abroad for an international stint. Further, the easing of FDI by the government has thrown up a lot of opportunities for managers who have excelled in retail in their respective markets.

Also, a number of Asians who migrated abroad for higher education two to three decades ago have gained enough experience and are returning to their origins to either build a future safety net or test their entrepreneurial instincts.

ET:  What are the key challenges faced by the expatriates in India?

SK:  Housing to match their expectations, schooling for their children, immigration issues, infrastructural bottlenecks due to traffic, shortage of helpers at home and the time lag to become culturally cohesive, are the pressing issues for expatriates.

ET:  What are the offerings of Crown Worldwide in India? What are the value differentials that Crown Relocations offers to the global managers?

SK:  Crown Worldwide Group with our 17 year presence in India is the only multinational corporation with a wholly owned subsidiary which serves in all three areas of relocations, records management and world mobility services. We have a wide and well-connected network of 260 plus offices worldwide, which includes nine branches in India, focusing on the complete elimination of our clients’ concerns. One program named ‘Crown Touch’ is aimed to reduce the stress level of the assignees aiming at an experience of absolute peace of mind while availing our service. We make this possible through interconnected offices across the globe enabling access to real-time information about relocation services, via phone or internet. To enable and ensure customer satisfaction Crown has developed a Quality Management Program called ‘QUEST’ based on the ISO framework to ensure adherence to same quality parameters across all global locations. The service levels experienced in India by them are on par with what they would seek elsewhere, and the one point of contact in all the three businesses irrespective of the location, with dedicated account managers who serve by paying individual attention are unique.

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We Recommend

Google Scholar articles and videos on YouTube

This month we explored more options to seek information from, and found Google Scholar to have interesting features for searching scholarly articles on various topics, including this month’s business theme. YouTube as always had a wide choice of videos; here we present three videos that we felt were amongst the best for our theme.

1) Communication Challenges in an expatriate program (Case Study: IKEA Ltd.) – by Henri Lopponen

This thesis throws light on the different challenges that expatriates programs can bring to a company planning or implementing an expatriate program. The author had the opportunity to research a newly established expatriate program in IKEA Ltd. called The Backpacker Journey. Together with program and communication managers a survey was designed based on the feedback received from both expatriates and other program managers. These issues concerned mainly communication and were the base for the whole expatriate program research.

Link: http://theseus17-kk.lib.helsinki.fi/handle/10024/45200

2) Improving the probabilities of success of expatriate managers in the global organisaiton of the 21st century – by Michael Harvey, Nancy Napier and Miriam Moeller

This article, published in International Journal of Human Resources Development and Management, proposes the modifications that need to be made to the historic/traditional concept of expatriation to include creative solutions and means of implementing them as a way for expatriate managers to fit the staffing requirement of the 21st century global organisation. According to the authors globalisation has necessitated that selection, training/development, compensation, performance appraisal of expatriate managers should be viewed differently to reflect current environmental/political circumstances.

Link: http://inderscience.metapress.com/content/q355r706v4556k18/

3) Do global firms measure expatriate return on investment? An empirical examination of measures, barriers and variables influencing global staffing practices – by Yvonne McNultya, Helen De Cieria & Kate Hutchingsa

This research examines how expatriate ROI is measured for long-term assignments in 51 global firms, across 18 industries, and with headquarters in North America, UK, Europe, Africa, and Asia Pacific. The findings suggest that firms do not have formal procedures in place to measure expatriate ROI and instead rely heavily on informal practices that are seldom aligned to a global strategy. Cultural, operational, and strategic barriers to measuring ROI also exist. Based on evidence that the nature of expatriation is rapidly changing, the research concludes that expatriate ROI remains a challenging and complex process that managers in global firms are currently not well-equipped to address.

Link: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09585190902909830

Videos on Youtube:
1) Nathan Washburn, a professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, says corporate expatriates need to rethink their roles in emerging markets.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cvku7xCPOmE

2) Cross-cultural communication - International business culture (how to work with different cultures ) with Mark Walsh from Integration Training talking about the work of Geert Hofstede
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at7srdUiRfM

3) The expatriate executive is alive and well, but the purpose of their assignments has significantly changed, as has the approach to handling them. T Magazine´s (an EY initiative) animation highlights the evolution of the role.
Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiHdHcRUdnM

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Standing Ovation

Umang Charitable Trust
Umang is a Mumbai based NGO working for autistic and slow learners and multiple handicapped children. Established on 04 June 2000, by Ms. Bhawana Kerkar, Umang was formed with the specific objective of providing interdisciplinary care to children with developmental disabilities. Their mission is to integrate autistic children and slow learners into regular curriculum in normal schools and help them adapt to their social environment.

At Umang, they help children with a wide range of disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, learning disability, autism, attention deficit disorder, behavioral disorder, etc. They offer a complete range of clinical services (from pediatric assessment to therapies) and reach out to differently abled children from municipal schools in need of specific treatment. They provide free training and therapies like occupational therapy, speech therapy and remedial education for under privileged children.

Umang provides a wide range of facilities which include the following: psycho-educational assessment, psychological counseling and guidance, occupational therapy assessments and sensory integration, remedial education, cognitive therapy, speech therapy, social skills training, pre-vocational training along with parent support group and pre-NIOS training.

Their aim is to have an integrated infrastructure, where along with the education, autistic children can get all kinds of therapy under one roof at affordable/minimal charges. It also aims to create awareness of potential environmental triggers for autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

From nurturing children to making them independent, Umang has ticked all the right boxes, and hence it deserves a Standing Ovation.

If you want to get more information and support Umang, you can visit the website http://www.umang-trust.org or write to them at info@umang-trust.org.

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