Managers need international experience

Managers must notch up international experience if they are serious about making it to the top, according to research published today.

The latest Recruitment Confidence Index, produced by Cranfield School of Management and the Daily Telegraph in association with Personnel Today, shows that nearly half of employers responding to the survey (42%) say they have increased their international recruitment over the past five years.

And 18% say the number of staff leaving to work abroad has also increased. Meanwhile, 20% of firms say it is either important or very important that their senior managers spend time overseas.

“It is not just globalisation that is driving increased mobility among top managers,” said Dr Michael Dickmann, director of the Centre for Research into the Management of Expatriation at Cranfield School of Management. “The explosion of knowledge and learning, and the desire to develop leaders for the future are also encouraging firms to expatriate and repatriate skills.”

The research shows that firms are not looking for international experience for the sake of it. Mostly they are seeking technical skills, language ability and market knowledge. More than three-quarters of employers recruiting abroad (78%) said the availability of technical skills was significant in their decision to hire overseas, 60% cited language skills and 50% knowledge of overseas markets. Reducing labour costs was only significant to 20% of employers.

Search and selection firm Torres and Partners has seen its overseas work grow four-fold over the past five years, largely as a result of client demand. Director Alison Diamond said: “The idea that UK managers don’t travel well is not true. We have many client firms who come to us to plug skills gaps that are the result of UK managers taking their talent overseas.

“UK managers have qualities that are admired in many quarters; we are a cosmopolitan country and extremely aware and understanding of different cultures, which is a huge advantage.

“We can sometimes fail to appreciate this, but our experience and expertise as business leaders and entrepreneurs is something that is admired and translates well in a global market,” she said.

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