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A question of sacrifice

Dear Valérie,

The multinational for which I work offered me a three-year contract as an expat manager in India. The job description interests me very much and would without a doubt advance my career in the long-run, but sacrifices are also in the mix as I would have to uproot my two children (eight and 10 years old) and my husband would have to quit his job to follow me to India. It is a very big decision and I am wondering if you could highlight some hidden elements related to such a move that I may not be able to appreciate from my current position.

Thank you very much in advance!
Coleen

Dear Coleen,

Congratulations on having received such an offer! It is indeed very exciting! Assuming that your employer offers you a standard expat package, I will not spend any time detailing such an offer. What I will spend time discussing are the challenges and opportunities of a female expat manager – and of a mother – in an emerging market. As you certainly realize, there will be some gender-specific cultural barriers that may lead to a certain level of resistance from some of your peers and subordinates, depending on the industry you are in and the region of India you to which you will be moved.

On the other hand, women in general tend to be less linear and more connected to their emotions, which is a true positive in the Indian professional setting. A softer approach that takes into consideration employees as a whole (and not just their job performance) will be a plus there. A creative approach to time management and an appreciation for hierarchy will also prepare you for the differences you will encounter on the job and in your personal life.

Speaking of your personal life, make sure that your children and husband have access to a support system that includes expat coaching before, during and after the relocation. For you, having access to a global coach during your contract will also be instrumental in stepping back from and reflecting on situations that are often destabilizing at first due to the invisible cultural component that is hidden to the foreign eye. As a mother, it is important to accept that most expat assignments require a full dedication to the position, leaving little time for family and private life. Having a partner who accepts the role of primary caregiver to the children as well as long hours on your end will greatly ease your success in your new setting.

I hope this helps!

Valérie Berset-Price

Do you have a question for Valérie? Email Valerie@vbjusa.com. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal and Valerie Berset-Price reserve the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media.

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