Partner Career Concerns
See also Getting a life and to view the terms of an expatriate contract as explained in the previous section.
Due to the large number of spouses who work before an assignment and resist an assignment abroad of their partner, employers have realized the need to provide solutions as to reduce this resistance.
• As a dual-career family you may negotiate for a job in the same company, for spouse/partner employment assistance, childcare assistance or spouse/partner vocational training assistance.
• As partner check your chances for reentry into your own present employer’s company when repatriating. They might be interested in your experience once you are back home and willing to help you to find a job abroad within their own organization.
There are a number of other choices in case you will not get a work permit as “dependent” along with your partner. As only a few Southeast Asian countries are open to employing foreign dependents, your new employer generally has to prove that a local professional cannot fill the position.
Keep in mind that you have to be flexible in your approach and may need to lower your expectations and values. Fortunately, along with the globalization and the Internet have come along new chances for trailing partners, e.g. starting your own business as a portable career or embarking on an open-learning concept.
Expatriate Business Women In Asia
Business in Southeast Asia remains a man’s world with women having a hard time breaking the barriers. However, gender has become much less of a barrier to success in management in Southeast Asia, and there are a number of successful women as entrepreneurs and in powerful political positions.
The number of female expatriate managers in Southeast Asia is growing slowly but this may change soon due to different family structures in the Western world.
• As a single female expatriate, you are alone when embracing the new culture and managing culture shock. Isolation is cited as a major problem.
• You are expected to adopt the norms and respect the local traditions for women in your professional and private life.
• You will not command respect automatically but gain respect by fitting in.
• There are a number of regional and local networks for businesswomen in Southeast Asia, some created by female expatriates.
• A single female sends out mixed signals to the men in Southeast Asia. You may be a potential social problem.
To give you a clear understanding of what you will face as a woman working in Southeast Asia read the following Confucian inspired sayings:
• A woman’s duty is not to control or take charge.
• A woman ruler is like a hen crowing.
• The woman with no talent is the one who has merit.
• Woman’s greatest duty is to produce a son.
• Disorder is not sent down by Heaven, it is produced by women.
• Man is honored for strength: a woman is beautiful on account of her gentleness.
Guidelines for Female Executives
The number of businesswomen sent abroad by companies is slowly increasing and support groups have been established to deal with the various problems they are facing in Southeast Asia.
These networks are a good starting point when posted to Southeast Asia as their Southeast Asian and Western members are very willing to share experiences and give advice and you can find new friends soon. The following guidelines may be helpful:
• Find and join groups as soon as possible.
• Look for support from male and other female expatriate colleagues, but do not complain.
• Local male colleagues will treat you differently than their local female colleagues.
• Authorities in Southeast Asia are respected and dealt with in a very formal way. Use your female qualities rather than those shown by many task-driven Western male expatriates.
• Local colleagues like you to show interest and learn new things from them. Listen, rather than lecture.
• Learn the local language and use your new skills as often as possible.
• Show high competence in whatever you do.
• Be inclusive rather than directive.
• Do not act overly competitive.
• Avoid conflicts and emphasize harmony.
• Insist on adequate support from headquarters for a successful performance.
In most Southeast Asian countries expatriates enjoy certain privileges and many get so used to them during their expatriate life that they loathe to give them up.
Most of you will enjoy a social acceptance higher than the one they know at home, but, yes, there does exist a pecking order.
As a couple, you are normally judged by the rank that his/her job carries, which does imply who invites you and whom you should invite.
Research Your Target Country
Begin preparing yourself and your family by actively researching your intended host country’s:
• Geography (including climate).
• History and Culture.
• Political and Economic Situation.
• Legal and Financial Systems (laws, currency, taxation etc.).
Share your learning with those planning to come with you.