Multinational Growth Keeps Demand for Talents On the Up-and-Up

Global mobility managers will be happy to learn that, while many industries fret about unemployment and professional instability, they will not be out of a job any time soon. In fact, their market value is about to increase and their services will become more needed. One major reason for this demand is that multinationals are likewise increasing in number. And as they continue to place their corporate footprint on various parts of the globe, they will need assignees to lead, develop, and spearhead these new expansions.

Relocate Magazine examines this development further in its analysis of a recent report by global market research and consulting company Finaccord. Given all the news about economic fluctuations and the stock market uncertainty, it might come as a small shock to know that the report forecasts that multinational companies will grow to reach 14,000 in four years’ time. With that growth naturally comes staffing, manpower, and the assignment of management who are attuned to the head office’s objectives and aims. Assignees or expatriates are part of that management. As the global companies expand, more of them will be needed as well. Finaccord estimates that by 2021, the number of assignees in the world will amount to at least a million.

Finaccord points out that many of these multinationals and their assignees will set their sights on emerging markets in Asia. A Harvard Business Review article adds that the Middle East and Africa are also on their radar. And just to correct any perception that all the expansion is flowing from the United States to the other ends of the earth, other non-American companies are building several offices and branches in the US because it allows them access to the sizable number of customers in the States. Northern California, and San Francisco in particular, continue to attract investors and foreign business owners who want to set up shop in innovation hubs in the U.S.

What does this mean for the global mobility manager?

First of all, the forecast that one million assignees will soon be taking their posts in various countries mean that global mobility managers must prepare themselves for this increase. The numbers will rise, as more offices and branches are being built, and — regardless of what they might think is happening in their own corporate backyard — they have to prepare for this eventuality. Otherwise, they will risk getting left behind by their competitors. It might take a bit of planning and a bit of effort to convince their own executives, but small and steady steps are key to ensuring they do not miss out on this development.

Second, Finaccord says that this new generation of assignees will be more mobile than their predecessors, the so-called “traditional expatriates.” Following the business model that was prevalent from the 1960s to the middle 2000’s, traditional expatriates were often assigned to manage a global office for years. They grew roots in their country of employment and immersed themselves with the locals in order to understand how business in that particular global region is done, and then use that knowledge to make their companies grow. Expatriate assignments back then took years, with some of the star expatriates practically living in their assigned nations for a decade.

That business model no longer holds true today. The future one million assignees who will preside over tomorrow’s enterprises in 2021 will stay in their assigned offices for a shorter period of time. Many of them will only take one to two years before they are sent off on another assignment to another international office. A lot of these assignees will be younger than the traditional expatriates, more eager for international experience and intercultural exposure than having a corner office.

Some global mobility managers have asked if, in light of the recent changes, the very industry itself should undergo a rebranding. As they rethink how they must now manage their affairs in the new emerging business landscape, they might also reconsider if their assignees should undergo a similar “rebranding.” One thing is certain: things will change in less than a decade, and it’s multinational expansion that is doing the driving.