Can Silicon Valley Make the Perennial Millennial Globetrotter Stay Put?

The face of the global assignee has been getting younger and younger over the years. Not only that, they are getting top or senior positions earlier than most other expats with decades of experience. By younger, even twentysomething millennials and Gen-Z siblings are getting a piece of the action while waiting in the wings for senior positions with their seniors in their thirties and early forties.

The world has become smaller for these young people, thanks to the internet and how it opened up once mysterious worlds or unexplored paths. It helps that they have less ties to their home such as property and other related obligations, so they can be more mobile  and open to varied experiences and opportunities that allow them to take on more challenges and yes, get senior positions.

This growing trend is not surprising given the preoccupation of young people these days toward technology, which gives them the upper hand, especially in Silicon Valley where companies are looking for advanced tech skills and next big unicorn to build and young people are anxious to make their mark early, wherever this may lead them.

While the more senior leaders in the company may balk at their relative lack of experience, their proponents on the other hand defend them by saying that millennial assignees learn on their feet fast. Investors are also willing to fund young ambitious people. Well, if one make them stay put as well.

Learn Light reports that the big difference between the young global assignee and the experienced executive expatriate is the former’s desire for continuous travel, continuous because companies in Silicon Valley also tend to offer short contracts, which begs the question: Did the chicken come before the egg?

Did companies really offer short assignments because the younger assignees prefer it that way, or it was primarily a cost-saving decision? In many companies around San Jose, it is common to hear short contracts (6 months to 12 months). The attraction for younger people may be the fact that there is no long-term commitment to stay put.

This behavior contrasts sharply with the expatriate executive a generation ago who enters their new country of employment with the objective of settling down for at least five years. If the expat seeks to build a legacy in their new home, the modern global assignee thrives in networking with the many international colleagues they get to know as they hop from one region to another.

Not surprisingly, the modern assignee is a tech-savvy digital citizen, who can handle their social media conversations with the same dexterity as their multiple international assignments. Some younger assignees have fewer demands from hiring companies.

Besides, lightning-speed internet, a dozen social media platforms, webinars, video clips, and various smart devices are as common and familiar to them as their wallet and passport. Traveling without any of these tools would be simply horrifying to them. In contrast, working in the tech hubs in Northern California would be a dream come true.

Finally, diversity and inclusion are regarded as sacred non-negotiable corporate values by the new global assignee.

As pointed out by Relocate Magazine, the traditional image  of the fiftysomething white male who is usually accompanied by a non-working wife has been replaced by a crowd of twentysomething professionals who come from various genders, ethnicities, and cultures. They may be headed to senior positions early. If so, it won’t be surprising if they finally plant roots. That would not be hard to imagine in Silicon Valley.

And in some cases, those short-term contracts do extend, anyway.