18th Oct 2011

The Unique Challenges of Relocation Abroad

Your driving licence has expired and you need to get passport photographs. After 15 minutes online locating the closest photo shop, an eight minute walk to the underground, a 10 minute journey, a quick march (initially down the wrong street), you eventually arrive at the shop. To find it closed. Closed! At 3:15pm on a Wednesday afternoon?

You live in Madrid now, and it is siesta time. “Rookie mistake!” is what your colleagues would retort with a smirk. If you ever told them, which you certainly will not.

The simplest tasks are often rendered gargantuan when you find yourself residing in a foreign country.

When we are in our early 20s the unknown is often a cause of delight, exaltation and excitement. Landing in a new city with no job, no place to live, no money and no plan – apart from the plan to have no plan – is exhilarating. Many have by this time nurtured an ability to find casual work within a day, through serendipitous meetings with strangers on buses/trains/park benches.

When you are the recently relocated HR Director of a financial services company, with a young family in tow, the situation is considerably different. You have a job, you have a place to live, you have money. But the cultural, business and personal challenges you face are distinct, and there is much more at stake. While as a 21 year old stripling ‘preparation’ is merely a myth of the distant future, as a 42 year old director it is crucial.

Time is valuable when you relocate abroad. Typically, as an international appointee you will have a two year tenure; wasting time is not an option. For someone who is committed to success it is imperative to hit the ground running. Getting lost on the way to the shop is one thing, making avoidable mistakes in the corporate environment is quite another.

It is entirely understandable that distractions and worries will abound. Relocating a family, whilst trying to maintain routine for the benefit of small children is a demanding task. As is keenly observing the intricacies of the unfamiliar mores of your new home town. Starting a new job whilst tending to these concerns is extremely challenging.

Acknowledging the need, and facilitating your own ability to maintain focus during such a demanding time is fundamental to your continued performance acceleration in the business world.

What if you had a ‘companion of the journey’? A guide to help you through the first 100 days? Someone endowed with the ability to predict the challenges, obstacles and adversities you will encounter before they even become apparent? A consultant with specific expertise in this area to assist and ensure priorities are straight, correct and maintained? What a dream!

International Assist, a unique programme designed  by First100 to assist international appointees in their first 100 days in a new role abroad, is available now.

Hilda Goold



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