Two conversations this weekend reminded me about an earlier rant on this blog on the subject of career conservatism by people in our industry in Europe and the US and the fact that so few seem to want to go to work in developing markets. The first was with the boss, Richard Edelman, who is in Hong Kong and Shanghai and went sort of like this: “My god this place is just exploding . . . . we have so many great opportunities here and we are really only constrained by getting good people in . . . . jeez if I was in my late 20’s or early 30’s I’d be here in a shot”. OK, this is a bit of a job ad too (CV’s please to email@example.com), but I still maintain that if you want to get on in this business in the future, having global skills and experience will give you a big premium and that is going to mean having actually lived and worked outside of your own market for an extended period of time. The second conversation was with my old friend Tim Sutton who transferred from running Weber Shandwick’s European business to Hong Kong to run their Asia business just last month. His slightly more wistful message as he looked out at the South China Sea from his new home reminded me of how much I enjoyed being in a part of the world (I was in Asia for seven years . . so hence my bias perhaps) where your senses and emotional intelligence are challenged every day with new business and cultural experiences. It’s like being hot-housed as educationalists might have it. Someone once said ‘we don’t know what we don’t know’ and that sometimes makes us blind . . . . working and living abroad is the best way to open your eyes to be a truly global operator.
[tags] Working Abroad, Tim Sutton, Richard Edelman [/tags]
10 thoughts on “Go East Young Man (Or Woman) Part 2”
Which country, in your opinion, do you think has the most potential within the Asian market?
Obviously the big countries like China and India have seen huge growth and will continue to do so but do you think countries in Western Asia (Jordan, Qatar etc) have similar potential? Obviously not financially but in the progression of PR and the wider media.
A Jordanian girl I know wrote her masters dissertation on the PR industry in Jordan. Really interesting to read how far behind the country is compared to the Western world. There were some reports of PR people actually paying journalists to print their stories in the publication.
I wonder if social media has a lot of potential in these developing countries also? I assume with the proliferation of broadband, low cost PCs and mobile phones it will.
I interviewed a really smart Jordanian on the PR business there a while ago . . see here http://www.sixtysecondview.com//?p=48. Stephen if I was you at your stage of career I would be packing my suit now. China and India would be high on my list for obvious reasons, but then so would Dubai and Moscow. they all have different appeals and drawbacks. Easier options lifestyle-wise would be Singapore and Hong Kong where you would probably tend to work on regional rather than local business. But Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand would all see youworking at a pretty senior level on internatiional business much quicker than London. And you would travel more. As for social media, it is fast growing in importance in some of the developing markets so you won’t miss out. Korea is way ahead of the UK for example as is Japan in mobile. Stephen . . . . give me a call and get on your bike mate.
P.S. Good to meet you, albeit briefly, the other day
An epiphany for whom Jon?
Yes indeed on the brief meet. Hope to see you again.
For me, definitely!
Ha ha ha …. well I had the time of my life in Asia and would recommend it to anyone. Let me know if we can help!!
It’s interesting David. I was working at a big agency in the 90s and it was clear that Asia was going to be the land of future opportunity. So I put myself forward to go there on several occasions. However, I was told that I was too valuable to the European business. Which was nice to hear. However, it meant that my *home* billings success made foreign experience less likely. So I suppose my point is that it takes ambitious employers to unlock these opportunities – not just ambitious employees.
You are right James. Often the worst offenders of restricting the free movement of talent are the direct bosses . . they have most to lose and whilst they can see that the body coporate gains, their share of that gain is probably smaller than their loss. So that’s why you have to have a culture that prizes moving people or allowing them to move. One of the reasons I posted this blog (twice really) was for the internal affect within Edelman. I want to know when good people want to move and (whilst minimising the impact on the business they leave) will help them personally. I know that my agency years ago did not help me and so I left and did it myself. I remember how resentful I was of that and I guess that’s why I bang on about it.