Linkup & Learn panel discussion with Martina Koja, Verena Heingärtner, Nora Szücs, Victoria Williams, Amel Derragui, and moderator: Karin Schreiner
We extend huge thanks to our panelists Martina Koja, Nora Szücs, Victoria Williams, Verena Heingärtner, and - from afar - Amel Derragui, for their multifaceted and highly motivating advice on "Portable Careers". The topic of career and expatriation is a broad one: it includes self-initiated expatriation, international assignments and being a “trailing spouse” when accompanying ones partner.
Today, less and less women (and men) are willing to follow their partners since they tend to set up and continue their own careers. This has an impact on forms of expatriation: commuting within Europe, or short-term assignments.
Those who accompany their expatriate spouses or partners, are often “hidden champions”, since they tend to be highly-qualified but face difficulties in continuing their own professional career.
Women are still under-represented in international assignments. Research has shown that traditional gender roles are an important obstacle to overcome this imbalance.
In our panel discussion, we have addressed the following questions:
What makes women (and men) leaving their home base and look for an international career abroad?
Which challenges do female expatriates face abroad? How do companies support expat-relocation of their employees?
How can companies support accompanying spouses to continue their professional career?
How can spouses accompanying their partners make most of their expatriation and transform their experiences in knowledge and career opportunities?
“The Trailing Spouse” and the expat community – but what comes after networking and volunteering? Which challenges do expatriate spouses face to find a job?
The key messages were:
Have a plan!
Speak up and get it out of your system. Recharge and talk about things. Don't blame and complain. Find a solution.
You develop your own career and live your own life. Define yourself as yourself, not as the partner / wife / husband of Mr / Mrs X.
Don't be too hard on yourself. It is OK to sometimes spend a day on the sofa in pyjamas.
Make sure you are protected financially in case of divorce or death of your partner, and talk together about your plans beforehand.
We have amazing opportunities in the digital age to create careers that are not necessarily linked only to our local surroundings, and slowly companies are realising the importance of offering support for "trailing spouses/partners". Where that support isn't given, networking is the way forward.