Mobile talent

Sometimes we read a little outside of the box. And that can be in areas adjacent to the central theme of our blog – journeys & memories. This one came from reading up about the latest in deploying talent and about mobility.

You know all that hype about leaving your job and traveling the world? We have written about it here, here and here. But with the travails of leaving your job and experiencing a gap in your resume, are there real alternatives?

The Airbnb tagline goes “don’t travel to —, go live in —“.

If only such an arrangement can be made for work! I mean, wouldn’t it be nice to have skill sets and jobs that can see you being moved across the world as required? Short term assignments that let you live in a location for say a few months or even a year (or two). Work with locals, experience the cultural differences and make a journey or two while you’re at it.

Let’s add this up.

  • You’ll have the security of a full-time role
  • The employer will help you move to the next location
  • It’s not a drag and drop, and you’re stuck thingy
  • Your employment benefits are maintained
  • Contribution for pension/retirement can continue uninterrupted
  • You clock time with an employer

OMG. Is this for real?

Well, yes in our humble opinion (IOHO). In the Asia Pacific where growing and enhancing local talent is on the rise, such opportunities are growing exponentially. Unless the non local (read foreign) talents are rooted in their host country, their experience, skills and knowledge leave with them eventually. Organization development-wise, this can be a significant leakage after investing so much into that human capital.

Perhaps if you work for an organization that is truly global in its outreach (eg some of the large consultant firms), this will be perfect. We have come across numerous such folks on assignments for 3-4 months based in Singapore. While here, they enjoy the launch pad that Singapore affords them to so much of Southeast Asia falling within a 3-hour flight.

But it does not have to only be large corporates. Smaller outfits can and do offer similar opportunities too. Wouldn’t that be better than quitting the job?

Author: Mel & Suan

Mel works his day job for a living, but lives for antiquities, history and geography at all other times. He enjoys writing and thought sharing and obviously traveling. Suan is a homey person, who like girlie stuff such as cross stitching etc. Enjoys shopping & modeling for Mel. What a match!

26 thoughts on “Mobile talent”

  1. The comments here do not seem to address the issue described in the post; being able to work anywhere in the world on maybe short term assignments with all of ones benefits maintained. Having gap years (I had mine when I was 55) or a short business trip to another country, or giving up ones job to go and work in another country do NOT address the utopian dream of 100% choice nor of the reality of most human desires related to career, family, security, etc. As an employed organisation psychologist I worked in the U.K., South Africa, and the US. As a self employed psychologist I took assignments around Europe, the US and the Gulf States. But I was always bound by things like work permits, visas, local laws and customs wrapped around my specialist knowledge for example.
    As an individual we all make choices such as going to university or not, building a career or doing a job, investing for the future or spending for today. But in many cases we have no choice at all because of borders, conflict, political and cultural differences, and opportunity. In our case we chose to build careers and wealth which we now enjoy travelling the world. It’s the old adage “if you really want something then work hard for it, not everything can be bought on limitless credit”. If you want to travel then go for it, but recognise the trade offs that may have to be made.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely. And nothing on this post or blog will ever address this topic. In the last 30 years or so, a wave of globalization occured which broke down some barriers (permits, borders etc) but not all of them. Hence back in the day the ones who determined to travel were less. And with the globalization came more of these folks. Its probably more of a matter of being the right time.
      The emerging sharing economy has been touted as a way in which individuals can gain access to the mobility of work. It’s in a nascent stage which we need to observe.
      Ultimately, there is no free lunch – hence a limitless credit card would indeed be utopian!


  2. My first graduate job was with a big international company and I had assignments in Moscow, Africa, Romania, Hungary and most of Western Europe.. but if I’m a honest I was working so much I didn’t take full advantage of living abroad.. and the locations weren’t always my choice although I did have some say…

    I think what’s key is not only being able to work abroad, but will you have some free time?, how integrated is your company with local culture? The company I worked for you could barely tell where you were from inside the office..

    I think there are two realistic options for me now… one is what I’m doing last few years.. work hard for six months on freelance basis and then spend six months travelling or studying my interests.. this options involves a worrying lack of savings lol..

    The other is learn a skill set that can be location independent, I’m trying to learn graphic design to move into as I get older…

    Relying on being employed in different locations I don’t think will work as it limits my choice of countries to those where the businesses use English or other language I know… this year I tried to find a contract role in South Korea, but it’s really difficult without speaking fluent Korean…

    I do hope there is a continuing trend of opportunities to work on a location free basis, I also hope companies start to move to three or four day work weeks…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head! Indeed the right skillset is the key. In today’s world there are few of these but it will increase. It is all part of the wave of creative destruction. Being able to identify such areas is the competitive advantage. We can’t advise on this blog but keep looking!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is almost a definite with the huge corporates and consulting firms but especially in IT, I think. Some Filipinos have worked here in South Africa for a few months or so then they get moved to the US, etc. It’s good for when you’re younger without a partner who has a full time job he/she can’t leave and when there are no kids yet.

    Flight attendants should have the advantage here – they go everywhere, they have so much down time and they don’t have to pay for the travel and they stay with the same one airline. My friend who works for Cathay, for 25 years already, is supposed to be based in HK but she’s more often in Manila when not flying and when she flies to Johannesburg, she has at least 2 to 3 days here. I think they are on duty for like 20 days but those 20 days include chilling in the destination country on long flights.

    And as you said, you need a trust fund set up by your rich parents then you can truly up and go and be a travel blogger or whatever full time.

    For the majority of us, we work and we do our best to travel as much as we can… until I get that business right and I can be wherever I feel like and attend to the thriving business from wherever I am. Lol! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL we have similar friends. A married couple who are flight attendants for the last 20+ years too! And they manage to get the airline to fly them on the same routes. Sweet!
      For us, we do buy the lottery every month. So who knows? When we really stop blogging for a few weeks then that could be the clue! LOL

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Back in the day (*way* back in the day!), I moved around the country, the US, to different jobs with different agencies within the Federal Civil Service system. I kept all my benefits and service credits towards retirement, etc. This way I got to live on both the East and West coasts and really experience the different aspects and lifestyles inherent in them. Finally, I settled down in my “home” area in the Midwestern US, once again working largely in a civil service capacity, this time for the State of Ohio.

    But my real opportunities took place after my early retirement, at age 50. I was able to live twice in Turkey and to travel for extended periods of time in Italy, Mexico, the US and Canada. This spring I will be going to Iceland! Just as a tourist, but I am STOKED! The only thing about retirement is that you have lots of time but not so much money. On the other hand, while you’re working you have money, but no time. A real conundrum, which I solved when I was younger by working in the federal civil service system here in the US.

    Good luck to you, Mel & Suan, in solving this puzzle. I’m sure you will do it! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow that is fantastic! Well, we were privileged to have moved around the world in our younger days. And it was in the start of our careers too. At this juncture we are happy to be back in the home country and do all the travelling from here through what we stole with pride : “bliesure”, that is to combine business and pleasure. Well business first!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I see it (quitting it all and travelling instead) a lot as well and from what I see, it is much a fascination with a life style, constant adventure, creativity (taking photos, writing posts, Instagramming, V-blogging about it…) as it is Love for travelling. Getting constant impressions is a joy to the brain, it is fascinating. And it is also delusional because it allows you to park the real life – with its boring imperatives of a job, running a household, being an adult, having responsibilities, on hold. People who live it romanticize it a lot, but at some point (say, after a year break between the educational terms that EU guys often take), it is an escape from reality.

    I work in a company that, if you work hard, allows you to work from virtually anywhere in the world. It is not an easy job, sometimes up to 12+ hours a day, and took me a lot to get there. I would probably love to travel full time. But then, you are not building anything this way, instead of a great adventure you will always remember, of course, and when it is time to move to other stages of life development, you are sort of left out of options.

    I would definitely love to do that when I retire though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have A LOT of opinions on this topics and most of it would probably not be appropriate to discuss here. It is interesting to observe a few things:
      1. Traveling full time can be a chore. Between writing and we mean serious writing, how do you keep going. Wifi is not going to be your biggest problem. Mel works around the world and have to connect to VPN (probably like you) to work and run calls. Very challenging.
      2. Unless you have an endowment fund waiting for you, it takes real money no matter if one stays only in hostel and backpacks. Bank of mom and dad could be tapped out.
      3. You grow old too like everyone else. And as you do it becomes imperative to prepare for a time when you cannot work. Some call it retirement but its really about making sure you don’t die old, sick and penniless. Nobody owes you a living.
      4. We are not sure how you discover yourself while ‘traveling’. If you hadn’t done so by the early 20s, IOHO you’re almost toast. Perhaps there are really LATE bloomers.
      These are just 4 short opinions. There are many many more.
      A gap year’s actually fine to us. But those that quit jobs because they hate theirs is merely swapping one bad master for another. They will find out sooner or later (re point 3).
      Appears you’re doing absolutely what we did and we hope you continue on that! We were the lucky ones some 2 decades+ back and would not change a thing if we have to re-live all over again!

      Liked by 1 person

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