Embracing International Assignments for Career Advancement

June 22, 2023


In today’s globalised world, where borders are blurred and connectivity is seamless, executives with international experience have become highly sought after by manufacturing clients worldwide. The ever-increasing mobility of talent has made it crucial for aspiring leaders to embrace international opportunities or seize them when they arise.

Embracing Global Responsibility

When it comes to selecting leaders responsible for global functions or businesses, the candidate who has successfully completed overseas assignments often takes the lead. The ability to adapt and thrive in diverse cultures showcases an executive’s adaptability and flexibility, qualities highly valued in today’s global business landscape. International exposure provides executives with invaluable experiences, enabling them to understand different markets, navigate complex cultural nuances, and make well-informed strategic decisions.

Key Scenarios to Consider

Executives aspiring to advance their careers should proactively express their openness to overseas assignments within their organisations. By making their ambitions known, they can demonstrate a willingness to step outside their comfort zones and contribute to the success of international ventures. It is important to keep an open mind when it comes to the potential locations of these assignments. While Paris and Tokyo might be the dream destinations, being willing to pay one’s dues in other locations can be equally rewarding and instrumental in gaining valuable experience.

Numerous areas within organisations offer rich opportunities for international exposure. Whether it is in supply chain management, plant operations, quality assurance, customer service, or project management, each function presents unique challenges and learning experiences in diverse cultural contexts. Executives should actively seek out these opportunities to broaden their skill sets and expand their global perspective.

Volunteering for International Ventures

When organisations contemplate establishing a presence in new overseas locations, executives should step forward and volunteer to lead or be part of the team driving these initiatives. Taking on such responsibilities not only demonstrates a proactive attitude but also positions individuals at the forefront of organisational growth and expansion. In these roles, executives have the chance to showcase their leadership abilities, build cross-cultural networks, and gain hands-on experience in managing complex international projects.

Seizing Opportunities Early

Executives considering international assignments should embrace these opportunities as early as possible in their careers. As life progresses, responsibilities often multiply, and the ability to embark on international assignments may become more challenging. Commitments to family, such as raising children or caring for aging parents, can make it increasingly difficult to pursue global experiences. By checking the “international experience” box on their resumes early on, executives open doors to a world of growth and advancement in an ever-expanding global business landscape.


In a world where global connectivity continues to shape the business landscape, executive search and leadership development must adapt to meet the demands of this new era. Embracing international experience has become a defining factor for aspiring leaders, offering unparalleled insights and skills required to navigate diverse markets successfully. By being open to overseas assignments, demonstrating adaptability, and seizing international opportunities, executives can position themselves as invaluable assets in an increasingly globalised business world, poised to make a lasting impact on their organisations.

This article explores themes and concepts from content by John O. Burdett.

John O. Burdett is founder of Orxestra® Inc. He has extensive international experience as a senior executive. As a consultant he has worked in more than 40 countries for organisations that are household names. John has worked on organisation culture for some of the world’s largest organisations. His ongoing partnership with TRANSEARCH International means that his thought leading intellectual property, in any one year, supports talent management in many hundreds of organisations around the world. Get in touch with John O. Burdett »

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