Casting Call

The challenges of finding IT leaders to handle localization in far-flung regions.

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Given the limitations of finding enough expatriates willing to relocate and the expense of luring them abroad, many corporations are looking within for rising stars who might excel in foreign leadership posts. "I would advise corporations to try to grow as many of these executives as possible internally. There are many areas around the world that are growing so fast, and companies need to have people ready to step in," says Boehme. Grooming international talent from within is a major strategy at ING North America Insurance Corp. in Atlanta. "We start a selection process by looking at a talent pool of individuals identified as high performers and screen their current and past performance, looking for early leadership indicators," says Jairo Orea, head of regional enterprise information integration at the company's office in Hartford, Conn.

Once identified, junior ING executives are transferred to international posts, where their management skills are carefully forged, Orea says. "There are many cultural changes you encounter when you start work on international assignments. These can create behavioral barriers. We have to give people time to digest the changes and coach them through successfully overcoming these barriers in order for them to excel in their initiatives," he says.

Indeed, more companies are realizing that once IT executives have matured through an initial tour of duty, many will be ready to take on leadership roles abroad, says Minevich. "Companies are leveraging long-term international assignments and then deploying those professionals full-time in emerging market locations," he says.

Molding global leaders by sending them abroad for extended periods of time is a strategy many corporations cited in a recent survey by The Conference Board Inc., a New York-based nonprofit research organization. Specifically, the most effective businesses use two-to-three-year rotations abroad to develop global leaders, who then move on to important posts abroad or participate heavily in identifying expatriate talent to head up these crucial positions, according to the Conference Board's December 2005 poll.

Whether groomed internally or plucked from the growing number of expatriates eyeing international jobs, the choice of a senior IT leader to dispatch abroad is critical.

Consider the CIO in New Delhi shuffling resumes on the New York conference call. "The hiring manager needs to understand the country he or she is working in. Without understanding the culture completely, you can easily be sold a bill of goods - resumes that dazzle. Often they are flashy because they are credentials a person has gotten from someplace else," notes Christian & Timbers' Ramakrishnan. However, because dazzling resumes don't guarantee a sound IT group, corporate officials are wise to take their time searching and carefully consider potential candidates to lead teams abroad.



The seven most effective practices for developing global business leaders:

1. Longer-term international assignments 2. International cross-functional team participation 3. Internal management/executive development programs 4. Developing global management teams 5. Mentoring and/or coaching 6. International leader development centers 7. 360-degree feedback

BASE: Survey of 81 corporations worldwide

SOURCE: The Conference Board Inc., New York, December 2005

McAdams is a freelance writer in Vienna, Va. Contact her at

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Navigating Global IT

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.

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