Experienced Expat Offers Tips on Global Mobility

How can students prepare for today’s global business environment? Just ask Stacy Waite, founder and chief success officer of Positive Return, a global development training company specializing in presentations, global business protocol, multi-cultural communication and business travel.

Stacy dropped by the LMU campus and spoke to 17 senior management and entrepreneurship majors in Dr. Charlie Vance’s “Managing a Global Workforce” class. A major theme of the course is that international field experience is the most effective approach for building global competencies. Having lived and worked in the Middle East, North Africa and Australia (and visited over 50 countries), Stacy shared her past experiences as an expatriate and lessons learned for successful international assignments. One key takeaway is that some companies are better at expat training than others.

“The workforce is very global now,” said Stacy. “Companies have a responsibility to prepare their workers for the country they are about to enter and get them there safely.”

International Assignment Demographics*

  • 86% are 30-60 years old
  • 80% male, 20% female
  • 78% have an accompanying spouse/partner
  • 47% have accompanying children
  • 5% spouse/partner employed during assignment (compared to 50% before assignment)

* Statistics provided by Brookfield Global Relocation Services

Top Reasons to Seek/Begin Expat Assignments

  • Career stability or growth
  • Financial
  • Escape or change of environment
  • Desire for challenges (cultural, language, etc.)

Interestingly, the top reasons to end an expat assignment sound all too familiar: career stability or growth, financial, tired of challenges, medical problems/costs and family adjustment issues. Stacy says that people will work for an average of seven companies over the span of their careers. One question she challenged students with is: How can companies keep employees from leaving?

Originally from Long Island, Stacy’s father worked in international sales so she was exposed to other countries at an early age. Her impressive background includes being the first woman (and youngest person) to launch a Wall Street hedge fund and working for some of the world’s leading companies such as Credit Suisse and Ericsson. Stacy says there are risks to being a global businesswoman. For example, she was a high-value kidnapping target for two years in a North African country. She lived with diplomatic security and around the clock bodyguards and was trained in counter intelligence and shoot-to-kill measures.

By sharing her life and career experiences, Stacy hopes to teach and inspire the next generation of international workers to better understand how to operate in a global business environment.

“The global workforce has drastically changed, you can do so much more now,” said Stacy. “My advice is to develop your communications skills and get to know people as people. Get outside of your box and you’ll be amazed at what will happen.”