Abel Hisken

Early on in my career, working abroad was one of my targets.  I never refused a chance offered to me. Being functionally responsible for operations on all continents. Pension in the USA, how does that work? Searching and employing a General Manager in Turkey. Establish an educational institute in Mongolia. Support an international merger from a German perspective. Training for airplane maintenance engineers in French speaking Belgium. Hiring within half a year 5.000 staff of different nationalities in Saudi Arabia. That also taught me what Indians are good at, the Egyptians, people from the Philippines, the Nepali etc. One could say, that every country has its own specialty.

And, which compensation and benefits apply when you go abroad as expat? Home based? Host based? A mix of both? And what about taxes, purchasing power, pension and social security? And then I was sent abroad myself. It happened 7 times, to 7 different nations, in- and outside the EU. Only then the real interest started to take shape in other cultures. Not only in respect of local living conditions and how to adapt, but especially also in characteristics of organizations in those countries where I worked. Know how to speak your languages, but also the will to go again into the labor market, labor laws, organization/management and HR systems in those countries with great depth.

And getting to know the behavior of people in another country and how people of different cultures cooperate. Learning from research in this area has certainly helped me, with a special thanks to Dr Geert Hofstede, whom I still come across in the local greengrocer so now and then. I was honored to carry over his knowledge and wisdom at various management seminars in the companies I have worked for. Then, more transparency arises how problems in the communication between different nationalities can be interpreted and handled.

The international arena has taught me to put into perspective how as a Dutchman I look at things. It also gave me the sense that I am able to contribute to the development of organizations and people in developing nations. That requires, but also gives back energy, which I consider top of the bill.