Last week, the Wall Street Journal did a great article on the decreasing role of expatriates being used to fill overseas positions in Asia. The article reminded me of a past posting of mine, The Real Deal on Working in China: Wang & Li’s “Opportunities in China”. I thought this framing was particularly insightful and interesting:
To help companies fill Asia-based executive roles, at least two search firms—Spencer Stuart and Korn/Ferry International—say they have begun classifying executives in four broad categories:
- Asia natives steeped in local culture but educated in the U.S. or Europe;
- the foreigner who has lived or worked in Asia for a long time;
- a person of Asian descent who was born or raised in a Western country but has had little exposure to Asia;
- and the local Asian executive who has no Western experience.
The person of Asian descent who was born or raised in a Western country but has had little exposure to Asia probably describes me the best. My Mandarin is barely good enough to get by in casual conversations. I’m sure if I lived in China or Taiwan, I’m sure my Mandarin would get a whole lot better. But there is also a lot more competition these days if I wanted to find a job in Asia. There are more and more local talent in Asia studying abroad and returning back to Asia. Definitely do your research if you’re thinking of trying to find a job in Asia.