Bento Talks to Kathrine Boshkoff

Katharine Boshkoff is Vice President of Career Development and Alumni Relations for Hult. She has coached thousands of students to find career success in global markets. A former strategy consultant and professor, she is an expert in international labor markets, employment, and career path acceleration.

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The ABCs of becoming a global executive.

Bento: Do you see an influx of multinationals hiring local talent for their home markets?

Boshkoff: For developed economies, we see an interest in native language speakers with work rights. Related to emerging markets, employers are still looking for top talent from top MBA programs. Specifically, multinationals are especially keen for talent in emerging markets including India, areas of the Middle East, and Asia. For our graduates who are accepted in Leadership Development Programs, often they will do a rotation through an emerging market, either as preparation for executive development or as a way to bring global talent to a local market.

Bento: Of the hundreds of students that you work with every year, what percentage stay in their home country and how many choose to work elsewhere?

Boshkoff: The majority of our students consider work in another market. Some may return to their home market after a post-graduation job in the country where they graduate. Others seek permanent residency in a foreign country. With the US OPT visa option, our U.S.-educated students have the option to work for at least 12 months in this market, and most take advantage of this option.

Bento: What criteria have you found to be most important to recent MBA grads? Are job seekers from developed markets more or less willing to transfer to emerging markets, and vice versa?

Boshkoff: This is a great question and a complex one. We advise our students to balance their choice across three dimensions – focus on vertical industry, focus on a specific job, and focus on geography. We call this Plan A/B/C. For example in Plan A, an MBA may choose a geography because it is their primary goal – say, a student from Russia wants to live in the U.S. In this case, since geographic choice is the most important, the student might compromise on vertical industry.

Other students who keenly want to advance in a certain profession where competition is high may choose an emerging economy assignment, because often these jobs are in less demand. For example, a student who wants to accelerate their career in finance might take an assignment in India or accept a consulting position with a big four firm in this region as a path to a premier job in a developed economy. Additionally, some students take the long view on geography and take an assignment in an emerging economy because the careers in a high-growth market often offer tremendous growth.

Finally, students choose between emerging and developed economies purely on preference. Some students crave an emerging economy assignment, while others are firmly committed to staying in a developed economy. Generally, our students are already global citizens and they will often take a global job over a home market job that pays better. Perhaps it is generational, but students are very keen for international experience – whatever form it takes.

We still hear from our top employers that they can’t get enough top talent to work in emerging markets.

Bento: What about compensation for reverse expats? Are they getting paid at a global scale or still receiving traditional expat benefits (housing allowance, cost of living adjustments, school fees for children)? Are they willing to work without those benefits?

Boshkoff: The formula is really about supply and demand. We still see expat packages for specialty jobs in China and the Middle East. Interestingly, we even see expat packages for foreign talent recruited into the U.S. If you are very talented with skills in high demand such as data analytics, employers will pay, whether this is in the form of a generous salary and bonus or with additional perks. We always advise our students to look at the total compensation of the position when they are making a decision, and our most talented students have offers that include salary and bonus, housing, and potentially visa sponsorship. And yes, students will work without financial benefits if they are sufficiently determined to change geographies.

Bento: Have recent developments in the emerging markets [China, crisis in Brazil, India, etc.] shifted the emphasis on where people are looking for jobs?

Boshkoff: Yes. Hiring for expats in China has definitely slowed, and students see the lack of opportunities there. Europe has been sluggish for a while, whereas demand for talent is still strong in India.

Bento: Many emerging markets are struggling economically. Does that mean there is less demand for managers in these markets?

Boshkoff: We still hear from our top employers that they cannot get enough top talent to work in emerging markets.

Bento: Is obtaining an MBA abroad really necessary in today’s environment, where local talent can be well educated in their home market and have decent employment opportunities if they stay there?

Boshkoff: While there are some jobs for local talent in markets that are entirely local, the predominance of globalization in world economies is not going to change. MBAs need to be comfortable working in a multicultural international economy, whether they are participating from a Skype connection in a small town in their home country or from an international assignment in a foreign country.

What you achieve with an international MBA with an entirely international student population is a fluency and ease in performing analytic work and leadership in a global, multicultural work environment. Our employers tell us that they seek talent with superior interpersonal skills, and with the capability to work in teams (often globally distributed), problem-solve with little supervision, and drive business results. In a global economy, it is more important than ever before to acquire an international network of colleagues, be able to work on global teams, and master the analytical and problem-solving business challenges that may have a local footprint but will be increasingly subject to international trends and markets.