Employers are scared of returning expats. It’s a topic well discussed throughout the Kea community, where Kiwis in executive-level roles overseas come back to a marketplace often timid of their international experience. Don Jaine, partner at executive search company Seqel, says finding great roles for expats comes from building the right network and attitude.
Seqel not only recognise but champion the business acumen and global mindset expats have. Having recently found Geraldine McBride and Derek Handley (both members of Kea’s World Class New Zealand network) for Sky TV’s board, Don says Seqel is always hunting for offshore Kiwis who want to come home.
“Sky TV had a senior, capable board but wanted people in the new media space. Both Geraldine and Derek have provided really different ways of thinking. Having been brought on to challenge the board to think in new and different ways, they created a healthy dialogue of discussion, and we couldn’t be happier with the result.”
Sky TV is Derek Handley’s first major board appointment in New Zealand, and Geraldine McBride’s appointment led to her becoming a board member for the National Australia Bank. For many expats it’s not necessarily about returning home; it’s about finding new ways to help New Zealand organisations while based offshore.
“Domestically we know nearly everybody in the senior board appointment marketplace,” Don says. “In terms of expats, we’re interested to know if they’re returning home or committed to attending board meetings in New Zealand one way or the other.”
Kea’s 2013 Every Kiwi Counts survey showed career ambitions was the biggest drive for Kiwis heading overseas with over 30% of people looking for offshore opportunities. With expats now older and overseas longer, those contemplating returning are in higher positions than a decade ago. Half of them are earning over NZ$100,000 annually, and less are coming home (excluding the recent influx of ‘repats’ from Australia).
While those surveyed thoughts prospects back home aren’t great, half are still sure their future is in New Zealand. Around 40% think they’ll be home within the next five years, and according to Don New Zealand’s booming tech scene is encouraging that.
“As we create more businesses which are globally oriented, particularly in the tech space, the greater need there is for people with global experience. The value expats provide is a global perspective and an understanding of what’s happening on the ground.”