Alan Freeman – LOF International HR Solutions
We are frequently asked this question either by relatively new entrants to the HR profession or by purely domestic practitioners who have been assigned international responsibilities for the first time. In the latter case, there often is an element of panic in that the individual’s management expects top-notch global HR capabilities “yesterday”!
Fortunately, there are a variety of ways to acquire global knowledge and capabilities. For example:
We believe that to truly advance in a global HR career, both Bachelor’s and post-graduate degrees in business and Human Resources form a necessary foundation. The University of Minnesota, Cornell University, and the University of Illinois offer excellent HR programs. Thunderbird, INSEAD, Cranfield University and the University of Southern California (IBEAR) offer global MBA programs of note. There are many more.
Additionally, many Universities and professional organizations offer classes, sometimes through their “Extension” programs, in various areas of global HR. These can be well worth checking into.
On The Job Experience
There is nothing like hands-on experience. One should seek out positions involving global responsibilities and volunteer for international projects, work teams and task force activities whenever possible. They also should get involved with business leaders who have global responsibility and shadow them and assist however possible. If an opportunity to live and work abroad presents itself, go for it! No, do more than that. Strive to secure an international assignment!
Many professional organizations now offer extensive global activities and resources. Join them and participate in their global HR offerings! Some are open to any and all applicants; some are by invitation only and sometimes dedicated strictly to specific industries. One of the first-best avenues is to become a member of your country’s national HR Association, such as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) in the US or the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Personalführung eV (DGFP) in Germany. These organizations, in turn, are members of the World Federation of Personnel Management Associations (WFPMA). Attend both your country’s association events and WFPMA conferences.
Professional Certification Programs
A number of professional organizations have established certifications such as the SHRM “Global Professional in Human Resources”, the World at Work “Global Remuneration Professional” and the ERC Worldwide “Global Mobility Specialist”. These can be quite useful and we’d encourage the reader to pursue certification.
One can learn a great deal from a personal mentor. Some argue that mentorship is critical for success. Establish relationships with successful global business leaders, both within HR and in other disciplines, and ask them to be mentors. Heed their teachings and counsel.
Conferences, Seminars and Webinars
There are many professional conferences and seminars available literally all over the world and they are often highly educational AND help one expand their professional network. Attend whenever possible!
A few examples include:
- SHRM Global Conference
- Big 4 tax firm conferences
- Major consulting firm conferences
- ERC Worldwide Global Workforce Symposiums – regional and global events
- IBIS conferences and “institute”
Consulting Firms’ Reports and Data Products
A wide variety of useful information is available for purchase from major consulting houses. This is typically most useful for gaining knowledge relevant to practices in specific countries and regions. It is almost invariably quite expensive.
A wealth of professional books, journals, magazines and newsletters are available and well worth the acquisition price and time to read. Much is available through the SHRM and World at Work bookstores, and from other outlets such as Amazon.com. A very short list of useful materials includes:
Periodicals & Newsletters
- “Benefits and Compensation International”
- “International HR Journal”
- Baker & McKenzie “Global Employer”
- Law firm newsletters, e.g. White & Case
- Immigration firms’ newsletters
Some Useful Books
- The Global Challenge, Evans, Pucik & Barsoux
- Strategic International Human Resources Management, Perkins & Shortland
- International Human Resource Management, Briscoe & Schuler
- Managing a Global Workforce, Vance & Paik
- International Human Resources Guide, Roger Herod, ed.
- International Human Resource Management, Dowling & Welch
- Readings and Cases in International Human Resource Management, Mendenhall & Oddou
Finally, how could we not mention what’s available on the Internet? My first comment is “caveat emptor”! Some of the information available on the web can be quite accurate and useful, some not so much. One must be very careful in taking the source into consideration and evaluating the quality of the input obtained. The ability to make such evaluations, of course, takes us back to working through the list above.
As with any blog commentary, we’ve only begun to scratch the surface on the possibilities. We invite all readers to share their comments and suggestions as well. Let’s hear from you!