Why should you work in an international company
Published in Leadership and Soft Skills.
Article is based on the 2014 interview with now President of the World Bank Ajay Banga conducted by Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Here are some potential reasons why someone might choose to work in an international company:
Competitive salaries and benefits. International companies often offer competitive salaries and benefits packages to attract top talent.
“When we were graduating, multi-national corporations like Nestle, like Unilever, were places to work in of great attraction.
Getting in was not easy because everybody in the class would apply to these few jobs that were available, and they were very competitive.”
Learning opportunities. International companies often offer language training, leadership development, international assignments, mentorship programs, and other professional development opportunities to their employees.
“They were terrific for learning the business. They were great for understanding the culture of a company that operated across the world. They were great for comprehending the concept of high-quality products, of high ethics in how you work.
And all of us looked up to those companies as where you wanted to be. Because you would learn the things that you needed to learn in your early years of working life. … Nestle was a very attractive learning place, with lots of strengths and attributes that I still think the company has. That’s how I ended up there.”
International companies often have structured training and development programs for their employees. These programs can help you develop new skills, gain new knowledge, and enhance your career prospects.
“It’s part of what I’ve tried to build with all the recruitment programs we run here as well as in Citigroup without a chance to influence the kind of program. Is I tried and build the chance for people to go across the company in different places, geographically, functionally, opportunity wise, so that they don’t get stuck from where they joined is where they’re going to be.”
Depending on your role, working in an international company may offer opportunities to travel to different parts of the world for work.
“But the really attractive part about Nestle was that you were able to move in different parts of the company very quickly. It was part of why I went there.”
Global exposure. Working in an international company can provide you with a unique opportunity to gain exposure in multiple industries and functions, work with people from different cultures and backgrounds. This can broaden your perspective and help you develop a more global mindset.
“And I think that’s a big part of what Nestle did for me. They took me into sales. They took me into marketing. They took me into factories. They took me into product management. Took me to running a region and gave me the chance to work on changing the entire inventory system of the Indian company and to manage inventory and working capital better.
Things that I don’t know, but a lot of our company would have given me that breadth and depth of knowledge, and I’ve lived in all parts of India, as I said, this is the one time you got paid to travel. Not the most attractive places, but you’re paid to travel.”
Working in an international company you engage with more experienced people with different skills and approaches.
“I was a young MBA entering a company which traditionally had been run by people who had grown up there from being a sales rep all the way to being the boss.
And, you know I was among the first few groups of new MBAs to come in. And therefore, there was always the resentment about these young kids who would learn from me and then come back in a six months’ time, green behind the ears, and then you would have to be listening to this kid tell me how to do my business.
And I learnt that that’s the worst way to start your relationship with this company. Instead, if you take the approach that you can learn from everybody, because we’ve all got something to teach you. And then you can bring the value you bring. But you got to learn from everybody. It changes everything.”
Networking. Working in an international company can provide you with a vast network of contacts across different industries and countries. This can be valuable for future career opportunities or business ventures.
“I’d say that Nestle taught me a lot of things. The guy, I still say that the guy was the managing director of Nestle when I joined, many levels above me, a guy called Barry Rhine. He’s still one of the people I’ve learned the most from. And I think people make the difference, not just companies. That one individual can make a difference and Barry Rhine made a difference to Nestle. He was there when I joined.
Aside from the company’s commitment to quality and ethics and standards, his view was, never take no for an answer. There is always a way to get to the right solution. If you apply your mind, don’t take the hurdles that come in your way as the reason why you’d move around them or give up or as in India they say, jugar. Jugar means you adjust for everything. He said don’t do that, that’s the wrong way to do business. Go for it. Never take no for an answer.”
Impact. International companies often have a global reach and can have a significant impact on society. Working for such a company can provide you with the opportunity to contribute to meaningful projects that make a difference on a global scale.
“And the second thing that he taught me, which I think was tremendous, was that you’re one added, you’re one person, but you’re one person you can make the difference.
If you have the energy and the passion to drive it in to action, and if you know how to communicate well, which by the way is the most underrated attribute when you’re young, but the most important attribute as you grow, is your communication. And if you can do those two things well, then there’s a whole new world out there.
And I think Nestle taught me that really, really, well thanks to him.”
Career growth. International companies often have a wider range of opportunities for career growth and development. You may have the chance to work on projects in different countries, take on leadership roles, or learn new skills.
“At Citi, I did everything from joining in marketing in India to running the region, Central Europe, Middle East, Africa, to coming to the U.S. to run the lending business, then the consumer business. Then I became the chair of the Global Consumer Business. Then I moved to Asia, where I ran every one of the businesses in Asia through the financial crisis actually, and then left and came here. And each time its been something to do with my mind feeling that I have more to give and more to do, but maybe not where I was.”
After all, working in the international companies present great opportunities if you are willing to accept the cons such as bureaucracy, often limited innovation and less flexible work arrangements.