Webinar on‘Fostering global mindset and cosmopolitanism’
"There is no box to think inside or outside” said, a Regional Manager of Specsavers based in London, Sujith Weerasinghe in the panel discussion organised by the 2019/ 2021 MBA in International Business batch of the University of Colombo.
The panel discussion probed challenges of expatriate assignments in the present global scenario and how developing a global mindset would be important in this set up. The other panelist was a Director at Specsavers, David Brett Williams. He is an author, a mentor, an executive business coach who has guided many business personnel.
Manager Sales Administration at UTE (Pvt) Ltd, Yasas Hapugoda moderated the webinar - The discussion was rich in personal real-life experiences and gave profound insight and admirable wisdom. Opening the webinar, Weerasinghe said youngsters must be careful when deciding to take a self-initiated expatriate assignment. As it depends on one’s personal goals, attributes, and what one intends to achieve in the long run. Discussing about corporate expatriates, Williams said multinational companies tend to recruit more expatriates rather than local employees from the host country, as it helps to grow the business fast while strengthening the capacities of employees. It has been proved that an expatriate assignment shows massive positive impact on an employee’s career.
It creates better job satisfaction, higher incomes and provides opportunities for employees to handle larger cross-cultural global teams, and creates engaged workers and better team players. However, there is a failure rate for these expatriate assignments. Companies need to effectively implement the knowledge transfer process and minimise situations where expatriates suffer from resentment and frustrations during assignments. During the Q&A session, several questions were raised and discussed.
When it came to the possibility of expatriate existence in the era of virtual meetings and virtual working platforms, Sujith and Williams believe that even though expatriate assignments might go low during the time of the pandemic, it is less likely to do all the work remotely as it is hard to do so. They added that virtual platforms are not ideal for work that is needed to be carried out face-to-face and relationships cannot be built via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.
The next question created an interesting endpoint for the webinar. There are some critics saying “Developed nations block developing nations by extracting their best people”. Both panelists agreed on this count as it is more likely to happen in the era of globalisation. The need for political arrangements to tackle this issue was stated. This webinar was followed by another webinar on ‘Global business leadership and challenges faced by business leaders’ organised by the same MBA batch.