Sunday, August 24, 2008

“What is your comfort level with strategic alliances?”

My latest studious response to the FITT Skills question, “What is your comfort level with strategic alliances?” posed by Douglas Marshall of Bombardier is here answered:

My having a global perspective on answering this question helps. I am a contract worker. In the days of yore this would make me quite similar to a mercenary, of whom the spoils were often great as in the days of the Turkish Empire or those spoils were sparing, as in the French Foreign Legion. My comfort level for working with developing nations educational institutions such as those in Korea or The UAE have been high, as the net benefits of contractual agreement have been better than those offered either in Canada or other developed nations to date. However I do often feel the effects of local perceptions of my presence in the negative either at home or locally abroad especially on a personal or social level for which my value is often questioned as culturally imperialist in nature or opportunistic. My own perspective is I continue to fill locally delineated niches and I am quite good at that.

For example after returning to work in the UAE following 9/11 some of my students’ immediate reactions included, "Teacher, why do you love the Jews?" This is a cultural difference of perspective and perception regarding 9/11. Whereas peaceable North Americans immediately suspected Osama Bin Laden and/or Muslim originated global terrorists, the same peaceable Arabs in the UAE suspected global Jewish terrorists. My response was, "How could I only love the Jews and then work for Arabs?" While my forte is now business education and studies in Korea I am often faulted for not speaking enough Korean or the opinion is that if I have lived here so long I should be fluent. However adequate review of my CV will reveal few time-based opportunities for concentrated study in the topic and I have often perceived my living here has always been until my usefulness ends and/or a better teaching and studying opportunity arrives. It remains my choice and I appear to repeatedly choose further business studies as I believe it is to my and my students’ net benefit.

Similarly, perceived alliances of nationality often preclude common sense. As some in Canada might feel politically or economically wounded by my continued international work as a business lecturer abroad effectively equipping the competition with profitable skills - no one has yet sought to provide me with equitable compensation to do otherwise. I am perceived thus to be heavily allied while in reality my services are available under contract terms to the highest bidders and thus immediately considered somewhat nefarious and the only alternate offer to date that I would reasonably consider is 250,000 a year sans benefits again for a foreign nation which would probably reinforce the turn-coat mentality at home. Some Canadian HR Managers and strategists among them often seem to think we are only reliable and responsible workers if we work for and among ourselves and at their will without alternative negotiation rights, owing on mortgages and Hummers. The mere fact of seeking work or studies abroad appears to confirm I may have never really fit in there. Learning more about Canada's competitiveness unless I am being hired to fix such problems on mutually agreed terms I don't want anything to do with them. Quick survey of many developing nations will reveal compliance based performance evaluations of contracted or non-national workers are often much more stringent than for most workers in Canada. Sometimes double or triple Canada's rate which makes me two or three times more reliable in terms of meeting corporate missions and visions than the average Canadian worker. Too bad complacency appears ranked so highly in Canada's business and political elites.

Besides the fact that the corporate world of today knows few such national affiliations but only the power and will of its shareholding majorities I would say there are many hypocrites in the rank and file of local global business decision-makers and hiring planners globally who delude themselves and "talk the talk" in terms of making global relationships based on personal bridge building yet rarely "walk the walk" and who have yet capitalized on the intangible skills and knowledge that oodles of well-educated and experienced expatriates like me have to bring to potentially several corporate tables proven subjugation and mission or vision statements notwithstanding. Bottom-line: I attempt to respect my contracts as they are really my only leverage in my current level of customer satisfaction and future orientation goals. Much of what I know remains in intangible and in alliance with others potentially highly profitable. At the same time I classify this as future opportunities, and accrued knowledge assets not yet actualized remaining in the realm of potentialities. One report I read years ago stated unequivocally that most western businesses surveyed as in 75% see no HR needs into the far future of any new applicants ever. It appears I am not the only one approaching middle age.

It also would not be considered Asia's Century without such corporate miss-steps in the western world. They pay me and I am a hard little worker.

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