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Research on expatriate assignment

Twist and turn of an expatriate life that eventually have led to a portable profession. Marion Weston explains how she did it and asks you to contribute your own experience.

In my early teens my parents moved to East Africa, I did two years of schooling in Dar es Salaam, returning to the UK at the age of 14 to attend boarding school, and complete GCSE and A Levels. I took a gap year and went to Tanzania where I worked in the Immigration Dept at the British High Commission.

I returned to London and worked for five years, the first three in the customer/public relations dept of a main London store, and the last two working for a national recruitment organisation. Then the travel bug took hold again, and I worked in Dubai for four years for the management company of the World Trade Centre in Dubai, this job was interesting and diverse. Within the role of the management company we organised international exhibitions in our 3 exhibition halls, were responsible for the leasing and servicing of office space to the 100 plus international tenant companies in the Tower, as well as the marketing of the World Trade Centre inter Gulf and internationally.

We returned to England for five years, and went overseas again to Qatar in the early 90’s with two young children. We spent 9 very happy years living in the Middle East, first in Qatar, where I helped organise a boat show, a first for the country. It involved detailed public relations work with the local and international media. It was a great success and I gained much valuable experience in working within the confines of a more traditional culture, whilst successfully introducing new concepts. After two years in Qatar we moved to Jordan and were there 7 years.

Paid employment was difficult to obtain in Jordan, but I did some voluntary work with Palestinian refugees, and worked closely with the international school in Amman, creating a programme and support group for incoming families to the international community in Amman, this work involved working with a variety of nationalities, many from the Arab world, and this work prompted me to enrol at the British Council for Arabic lessons for three months. During my 7 years in Jordan I was a very active member of several Ladies groups in Amman, and was asked on occasions to participate as guest speaker on expatriate issues for their monthly meetings, this involved talking to groups of 50 plus ladies. For several years I was also chairperson of the International Community School. The school community was very busy and this post involved a lot of public speaking either to groups of parents and teachers, or to the wider international community, detailing fund raising efforts etc.

Whilst living in the Middle East I continued to freelance, writing for several UK publications on different expatriate issues. We then dipped our toes in South East Asia spending 6 months in Sri Lanka, although a brief posting, it was a good introduction to South East Asia after so many years in the Middle East!

Since my return from overseas, I have successfully completed a Business Performance Coaching and Life Coaching Course and continue to write for UK and expatriate/HR publications and wesbites. I have had work published by the Weekly Telegraph and Always keen to continue utilising my expatriate experiences, I have visited the international briefing centre, Farnham Castle, several times, to conduct briefings on different countries as well as participating on a panel for human resource seminars. In order to update skills and writing contacts I attend different courses on a quarterly basis, and I attended the Women’s International Networking conference in Lausanne.

I am a freelance writer now, and I have conducted researchs on the impacts of short term and commuter assignments, and I am interested to discover more about the negative and positive impacts of this, popular, rapidly increasing trend in the use of short term assignments (the term short term assignments encompasses the traditional 1 month to one year assignment, as well as virtual and commuter), has on the assignee, family, company and stay at home spouse. This research has already prompted a lot of interest and valuable feedback from individuals and HR alike, motivating me to further research the subject, with a more holistic perspective.

I have undertake the task to publish the results in an article and eventually a book, but would like to keep adding to the, if you have experience of these assignments and would like to participate in my research please contact Paguro staff.