Moving Abroad with Family

Insights from a Female Manager who Embarked on the Adventure

Moving abroad with family is a big step. What motivated you to decide to move to another country?

  • I had always wanted to work and live in a foreign country, as I knew the experience would help me expand my career as well as enrich my personal life. Another deciding factor for me was family. Most of my extended family is spread out globally, but despite this distance we manage to have a good relationship with each other, further proving to me that on a personal level a move abroad can work. With all of that considered, this summer my husband and our two kids moved to the U.S. for a new job opportunity. 

What advice do you have for other women who get the opportunity to move abroad with their family?

  • In general, it is important to consider aspects of both your professional and private life, which in the end must be in balance for you to decide to move abroad. It is also important to be resilient. 
  • If you have a partner, discuss the conditions and “must haves” together. It is key that the overall concept works out for both. 
  • As a woman, you must also be aware that if you are the one taking the family to a different country due to your professional career, people might have their own views and perceptions on that. In any case, at least in the beginning, family inter-dependency will increase. Be it through the change of environment, network and relationships, or simple banking and VISA regulations, your partner and children will rely more heavily on you in day to day life and you must be ready for that.

Any challenges you had to overcome?

  • Overall, I would say that self-reflection is essential, but over-reflection can also restrict your agility to adapt — Am I doing a good job? How do others see me? Having the high expectation to function as usual has been challenging. And of course, putting a lot of thought on my partner's happiness has been something I've had to keep in mind more regularly.  

From your perspective, how can work experience abroad boost your career development?

  • Working abroad teaches you about cultural differences and how to behave and act accordingly, which is a learning that can be used throughout your life. You also learn how to listen and observe. People act differently when they see you as a neighbor, living with them, instead of just a visitor. If you try to be open you will see that it is easier to adjust to different behaviors than you might think. Professionally, moving abroad forces you to step out of your comfort zone, an emotional muscle that will help to support you in your career growth and development. 

For colleagues who might wish to work abroad, what steps would you recommend?

  • To qualify for an experience abroad, it is important to first do your regular job really well. Then, it's about finding a work environment that provides and supports actual opportunities for working abroad. Select the options that work best for you based on your current life situation (e.g. the country you would like to move to, conversations with your partner and children, etc.). Also, make sure to let your manager know that you are interested in living abroad, as this may not be clear. 
  • In general, I recommend building relationships and networking as soon as possible, even before making the jump across borders or oceans. 
  • Lastly, it's important to be proud of your steps along the way, because every accomplishment no matter how small is a testament to your success working and living abroad.