International Crucible Assignments

On 1 April, Dr. Mark Bussin, Chairman of 21st Century Pay Solutions Group, based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and author of the recently published textbook Expatriate Compensation, was a featured presenter at a unique event on Expatriate Compensation, sponsored by Freelance Total Rewards. (See the event page for more.)

Expatriate Compensation

During his presentation, Dr. Bussin explained what’s happening in Africa when it comes to expatriate assignments. Of particular interest was his description of “international crucible assignments”, which were defined by The Corporate Leadership Council (2012) as “an expatriate experience that places leaders in challenging or unfamiliar situations and fast-moving environments.” The term ‘crucible’ refers to an intense, meaningful, and often transformational experience which shakes and shapes your life. He shared examples of such crucible assignments occuring within the African continent today.

Of particular interest to mobility professionals and HR/Talent management leaders was the fact that crucible assignments include assignments made by multinational corporations (MNCs) of talent for the purpose of knowledge transfer. He noted that those on crucible assignments in Africa often complete their knowledge transfer objective in months, or even weeks. This of course, is due to the strong motivation to get home as quickly as possible. This contrasts with most expatriates in Singapore who typically tell their bosses that finding, training and transferring knowledge to a local Singaporean takes several years.

Folks, are you paying attention here?

This speaks volumes to those of us trying to repatriate, localise or otherwise manage inbound expatriates in Singapore, or for that matter any location where people want to go and stay and stay and stay…

So, being the consultant that I am, here are the questions I will pose to you who are reading this?

  1. How can knowledge transfer take place in months, or even weeks in Africa, and yet require years in Singapore?
  2. Could it be that the time required to transfer knowledge to a local talent is directly proportional to the richness of the package and the quality of life of the host location?
  3. Are you paying a hardship allowance or mobility premium to those coming to Singapore, when it is ranked by Mercer as having the highest Quality of Living in Asia (not counting Australia)?
  4. Are the leaders responsible for localising expatriates themselves expatriates? Are they grooming local leaders, or at least localising their own packages as a way of leading by example?

The afternoon seminar on Expatriate Compensation was the first public event offering by Freelance Total Rewards. Participants were treated to a unique examination of mobility practices from mobility veterans such as Dr. Bussin and Fermin Diez (as well as yours truly.) We intend to hold events like this each quarter, targeting topics relevant to decision-makers and policy influencers on rewards and mobility topics.

Hope to see you at our next event!

One thought on “International Crucible Assignments

  1. Great questions and the answers seem rather obvious. Thanks for sharing the knowledge transfer timeframe in Africa!

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