A Procurement Professional’s Guide to International Assignments

Share This on Linked In

The experience and perspective gained through an international assignment is ever-more valuable in today’s global supply chains and increases a procurement executive’s marketability in the long run. But making an international assignment work requires a well-thought out plan and a lot of flexibility from everyone involved-employer, employee and family.

So what should you do if you are thinking of making such a move? A recent article in Purchasing, which attempted to be a procurement professional’s guide to international assignments, had some good starting tips.

  • Does your company have a support structure in place for the region being relocated to?
    For example, IBM has had an established program since the 1980s where employees considering an international assignment were sent to an orientation session that addressed tax implication issues, handling your house in the US, school and church options, etc. Then, there was a look-see trip for those still serious about the idea.
  • Will your family be able to integrate into the community?
    Will there be support groups to help your family when you’re at work and traveling for work?
  • Will you be close to your suppliers?
    Not only should that be the primary benefit to the company, but it should be the primary benefit for you … you should be able to visit your suppliers regularly and develop real relationships on a professional and personal level that will help both your company and you.
  • Is the language you speak spoken there?
    It doesn’t have to be the primary language of the region, but at least a subset of people should speak it commonly as a second language.
  • Are you interested in learning a new language?
    While it may not be a necessity, it will certainly make your life easier if you are willing to learn the basics and soak it in.
  • Can you talk to people who have made the move?
    Find out about their daily lives and if you will be able to relate to their experiences.

It also had a list of do’s from Associates for International Research:

  • ensure that your company has a formal set of policies and practices
  • visit the location prior to accepting the assignment
  • have a clear understanding of the financial implications
  • understand how daily living will be different
  • obtain a proper and complete Letter of Understanding
  • read the relocation policy in advance
  • take care of any major medical or dental needs beforehand
  • get an idea of the expected outcomes of the assignment
  • obtain details on the type of security and medical services that will be offered
  • have an understanding of the tax implications and your compliance responsibilities