In the last several years I’ve done a number of searches for presidents of the US subsidiaries of foreign companies. These jobs present several special challenges. In no particular order, here they are:
- First, they require knowledge of how to work with people from different cultures. That doesn’t necessarily mean prior experience working for a foreign company, though that usually helps. It could come from experience with family members (like if mom and dad are immigrants) or from living overseas.
- Second, it requires top-tier communication skills. Communication is always critical, of course, but it’s even more important when dealing with a home office that’s thousands of miles and many time zones away, and where differences of language and culture can easily lead to misunderstandings.
- Third, it requires flexibility. Sometimes the home office wants to do things a certain way because that’s just the way they do it. Provided their approach works, you need to go with the flow. Save your energy for issues that really matter to the business.
- Finally, it requires understanding the role and what you can and cannot change. Running a subsidiary means certain key decisions will be made at the home office. As president, you’ll have input, but not final say. You need to be comfortable with that.
If this sounds good to you, consider opportunities to run a subsidiary.Running a subsidiary company can be interesting, fun and extremely rewarding. In our increasingly globalized world, it’s also a valuable resume builder.