At CareerNation’s 2009 Africa Brain Gain Conference, two panelists representing health services organizations openly vied for the attention of a job candidate with a master’s degree in public health.
“I’m very much interested in you. See me after this panel,” Lori Tiller, vice president of human resources at Helen Keller International, told the young woman, who had expressed frustration at not finding a U.S.-based entity that would hire and post her to Kenya, where she has family ties.
Christine Ratnam, vice president of human resources and organizational development at EngenderHealth, promptly spoke up. “I, too, would like to speak with her,” she said.
Black professionals from at least 15 countries — mainly in Africa, with a sprinkling from the United States, Caribbean and Latin America — attended the conference in July at the Hilton New York hotel. “Dozens of us have gone home and started businesses or found jobs and feel more fulfilled,” Amini Kajunju told the audience. Born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kajunju is the executive director of Workshop in Business Opportunities, New York City, and an executive committee member of AngelAfrica, a network of young professionals dedicated to private sector development in Africa.
A growing number of professionals are looking for work overseas, pushed, in part, by layoffs at home, and by corporations’ efforts to expand their operations globally. Experteer.com, an executive career service that scouts out jobs in the global marketplace that pay annual salaries of $100,000 and up, reports that 13 percent of senior executive job seekers are searching overseas for opportunities as the recession continues.
André Branch, global marketing director at Diageo P.L.C., moved to the company’s headquarters in London in 2003. “I knew my domestic experience was valuable to my long-term career goals, but I was also keenly aware of the increasing trend of globalization and the importance that many emerging markets, such as India and China, play in the world of global commerce,” he says.
While studying for a master’s degree in business administration at Columbia University, Joy C. Booker traveled to Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai to analyze China as a market for life insurance. She subsequently developed an application to facilitate life insurance sales and operations in international markets for New York Life International. That application was launched in China. Booker, most recently a vice president in the institutional sales and marketing division of Madison Square Investors L.L.C., completed a French language immersion program in Nice, France, in June.
“Having studied French since the sixth grade was an added benefit,” says Booker. “I recommend that all parents equip their children with languages so they can have an easier international experience. As we begin to weigh new leaders, foreign language competence is something to strongly consider.”
Branch and Booker are members of the Executive Leadership Council’s Next Generation Network, a professional development group for outstanding young African-Americans working in corporate America.