Bernard Salt
The Australian
November 20, 2008

I was in Washington DC to release a new report on global skills at a human resources industry conference in September.

At the end of the conference I ran a workshop on recruitment and placement issues with 30 global HR directors of multinational corporations.

Initially we canvassed matters associated with managing a global workforce. The merits of concepts such as developing “tailored careers”, cultivating a “culture of innovation” and providing “constructive feedback” were popular themes.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

However, I felt we were dancing around an issue. One term that kept popping up was “global mindset”. Another was “global thinking”. Yet another was “cultural sensitivity”.

Nobody explained what they meant by these terms and yet they littered the discussion.

I wanted the group to describe their idea of “the perfect global corporate citizen”. They each had specific ideas of what they were looking for when placing a candidate in a senior role. Indeed it was almost as if they were independently describing different aspects of the same being.

I put it to them that I wanted to create a “corporate Lara Croft”, a virtual being that would perfectly fit into a management role. How old would this person be? What would their CV look like? What would be their skills, experience, attitude and personal situation? The group was immediately energised by the challenge.

To the question about age, the group quickly converged on 38-42 years. In order to take up a senior role, with a view to making it to C-level management (for example CEO, CFO), the candidate must have at least 15 years’ experience. This criterion immediately places candidates at late 30s or early 40s.

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