The big OE is part of the New Zealand psyche. A steady stream of young kiwi’s leave our shores and head off to experience the world. But in the whirlwind of life, the years extend and time moves quickly. Some stick to their original plan of a few years, but many stay on, the years passing. Somewhere in their souls many still hanker after the thought of one day returning home – if only they could untangle themselves from the sticky web of life. Their time away on foreign shores had helped build formidable skills and honed their leadership abilities, but it has also made life and a return home more complex.
Similarly others find that career winds have blown them offshore. It may be to Australia or to Asia, while other stronger winds lead to destinations further afield. These New Zealanders forged ahead, thriving in competitive environments, successfully climbing the corporate ladders of multi nationals, large investment banks or breaking barriers in retail or education; creating new pathways in healthcare, telecommunication or IT; the list is infinite. They have risen to challenges, learnt to dance to different tunes, and embraced the opportunities that present themselves. They have succeeded, but like their extended OE compatriots they too feel the pullback to “Godzone”. One can never underestimate the power of what New Zealand has to offer. New Zealand has a plethora of highly skilled expats sitting offshore waiting for the right role.
These roles do exist in New Zealand and as an executive search firm we often see them. New Zealand has amazing career opportunities; we have organisations with outstanding global reputations, innovative and exciting. Iconic brands endeavouring to evolve and move at a global pace. We offer roles that are challenging and broad; a chance to allow these nomadic kiwis to fully utilize the skills they have honed in their adopted countries, and in many cases reintroduce breadth to their careers. New Zealand can expand, expose and challenge them, offer them the chance to take the helm, lead New Zealand organisations into international markets, and harness the power of New Zealand Inc. They may return to our small islands on the other side of the globe, but they can still play on the world stage, keeping their global voice. Their ability to integrate with different cultures, to recognise the fine nuances in diversity – are important strings to their bows.
As an executive search consultant I often get the chance to make “that call”; changing the life of someone sitting offshore. I find my shoulder tap across oceans is usually greeted by genuine excitement. There is sincere interest and enthusiasm about the depth of the roles being offered here. The successful “head hunted” candidate usually returns to New Zealand happy and enthused about the chance to return home. They embrace the opportunity for balance in their lives, and return ready to take on the challenges of a new organisation in a country where their roots run deep. We find these candidates reintegrate back exceptionally well. Yes there will be trials, they are unavoidable, like them New Zealand has changed during their absence. But we find the candidates embrace the changes and not only adapt well but also find themselves revitalised.
Written by Michelle Hawkins.