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Coming Full Circle to Embrace Shanghai
As Lisa drove home from John Campbell College having resigned from her job earlier that day, she turned on the car radio and listened to a BBC World Service program in which well-known author and publisher, Robin Pascoe, was being interviewed about her newly released book on 'Global Nomads'. As Ms. Pascoe recalled her life as a foreign service spouse raising two children in four Asian countries during the 1980s and 1990s, and spoke of the many times she had reinvented her career as a journalist, author, public speaker, and now publisher. Lisa was struck by how common global careers had become and by women no less. Although she herself had at times felt somewhat alone in her own journey as a trailing spouse, Lisa nonetheless knew that international mobility was inevitable for many employees as talent management became critical for multinational firms. She and Lachlan were no exception to this phenomenon: they may not have intentionally set out to pursue global careers a decade earlier, but once they had arrived on the international labor market it made sense that they remain there. They had benefited immensely by doing so, despite the many personal and professional hurdles she had overcome, and even though repatriation to Australia had been an ongoing talking point for years over the dinner table, somehow it just never seemed to factor into any of their plans.
Lisa now clearly saw for the first time that moving to China signaled an important change in their family dynamic: the MacDougall's had acquired the relatively rare skill of 'family mobility and she instinctively knew that it was a skill set likely to be highly sought after by many global companies. Their 'united nations' global family was, in reality, a valuable commodity. Although she had always had the opportunity to return to a relatively comfortable and stable 'north shore life' in Sydney had she wanted to, Lisa had never really seriously considered it an option; instead, she knew now that she and Lachlan would probably pursue global careers in one form or another for the rest of their lives, as would their children. As Ms Pascoe continued to tell her story on the radio, Lisa began to slowly let go of her fears and to once and for all embrace the Shanghai opportunity. And then she began to wonder ... retaining their Singapore permanent residency status might not have been necessary after all, given that there were so many other ones they could move to when the Shanghai assignment was complete.
1- In what ways does the MacDougall family represent a rare and valuable resource to a multinational firm?
2- Reflecting on Lisa's dual-career trailing spouse journey, how would you have approached the situation differently?
3- What problems do you foresee for Amelia and Emily if the MacDougall family undertakes another move after Shanghai?
4- Although not discussed, what impact do you think international mobility has had on the MacDougall's marriage?