I get asked this question a lot:
“Out of curiosity, how did you end up being the guy on your team who got out to the far flung satellites?”
Then I realized that in every case the process was more or less the same.
I wasn’t picked. I engineered all my expatriate contracts.
I was already working in an international organization with many branches around the world.
So that gave me a launchpad to apply the following formula:
- Find a product that is being developed in the target country but within my organization.
- Dissect that product inside out and find everything that is wrong with it from a usability perspective.
- Find customers that are complaining about it. Get their complaints. Get their wish list.
- Write a nice thick slide deck presentation with all your findings. Use the following format:
- State problem -> Suggest a solution
- State usability issue -> Suggest a better way
- State customer complaint -> Say how they wished it worked
- Send the presentation to every stake holder in the target country (as an initiative).
- After they read it they will realize that they really need you and will either try to recruit you directly or offer you a contract.
I found it was a much harder sell for my home organization to hook me up with an expatriate contract than for the host country to offer me something using the process I just outlined.
To be honest I never thought of it as step-wise process until now. I realized that I followed those exact steps in each case.