For most who considered higher studies abroad, a unidirectional focus upon the USA dominated; unlike today’s competing options from Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, etc. Emulating seniors in college or siblings within the family, these aspiring executives were clear on earning in dollars and having a stable future there (returnees were only outliers then!). Though not foreseen at that point, a huge wave was to arrive in the country in a few years which changed these patterns on outward migration.
Moving the clock forward to the 1990s, with the liberalisation of government policies, top multi-national corporations (MNCs), from all over the world trickled in attracted by India’s large market. It took some time for those of us employed locally to realise that international experience was invaluable - adding to the number of Indians who wished to work abroad. Hence, many of us longed for that and those who were lucky were spotted for such stints by their employers.
Some found their ways themselves too. It was a combination of a salary in dollars and international experience that attracted these ambitious Indian executives. Around this period, and driven by the Y2K frenzy, the IT sector began its roar, sucking almost every graduate with decent programming and analytical skills in. More professionals were outbound as part of that huge wave.
Why are Indian Executives returning?
Past the old and into the new millennium (era of globalisation), while the boom in jobs and prosperity were beginning to show in India, there were the crises, economic blows, challenges of terrorism and epidemics in different regions of the world that affected businesses and jobs. With its mammoth size and slow assimilation into global happenings, India was somewhat insulated from consequences of such events. These happenings persuaded the return of Indian professionals abroad while those impending to leave home had half-minds to do so.
Salaries in dollars were becoming less of an attraction as huge pay packets and perks were achievable in a more stable home-economy, together with a life surrounded by servants, cooks and drivers; this cozy lifestyle is only a dream in most first-world nations. It may well be taken as an inflection point in our outlook on migration overseas.
As signals were evident that one could get to choose and pursue one’s passion in a large and expanding economy such as India or China, they were picked up by more professionals who opted to return home at the end of their overseas assignments; even those who went on their own accord started to queue up with placement agencies and executive headhunters here. ‘Wealth building’ in dollar terms at home has been in vogue though!
What Affect Does This Have on Indian and Global Economies?
The return of Indian executives after international career experience can be viewed as a welcome trend in favour of fueling the Indian economy - or any developing economy or region such as China, Brazil, Russia, Eastern Europe etc. - by using knowledge gained through such professionals to improve our working styles.
The secret to success of first-world nations has been equally (or even more) from their soft skills, attitudes and sensitivities. Be it in listening, compliance, ingenuity, simplicity, civic senses, open-mindedness & adapting with times - there is much that could be brought back as experiences and education from cultures abroad to imbibe in our society. The rest of the world would be happier to see these transformations and would accelerate their integrations with the developing world too with raised confidence.
As I’ve shared in my recent publication titled Not For $ Anymore, we need to view globalisation as a process of exposing ourselves to, learning from and integrating with the world as our playing field (not envy our immediate next door peer as a threat with narrow minds!). There is immense space to be availed for the right minded people and businesses in various sectors. If infused with innovation, the sky is the limit!
In the same way that every citizen who travels abroad is an ambassador for his home nation, every returnee could be expected to bring back tips and success factors to share with the not-so-privileged at home, for societal adoption. Not an unrealistic expectation, I surmise, if we are determined to garner huge wins as part of globalisation!
The writer is Founder & CEO of Valinnova & Author of ‘Not For $ Anymore’