Monday, 13 April 2015
I must admit I was a little intrigued when I was asked if I wanted to review Yelena Parker’s excellent book, Moving Without Shaking: TheGuide to Expat Life Success (from women to women). It wasn’t that I have no interest in the area (I do!), or didn’t think that it would be of interest to readers of this blog (it most certainly should be), but as a 34 year old man who is well rooted in the UK and no realistic aspirations of taking my family overseas, I couldn’t feel any further from the target audience of the author.
To ensure I was reading Parker’s book with an open mind, I decided to take it with me on short trip abroad over the Easter period, so that I would approach it without the shackles of the daily routine and with that little bit of overseas adventure in my blood. While my kids napped between morning and afternoon sessions at Disneyland Paris, I tucked into the pages of Moving Without Shaking to see what I could learn. I needn't have worried though, as it became abundantly clear from the early pages that this book is accessible for all and while its goal is to provide peer support from women to women, I didn’t at any point feel detached on the basis of my y chromosome.
What Parker provides in a little over 250 pages is pearls of wisdom based on her own experiences, and those of other women who have been successful in working overseas. In 10 concise chapters, we learn about the factors that have gone into helping the author and her friends in their journey across the globe. A lot of this isn’t rocket science. If you want to work at a high level, a strong educational background is vital. If you want to live in another country, you may get by with speaking English in the workplace, but becoming proficient to conversational level in the local language is going to be important when you need to speak to local tradesman or have to ask for directions in a strange city. There are chapters dedicated to Networking, Attitude and even Relationships. Whatever your reasons for wanting to work abroad, or whichever factors are holding you back from taking that leap right now, they more than likely have been covered by Parker and her associates, and documented in the pages of Moving Without Shaking.
Of particular interest to students for whom working internationally may seem a long way off, are the pages dedicated to studying abroad. If it is an option for part of an existing course or something that you may wish to consider for future study, there is some really useful information contained within the pages of this book which you can adapt from the idea of working overseas.
As somebody who works with a lot of female students, I will be encouraging them to put this book on their reading list. In recent years I have seen a surge in events aimed at encouraging women into business, from the likes of the ITs Not Just For The Boys, to the PWC Aspire to Lead series. While I have been keen to promote these opportunities, I have often been taken aback at the relatively small uptake of the students on my courses who want to get involved. I can’t quite put my finger on why that may be the case. There could be cultural factors at play, or maybe a lack in confidence to attend such an event. Whatever the reason may be, Moving Without Shaking provides the reader with strong role models to see what can be achieved by women who wish to pursue an international career. If a young Yelena Parker can make her way from a small town in Soviet era Ukraine to work in over 20 countries, why can’t a Sonya from Slough or Hamila from Hemel Hempstead follow a similar career path?