By Anne Morgan
10 June, 2013
Throughout its history, AAS has recognized that accompanying partners have varied needs and talents and have consistently provided professional support in the form of workshops and practical advice.
Launch of the Employment Program
Joanne Blakemore, President of the AAS in 1998, recognized the need to formalize the advice offered and in June 1998 the Employment Program was launched. Its stated aim was to act as a filter for current information on employment opportunities, immigration and resources. By September 1998, it had evolved into the Career Resource Center for Expatriates (CRCE) and a series of workshops were organized to establish an agenda and explore the needs of the members.
Early workshops focused on exploring options for personal and professional growth to provide a better framework in which to live, work and grow. This included identifying transferable skills and the processes involved in setting up a new business. “CRCE filled a very real need for the growing numbers of career focused partners who wanted to continue to grow professionally during their time in Singapore,” said Elizabeth Dickinson, executive director from 2001-2004. Membership quickly climbed from an initial 150 to more than 500, as CRCE attracted accompanying partners from all over the globe. Today, current membership is in excess of 600, representing more than 40 nationalities.
Establishment of the Job Board
From these humble beginnings, CRCE started to forge strong relationships with employers who were keen to offer opportunities to the talented membership. A job board was established and companies posted various vacancies, keen to utilize the skills of the talented membership. Miryame Krogmeier, executive director from 2006-2008 explained: “Providing a source of employment to individuals, some of whom had been out of the workforce for many years is amazing, the confidence this inspires is priceless.”
Many members, both past and present, speak of the enormous support they gain from sharing their experiences with others. Looking for employment can be a lonely and isolating experience; CRCE offers an opportunity to forge relationships and network. Ros Mounter of Johnson & Johnson is a prime example, “I started my new job in September, which is 100% down to a contact (and now good friend) I made at my very first CRCE workshop,” she explained in a recent interview.
A Wide Range of Workshops
The pace of change in today’s work place is voracious. As individuals, it is valuable to try to keep pace with developments even if we are not in the workforce. Alka Chandiramani, the current CRCE manager, recognizes that the membership demographic is changing, CRCE must appeal to individuals at many different junctures in their life. She organizes a wide range of workshops so members can keep up-to-date and learn everything from leveraging LinkedIn to building a personal brand. “A team of highly successful speakers generously offer their time to give back some of their expertise and we extend our sincere thanks to all of them,” she said. “CRCE is a continuous work in progress and is the product of a collaborative effort from many individuals both from within and outside the AAS. At its heart, it represents a hugely valuable source of employment opportunities for expatriates. We are hugely grateful to all of the businesses who continually post their vacancies on our job board.”
Offering Networking Opportunities
So what’s next for CRCE? We are currently reaching out to companies who have a large international workforce and offering them with various options to extend CRCE as a benefit to the accompanying partners of their international assignees. Too often, the professional needs of the partner are forgotten in the move and CRCE is here to fill the gap. We will continue to encourage a wide range of businesses to post vacancies on the job board, present a comprehensive program of workshops (including evening sessions) and offer our members many networking opportunities.
Expatriate employees are in demand as it becomes a requirement to relocate middle- to senior-management employees to various industry regional headquarters in Asia. Surveys consistently show that about two-thirds of international expatriates are accompanied by a spouse, children, or both, meaning that employees are concerned with the stress of cross-cultural relocation on their family. In addition, more than half of expatriate families are dual career couples and this number is consistently rising.
Change is a Constant Part of our Evolution
Arriving in a new country as an accompanying partner can present you with a host of challenges, especially if you want to further your career. Sourcing advice and establishing a professional network can be particularly daunting.
We will continue to strive towards excellence and change is a constant part of our evolution. Aptly quoted by Marilyn Ferguson, “The greatest revolution in our generation is that of human beings, who by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change their outer aspects of their lives.”
Thank you to all our members, past and present, for making CRCE what it is today.