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By Erin White
From The Wall Street Journal Online

Your employer's ever-expanding global operations might be great for company revenue. But they are lousy for your sleep schedule.

That is what Arthur Gallego discovered when he became global communications director for a big beauty products company. With co-workers in about 25 countries, Mr. Gallego worked 18-hour days, answering phone calls and responding to e-mails early in the morning until late at night. "I would take calls at three in the morning," Mr. Gallego recalls. "It was taxing."

Mr. Gallego was eager to counter the stereotype that Americans expect others to work on a U.S. timetable. But his round-the-clock efforts at cultural accommodation could last only so long. After about a year, Mr. Gallego left the job, partly because of his exhausting schedule.

As big companies try to knit their sprawling global operations together, staffers are working more closely with colleagues around the world and are discovering a host of new complications. Companies that once had super-centralized management have sought more-local collaboration to better serve foreign markets. Other companies that suffered from too much local autonomy are trying to become more cohesive. At the same time, technology like e-mail, the Internet and instant messaging has made it easier and cheaper for staffers around the world to communicate.

All this means many jobs now require close cooperation with international colleagues. To succeed, workers must navigate a logistical minefield; job-hunters considering such posts should be aware of the possible problems. Many of the details that seem mundane can actually cause an enormous amount of stress. Just think about how much time you could spend arguing over when to set up a conference call involving people around the world. How do you determine convenient locations for in-person meetings? What about scheduling projects and deadlines with conflicting national holidays, vacation patterns and workweeks? How often should people talk to maintain good relationships when they don't see each other every day?

Mabel Miguel teaches students in master-of-business-administration programs and executive-education courses about how to work on a global team as a management professor at the University of North Carolina's Kenan-Flagler business school. Part of what she teaches comes from experience: She leads a global team of professors as a course coordinator in the school's OneMBA program, an executive M.B.A. offered by UNC and four other schools in the Netherlands, China, Brazil and Mexico.

At first, the five professors teaching the course didn't think it necessary to set up regular phone meetings. They would just call each other when they needed to. But without a preset time, it was hard to get everyone on the phone when issues did arise. People were too busy with obligations closer to home. "There are face-to-face demands that have more pull than these virtual or distance demands," Ms. Miguel says.

Now, they have a schedule of hour-long monthly phone meetings. To determine the best time to talk, Ms. Miguel uses Web sites such as She enters the locations and the site lists the time in each place by hour, with color coding to indicate whether the time is convenient. Their meetings often require a late night call for the professor in Hong Kong; luckily, he is a night person. Ms. Miguel also makes sure to list the meeting time in each professor's local time. She used to announce only the U.S. East Coast time, but people miscalculated the time difference. "People tried to call in, and of course, the meeting was over," she recalls.

Peter Handal, president and chief executive of management-training firm Dale Carnegie Training, must determine a good place to hold the company's annual convention every year. With 200 offices, including franchises, in 70 countries, that is no easy feat. Mr. Handal follows a "two-flight" rule for big company gatherings: Most workers must be able to reach the location in no more than two flights. That means places like the Caribbean islands are out. They are convenient for American and European workers, but difficult to reach from Asia or Africa. Better choices are travel hubs like Southern California, where the company recently held a meeting for its top 25 offices.

For Elizabeth Kesses, associate partner at brand and communications consulting firm The Ingram Partnership in London, working with associates around the globe means organizing her workday by time zones. One of her clients is a big film studio based in California. Ms. Kesses helped develop the global marketing strategy for a new film. Recently, she spent a day going over the global strategy with the local marketing directors for the film's distribution company.

To reach Australia and Japan, she got into the office by 7:30 a.m. Then she called marketers across Europe. She hit a lull at midday, so she discussed plans with colleagues at her office. The calls started up again in the afternoon, first to Latin America. By late afternoon, she was on the phone with executives on the West Coast. She didn't leave the office until about 8:30 p.m..

Sometimes, her West Coast calls are so late she has another solution: "It's often easier to go home and use the phone at home."


By Erin White
From The Wall Street Journal Online

Much to the dismay of senior, experienced job-seekers, many hiring managers have a commitment problem. But there are ways to get around the reluctance to tie the knot.

A growing number of baby-boomer workers are trying to get around this problem by becoming contract workers. "We are seeing an increase in the number of mature workers who are doing contract and temporary work," says Ray Roe, chief executive officer of Adecco Staffing North America, a Melville, N.Y., unit of Switzerland-based staffing company Adecco SA. Sean Bisceglia, chief executive of Corporate Project Resources Inc., a Chicago-based marketing staffing firm known as CPRi, says about 80% of the firm's applicants today are baby boomers -- up from about 40% a year ago.

Some people are doing this by default; they have been laid off and have had trouble finding permanent work. Others want out of the corporate grind and see a chance to gain greater flexibility and potentially make more money, especially as companies continue to squeeze raises for permanent staffers. For years, of course, senior workers have worked on their own as consultants. But for some, signing up with a contracting firm is an easier route because you don't have to line up your own assignments.

Contract work can be even more lucrative than a permanent full-time job if your skills are in hot demand. Such workers can hop to different assignments and earn higher hourly rates than they would have under salary at a permanent job. But these people must be confident in their skills -- and the market for them.

Mark Howard, vice president of contract staffing at Management Recruiters International Inc., a Philadelphia unit of CDI Corp., says he is seeing an increased demand for senior contract workers with accounting or engineering management backgrounds. Dan Smith, managing partner for Management Recruiters International's Princeton Search Group, says insurance industry clients have sought senior contract workers to assess building damage following the Florida hurricanes.

Other contract workers take pay cuts, but find contracting arrangements less stressful than a permanent corporate role, and simpler than consulting on their own.

Alexander Swan, a 56-year-old market researcher who lives in McKinney, Texas, was laid off from his post as director of market research at a big beverage marketer in early 2003. He chose not to start his own consulting firm because he doubted he had a big enough network of business contacts to bring in steady work. "You have to have so many jobs lined up before one of them hits, and the way you get compensated is such a delayed process," he says. In hindsight, he says, he probably should have networked more aggressively while working at his former employer.

A more realistic option, he realized, was working through a contracting firm. He signed on as a market-researcher for hire with CPRi in December 2003. The firm works with clients to find them staffers from its worker pool, so Mr. Swan doesn't have to worry as much about finding work on his own. He also gets health benefits through the firm, which he says are comparable to those offered by his former employer.

He landed a 13-month assignment with a large consumer-products company and found it to be a refreshing change from the more-traditional role in corporate life. He didn't have to deal with company politics, for one, because as a contractor, he wasn't concerned with climbing up the management ranks. "You just do the work; you don't worry about your next career path," he says. "You don't necessarily have to play the political situations that you have to otherwise."

He worked fewer hours, too -- usually about 40 hours a week, with Friday afternoons off in the summer, compared with about 55 to 60 hours a week at his old job. He had more time for his personal life, and lost 20 pounds playing tennis and working out. He also spends more time with his friends. "When you go home, you do not take the job with you," he says. "You can pursue your hobbies."

He's making only about two-thirds of his former income, but hasn't minded cutting back his spending. Recently divorced, he has moved to a smaller home and spends less money on restaurants. "It really would take a very remarkable situation for me to go into a full-time situation" again, he says.


By Barbara Moses

Flash back. It's the early 1980s. An oil company has hired me to find out why women aren't represented in its senior ranks. The "glass ceiling" is our working hypothesis. While this is partly the reason, the problem is more complicated than that. The women say they don't want to become the "man in the gray flannel suit" -- "mini men" repressing important aspects of their personalities. A surprising number say they had looked upward and thought, "Ick, if that's what it takes, I'm not interested." By this, they didn't mean just the long hours; they were appalled by who they had to become to be successful.

Twenty years later, I'm still hearing this complaint. Women still feel alienated from testosterone-fueled corporate cultures -- the brinkmanship, politics and bravado. When women professionals share war stories, the rapport is instantaneous. They describe the same need to dissemble and think about which battles to fight, how they'll be perceived and whether they'll be seen as too soft.

The major issue affecting women professionals is having to hide their emotional selves at work, says Tamara Weir-Bryant, a Toronto-based career counselor. "They're constantly walking a tightrope," she says. "They need to behave in a way that gets respect from men, but that men don't think is too strong."

Another disappointment for women, says Ms. Weir-Bryant, is buying into professed corporate values, such as valuing people. Professional women say such policies often are used to gain employee commitment but aren't genuinely practiced. "So then they become disappointed and angry," she says.

A Universal Issue

If women executives have a universal issue, it's the desire to express their authentic self at work. They dislike repressing the side of them that cares about relationships and others' feelings. They don't want to leave their personalities at the corporate door or pretend to be someone else. They want to use so-called feminine behaviors and still be seen as real players.

What does it mean to be authentic in a work environment? I posed this question to a group of senior professional and managerial women. For them, it means not having to change who they are when they come to work. They want to be able to establish emotional connections with co-workers and relate to staff, colleagues and superiors on a personal level. This doesn't mean knowing every detail of a co-worker's personal life. Instead, it means having a sense of who the person is and being able to connect as human beings.

"I'm sick of faking it," said one human-resources vice president. She recounted being recruited for a great job at an organization with an excellent reputation, where she'd earn more money and be excited about the content of her job.

"But when I met the members of the management team, I saw it all," she says. "The insincere smiles, the self-importance, the women acting like men." She declined the opportunity.

Values Don't Match Actions

Professional women say they're perplexed. Organizations stress the importance of values and interpersonal skills, but their actions seem to contradict this claim. Celebrating speed, numbers, and achievement runs counter to basic female values of nurturing and supporting.

"The business world has become more, not less, hostile to the female side, with economic conditions that favor cutting costs to the marrow, extracting every last ounce of productivity out of everyone and assessing talent in a fiendishly Darwinian manner," says Toronto-based consultant and writer Lynne Everatt, who describes herself as a "recovering M.B.A."

Women who seek more from their interactions aren't soft or indecisive. Indeed, they're accomplished, understand business realities and focus on results. But they see results differently from their employers.

"When I was a VP of human resources, all I saw was the compromise of values to get results," says a 50-year-old corporate refugee who's now an independent recruiter. "What kinds of results are you getting when abuses are overlooked, and when people are completely demoralized?"

Like many other recently disenfranchised corporate women, leaving her job of several decades to work for herself has improved her mental, emotional and physical health. "I feel like me for the first time," she says. "I lost 'me' in the corporate world." She has since lost 20 pounds and looks 10 years younger.

Not everyone needs to spend years 25 years trying to decide they can't compromise. "Long ago I'd had enough of trying to restrain my personality and worrying about being penalized for caring about others," says a 39-year-old chartered accountant. "And guess what? My effectiveness [after leaving] increased because people trusted me -- I was real."

A female engineer in a male-dominated petroleum organization says that she filled the "human caring" void in her group. "The men secretly welcomed that contribution but didn't want to be the wusses who provided it," she says.

Leaving the Corporate Ranks

The good news is that women now place finding an environment where they can be themselves and appreciated for their values and relationship-based approach at the top of their career agenda. If an employer doesn't encourage this approach, they say, "I'm out of here" and flee to more life-friendly employers or start businesses where they feel good about who they are, can make a contribution and have a life. (Clearly, the challenge facing employers now is to retain talented women in coming years.)

Fortunately, more organizations and managers are promoting authenticity. Jane Hutcheson, vice president of learning for TD Bank Financial Group, says that allowing people to be free "to be who they are" is paramount to her and the culture she's trying to create. She notes that being engaged is an emotional act and that employees aren't engaged if they act like robots.

"There are so many ways in which people express authenticity," she says. "Sometimes you need to accommodate individual differences even if you're wondering 'Why would you do that?' "

Carolyn Clarke, human-resources vice president for Fairmont Hotels and Resorts, concurs: "We want people to feel they can express their authentic self. They're happiest and most effective when they know who they are and act on it, and do work which they're naturally good at."

Being authentic is good for you and your employer. Just be sure to find a company that appreciates the real you

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