- By Swati Bhattacharya
Usually, to most professionals, a sure sign of success, is a job heading the
country function in a global organization. The first few years of my career, I
longed to belong to that tribe. The work culture, the offices, the people were
all so much more cooler and "with it". Oh to be able to say "I had calls
with the US through the night, and didn't get a wink of sleep". Yes even that
made me swell with envy and longing!
Till I got there myself.... I wish, someone somewhere had warned
me of the challenges too... lack of sleep being the foremost among them!
One issue that many global organizations grapple with is how
to make global issues tie in with local needs, how to streamline global
policies and yet keep things locally relevant. I was recently speaking with a friend
who is now with a large global auto company. He couldn't for the life of him
understand why an ad campaign should keep me so busy. He said his global team
sent him the market research that they'd got done, the creatives for the
campaign that they'd created, and also the media plan!! He only needed to
execute the plans in the country. I was amazed at this! How and why would they
do that? They had a perfectly capable resource in the country, who understood
the local market and nuances better than them. Who was probably one of their
target audience, who knew media like that back of his hands, but they would not
let go! What a complete waste of this
guys talent, and of the global teams time.
I wonder sometimes, is it a question of credibility, of trust,
of respect for the local team? Why would they not be a key part of the planning
and strategy? Why is it so difficult to let them take over?
I had once consulted to very large fast food chain in India.
The global Foundation had taken the decision to fund a large children's
hospital in some remote corner of Delhi. It was a considerable donation, and the
hospital belonged to a reputed profit making chain that I think could clearly
do without that funding. If only they had checked locally before making that
grant, it could have probably been put to a much better cause that needed the
funds much more. They also of course wanted much PR mileage out of the event,
and that too was not possible, because no journalist would travel a couple of
hours to come and see all the wonderful stuff that the hospital had done with
the funds. All in all, it was quite a damp squib, and left everyone a little
angry and helpless. Silly of the global Foundation to take calls on things like
this sitting in New York, when they've never visited India in their lives,
don't you think? I thought it was a complete waste of time and money and energy!
The secret of succeeding in a global environment clearly is
finding strength in diversity. You have to be able to leverage the country
talent, not just hand them instructions. Pick their brains, get their feedback,
don't just breathe policy down their necks. You'd be surprised at how much more
effective your programs will be. Don't forget they know their market better,
the consumers better, the environment better, how can you beat that sitting in
your remote office in some other country?