GLOBALISATION is not a new phenomenon but remains a hot topic. Executives with strong international experience will enjoy increasingly distinct advantages as the world becomes more integrated and the economy more globalised. How, then, can they make the most of their diverse backgrounds?

Take Gloria, who led the China marketing team for a multinational beverage company. She was searching for a more challenging role that would offer greater management experience and more responsibility.

It was clear from her resumé that her international experience would serve her well in a more senior role, but she needed to know how to convince potential employers of this. As a middle manager, how could she step up to senior management level?

Review your skill sets

Gloria is a Hong Kong native, brought up in a bilingual environment with university education in Australia and work experience in Singapore and Shanghai. She has the multilingual skills and multicultural exposure that are important assets for developing a career in multinational companies.

China was growing in importance for her European managers, so her role as a capable leader with solid marketing skills and her ability to move between eastern and western cultures became more significant. She was able to communicate effectively with the European management and her colleagues and team members on the mainland.

Gloria is much more than just a "cultural interpreter". She has a profound understanding of her company's European culture and leadership, in addition to sound insights into the China market, including why and how the leadership can adapt to the Chinese perspective.

This enabled her to play a crucial counselling role on corporate strategies to senior management. This capability gave her a head start among other department heads in her pursuit of a more senior position.

Knowledge of cultural sensitivities

One example of her value to the company was her critical and timely advice to the senior management to avoid a global corporate-wide marketing initiative which, due to cultural differences that senior management was not fully aware of, may have backfired on the mainland.

In critical instances such as this, Gloria had demonstrated that her strategic and bold advice helped to ensure seamless integration and cultural adaptation, which are crucial for multinationals to successfully develop global markets.

She also maintained an objectivity and sensitivity to all cultures and perspectives in the corporation, and helped senior management avoid favouritism towards certain markets, practices and staff members that would have otherwise stirred up internal conflicts and jeopardised business.

These qualities make her a great asset for any multinational seeking local success. She also has an amiable and popular personality in a corporation made up of people from different backgrounds, which enabled her to build productive working relationships on all fronts.

Count your contributions

Using these strengths, Gloria built her portfolio, citing her critical and strategic advice to senior management and her important role in ensuring the effective development of the China market. As a result, she convinced senior management of her ability to contribute further to the corporation at a time when the world's eyes are on the China market.

Gloria is now at the core of the corporation's decision-making body, second only to the CEO. Her experience shows that executives with solid professional skills can benefit tremendously if they possess international exposure and strong understanding of local and international markets.

More importantly, they need to position themselves as global executives and use their cross-cultural expertise, which is crucial to creating win-win situations for companies and their own career advancement.