One of my readers, a fellow female CFO, have sent me an email asking for an advice on the following dilemma she is trying to resolve for herself:
"Hi Frustrated CFO
I'm at a crossroad between choosing to work as a group cfo in overseas subsidiary in US or stay in home country (malaysia) and becomes a group cfo of a division.
Both has its merits and demerits but i'm a woman and study shows that most women do not end at top spot without sacrifice. My family and I would have to sacrifice more if i choose to go overseas. My husband need to put his business on hold and becomes a house husband for a while until we settle down. Its good for the kids as they will go to international school and gain mastery in english language.
Staying in home country is not bad either. I will be in a familiar condition, i will gain new exposure, nothing need to change and i can send my kids to good schools at a higher fee.
Most people will say that experience abroad will change how people perceive you as a leader and thus this will give you greater opportunities within or outside the group.
What do you reckon?
Honestly, it is apparent to me that deep in her heart Anonymous knows very well that, professionally speaking, the best thing to do is to take the job overseas. I always said that a career CFO or a Controller needs to view every job as a line on her resume. Nothing more and nothing less. And what can make a better resume entry than a position showing that your knowledge and expertise are viewed to be unmatchable by a local talent pool in a foreign location? This is a great stepping stone in anyone's career development.
Men don't even think twice about opportunities like that, family or not. But women are naturally more considerate creatures. Many of us try to achieve an impossible balance between professional careers and personal lives. This requires a lot of trade-offs - you cannot possibly have everything. You want spend more time with your kids than you can. You don't want to be too tired for your husband. But, at the same time, your career is a source of income and, more importantly, social independence. The last thing a strong woman wants is to give that up.
I am also a strong believer in exposing children to foreign cultures. It broadens their horizons and sets them apart. Most professional parents do it through traveling and student-exchange programs, but here is a fortunate opportunity of a complete immersion. It would be a shame to pass on that.
So, the only real difficulty is the husband. Is it fair to ask someone to put their business endeavors on hold for the sake of perpetuating your own career? It's really a very private issue that depends on individual personalities, and it can be blown into a very complex problem. However, in my opinion, at the end of the day, it comes down to two major considerations:
1. What will guarantee better financial future for your family as a whole? We are financial professionals - we know how to count. Estimate the future values of each possibility.
2. What will secure the psychological stability of your family? If you are excited about the overseas opportunity, but decide to stay home for the sake of your husband, will you subconsciously hold it against him? Will you let the resentment corrode your marriage?
If you can honestly answer these questions, it will ease your decision-making process. I promise.
I invite other readers to express their opinions on this subject in their comments.