International work experience can supercharge your career

Thinking about packing your bags for a job overseas? Rodrigo Mello's new doctoral dissertation shows that whether employees are sent by a company or go independently, international work experience can skyrocket their careers to new heights. Armed with proactive behaviour and adaptability, international workers can seamlessly align their professional ambitions with the unique challenges and rewards of their global journey.

– Going global isn't just a trend, it's a career booster. When you work internationally, you're not just earning a paycheck – you're embarking on an enriching adventure. The boundaries between professional and personal life may blur, but this blend offers unique learning opportunities, says Rodrigo Mello, who will publicly defend his dissertation on Friday 3 November.

Mello's doctoral dissertation at the University of Vaasa explores the career success of expatriates following their long-term international experiences. Data was collected in 2020 from Finnish expatriates who had worked abroad between 2015 and 2016.

How can working in another country boost your career?

Mello's research sheds light on the transformative effects of international work experiences on career growth.

– Embarking on a journey abroad doesn't just change your address, it changes you. It shifts your perspectives on success, refines your professional identity, and opens an entirely new world of career possibilities – sometimes inspiring a lifelong liking of international living, says Mello.

The findings of the dissertation show that the skills cultivated overseas can make the expatriate more attractive in the job market. In fact, individuals who return home after their long-term international work experiences find themselves even more employable than those who pursue an uninterrupted international career path. This shows that global work experience enhances employability not only on an international scale but also in any job market, anywhere in the world.

Moreover, the study emphasises the importance of job fit and career adaptability.

– Whether you find your way back home or venture into another foreign country, your next job should align well with the diverse skills and new perspectives you've gained. Adaptability isn't just a bonus; it's a necessity for navigating the ever-changing international workplaces.

According to Mello, gaining an understanding of how working abroad can serve as an intense learning experience helps both organisations and individuals to make more informed choices.

– In an era marked by a 'war for talent,' where effective talent management is crucial for gaining a competitive edge, grasping how to elevate the career success of expatriates can be a game-changer.

Dissertation gives guidance to both companies and individuals

Mello's doctoral research serves as a roadmap for multiple stakeholders, including corporations, individuals, and governmental agencies. For companies, it offers a blueprint for selecting the right people for international roles—thereby maximising return on investment in global mobility programmes.

For individuals interested in a global career, the research serves as a guide for self-career management, which in turn boosts confidence in taking calculated career risks. Finally, governmental agencies can use this study to tailor policies that attract and keep high-skilled foreign talent, as well as keep skilled Finnish talent, by understanding the factors that contribute to job satisfaction and career success.

– It is important to note that expatriates' expectations about success evolve over time.  This research delivers actionable recommendations for managing international careers throughout their lifespan, says Mello.

Doctoral dissertation

Mello, Rodrigo (2023) Pathways to Triumph: Antecedents and Outcomes of Expatriate Careers Success. Acta Wasaensia 473. Väitöskirja. Doctoral dissertation. Vaasan yliopisto. University of Vaasa.

Publication pdf

Public defence

The public examination of M.Sc. Rodrigo Mello’s doctoral dissertation “Pathways to Triumph: Antecedents and Outcomes of Expatriate Careers Success” will be held on Friday 3 November 2023 at noon at the University of Vaasa, Fabriikki, lecture hall F118.

Participation in the defence is also possible online (Zoom, password: 761693)

Professor Jaime Bonache (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) will act as an opponent and Professor Vesa Suutari as a custos.

Rodrigo Mello will publicly defend his dissertation on Friday 3 November 2023.

Further information

Rodrigo Mello, telephone: +358 50 471 3680 email: rodrigo.mello.fin(@)

Rodrigo Mello, a native of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is an academic and a business professional with a diverse international background. He holds a Master of Business Administration with a focus on strategic marketing from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV) in Rio de Janeiro. He also earned a Master of Arts in international business from CBS International Business School in Cologne. Mello has secured a competitive Ph.D. position funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action 'Global Mobility of Employees' (GLOMO), a research project under the Horizon 2020 programme. His scholarly work is enriched by practical experience gained at multinational corporations like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Lanxess.

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