• Mariam Riza

Embrace the Expat / Diaspora Returnees – and how to plan re-entry if you are an Expat

This is a case for Australia – but applicable in ANY country that has Brain Drain.

Estimated 1 million Australians are living and working in overseas

with estimated rise to 1.35 million by 2030 in a recent PWC & Advance report (2018)

>> Update: Also check out the Video below

But 69% are not engaged with Australia

Who are these Australian Expats?

44% are highly educated –

  •       42% Professionals

  •       21% in Managerial with

  •       7% as technicians and trades workers.

Where do Expats leave to?

Currently – averaged at 500,000 in US; 200,000 in Europe, 200,000 Asia, 100,000 New Zealand.

  •       In 2030 – that number is expected to be 1/3 in Asia due to the Asian boom, and Australian Migrants – returning back to their country of origin.

Why do Expats leave home?

  •       62% - better job prospects

  •       26% - to seek out jobs non-existent in Australia

  •       28% to stay within same company

  •       44% travel opportunities

50% of expats return in 5 years

But 50% of expats return in 5 years ;

  •       while the other 50% stay on for 5 – 25 years and over.

But 69% are not engaged with Australia –

  •       with 25% feeling their Australian peers are disinterested in their live and work overseas

  •       40% feel no benefit to be gained from keeping in touch.

In an age where the next competitive edge, or collaboration opportunity comes from harness talent regardless of borders or geography – we need to find better policies and pathways to harness the Australian expats – living and working overseas.

Why do we need to Harness our Expat Talent

  1.       Technological exposure and insight a.      Expats receive exposure to new tech at 65% - but only utilise 18% upon return to Australia) – massive loss of opportunity

  2.       Innovation and Collaboration opportunities a.      Australia is expected to DROP in GDP ranking from 19% to 28% by 2050 – We need all the innovation we can get)

  3.       Traction in New Markets a.      Local companies within Australia could use our foreign expats as inroads to enter new overseas markets.

  4.       Best practice and Bench marking a.      No one country has the ultimate solution to prosperity and thus learning smaller best practices from several countries through these expats would serve us well.

  5.       New Business Models a.      Expats receive exposure to new business models at 66% - but only utilise 35% upon return to Australia)

  6.      Group-think a.      Brings in a fresh perspective - and challenges parochial – or ingrained or unproductive culture and thinking.

  7.       Cultural Intelligence (CQ) a.      Australia is one the most successful Multicultural communities b. With over 50% of Australian population having been born overseas or have parents born overseas c.      Our Expats can be the best teachers based on their myriad cultural exposure - as to how to harness our local multicultural population within Australia.

  8.       Big Picture view

  9.       Global skill set & Emotional Intelligence (EQ) a. Trained for adaptability, disruption and Emotional intelligence

  10.   Geo-political – Cross border negotiations a.      Understand geo-political views sensitive on the ground – great for cross border negotiations

Why do we Fail to Harness our Expat Talent

1.      Lack of understanding or appreciation

a.      of skills, experience or brands worked with.

2.      Lack of pathways, mechanisms or rules

a.      to understand parallels in work done

3.      Psychologically seeking out Unfamiliarity, connection and common ground

4.      Geographically and time-zone based Isolation

5.      Long term prosperity – 27-year Recession free prosperity

27-year long term Recession free prosperity

How do Organisations Harness our Expat talent

Reach out, create pathways, and plan for families left back overseas

1.      Reach out & Network

a.      with potential expat returnees or current expats for collaboration opportunities

b.      Inhouse organisational networking and Chambers of Commerce etc

2.      International Headhunting

a.      keep an eye out for great Expat talents – invisible or low profile gems.

3.      Try before you buy –

a.      Secondment, short term engagement that can be done offshore or during short term stints locally.

4.      Provide structures and pathways for re-entry

5.      Educate local staff within local companies

a. around parallel localisation of experience, accolades and achievements

6.      Provide safe space for Expats to still service their lives back overseas

a.      They may still leave loved ones back overseas –

b.      Accept, understand - and plan for that.

7.      Try to match packages or purpose for return

a.      Proved platform to be contribute to intrinsic value or contribution

b.      Use friends and family as influencers

8.      Gather and provide better analytics

a.      around the Expats or Returnee Expats you are working with –

b.      to provide a best case practice for other companies to benchmark and aspire to.


9.      Identify the differing corporate and national culture

a.      Identify that sometimes your own ingrained culture may have to change to face the challenges of the future – to solidify long term survivability of your organisation.

Changing for the times and economy not for the person – or the organisation 

How do Expats plan for Re-entry back into home country

Service the Local Australian Market, Maintain Networks, Mentor Locals, & Embassy engagement

1.      Meet and Maintain EXISTING contacts – both home and overseas

a.      While visiting family (91%) – use that to Meet and Maintain local professional contacts


2.      Service the Local Australian Market

a.      Using your overseas company – reposition your role to serve the Australian market or Lead an Australian team

b.      This gives you exposure, insight, future potential teams and employers and

c.      Access to the ways Australia does business

3.      Network

Offline and Online (underutilised at 65%)
Educational alumni (underutilised at 14%)
organisation networking sessions (underutilised at 18%)

a.      Offline and Online (underutilised at 65%)

                   .     Leverage both online and offline platforms for unified and wider exposure

b.      Educational alumni (woefully underutilised at 14%)

                  .    Global university alumnis can the most powerful organisations with both ingroup membership, identity, and cause with purpose.

c.      Global in – house organisation networking sessions

.     It is significantly underutilized at 18% used

d.      Professional Membership bodies

                  .     E.g. – Accounting – ACCA, CIMA, CPA, Chartered Accountants

                 .     Tech - Computer Societies – Australian Computer Society etc

4.      Business Associations and Trade bodies

a.      Work with business associations – for connection, learning – and exposure

b.      E.g. Australia – America Association; Australia Singapore Assoc etc.

5.      Mentorships

a.      You can mentor local young Australians while being overseas or offshore – benefits society as well.

6.      Startup Space

a.      Support – advise or mentor the start up spaces and companies in Australia –

b.      This gives you inroads into Board positions of up and coming growth businesses

7.      BUILD your BRAND

a.      Make sure its global – but also transcends into localization – of Australia or your target country audience as well

Beware of the Australian “Tall Poppy Syndrome”

b.      Beware of the Australian “Tall Poppy Syndrome” – the taking down of successful personalities. Plan for and mitigate it.

8.      Consulate Activities

a.      This provides you access to fellow Australians

b.      Also, Cross – Consulate activities give you exposure to Other nationalities within the expat circle.

c. Embassies and consulates overseas

9.      Government

a.      Tell the Government when you leave - so you can remain safe, have an friend in need, and remain engaged with your country.

b.      DFAT Department of Foreign Affrairs and Trade (

c. Smart Traveller (

10.  Advance Australia (

a.      Set up by DFAT – it is an amazing organisation working to link up, work with, and provide better visibility to Expats overseas.

11.  Awards and Accolades

a.      Advance Awards – and other Awards (

b.      Gives you visibility and exposure to aid the conversation around the work you do and parallels into reintegrate into a role that is fitting of your caliber or experience.

Ideally - regardless of who you are – organisation, government or individual –

  •       we all have the duty to create systems and platforms for People to shine –

  •       having the right people in the right places

  •       to be able to contribute and develop themselves, their peers around them, society in general, and then the economy and national and global prosperity and productivity.

 That’s what we here at Wattleshire, and myself, Mariam, wish for the world.

Do SHARE this article if you are an Expat – know an Expat – or just love spreading the learnings.

and check out the video

Stay safe everyone.

Mariam Riza


Do Connect with Me!

#MariamRiza #Marieoutx #Wattleshire

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Credits - Video by Mariam Riza, Wattleshire; Photo by; Reports by PWC 2018 - Out of Sight Out of Mind; Material also from

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