Training: Managers go on safari in hunt for experience: two groups have combined to prepare executives for working and living in foreign cultures

THE INCREASING globalisation of business is fuelling demand for managers who can not only cope with, but thrive in different cultures. But surveys show that international postings often end in failure, or finish just as the manager is starting to get the hang of the place. Postings to developing countries are particularly troublesome.

Raleigh International - formerly known as Operation Raleigh, with a strong reputation for developing young people - has joined forces with Ashridge Management College in a scheme aimed at solving the dilemma that commonly faces managers in international organisations: that the skills that can only be acquired through real-life experience are those that are needed before the managers are thrown in the deep end.

The venture - the International Management Challenge - will take managers out to Africa to work on such projects as building schools or clinics, or working on the infrastructure of national parks. The projects will then be carried out by Raleigh volunteers.

It seemed a logical step to link up with Ashridge, which is attempting to do with senior employees much the same thing that Raleigh does with young people, said Raleigh's chief executive, Jamie Robertson-Macleod.

Managers will take on strategic responsibility - for a whole business or a unit - in their first international appointments. They will have to identify, negotiate and set up the projects, but will not become involved in developing them.

Keith Milmer, project manager at Ashridge, said: 'The idea that we have is to take senior managers who are looking for rapid experience in dealing with cross-cultural barriers. They won't have anything to fall back on; it's learning by doing, quite unlike a classroom.'

The projects are carefully selected to be of maximum benefit to the communities in the developing countries and the young volunteers.

Ashridge has begun holding briefings aimed at raising interest in the first project, due to start in Botswana in November, and says it has already had some interest from multinational organisations, including oil companies. It points out that the programme fee of pounds 6,750, plus VAT, provides plenty of opportunities for good PR. It is estimated that there will initially be about 16 places for senior managers. If the programme is regarded as successful, this may be increased to 24.

Before flying to Africa, the managers will spend two days at Ashridge, in Hertfordshire, where they will learn about personal leadership styles and working in teams. This is particularly important, said Mr Milmer, because they will have to work with international teams as well as liaise with national and local government authorities.

After leaving Ashridge they will visit some existing projects in Zimbabwe, before heading for Botswana, where they will arrive six months before the Raleigh volunteers.

The managers will spend 10 days in Africa, planning their projects and negotiating with officials. Support will be available from the local Raleigh field staff, and there will be regular feedback and advice from an Ashridge tutor, who will ensure that the experience they gain can be applied in the workplace. Mr Milmer admitted: 'To be frank, there is a real risk that they will fail to set up the projects.' But a back-up system will ensure that the projects go ahead once the managers have returned to Britain.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Collections Agent

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company was established in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE 40k: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Reach Volunteering: Trustees with Finance, Fundraising and IT skills

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses reimbursable: Reach Volunteering: St...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent