Most job descriptions for senior-level security roles express either a preference or a requirement for international experience. The global nature of business drives this, and organizations increasingly favor candidates who are knowledgeable and effective in diverse cultural settings.
There are a variety of ways to gain skills at any stage of your career that will set you up to be successful on an international stage and help advance your security career to the senior-most level.
If you are just starting out, you can choose to work for public sector agencies that offer training and the opportunity to relocate to other parts of the world. Many private sector security professionals have transitioned from these roles, and much of their success can be directly attributed to their global experience.
A security professional already in the private sector can pursue education options geared toward international business. Universities and colleges offer a multitude of choices, as do continuing education programs through relevant industry associations. Many multinational corporations support ongoing education, and you can leverage this benefit to better position yourself as an organizational asset across regions in which the company operates.
Also critical is the ability to be fluent in multiple languages. This cannot be understated in today’s world. To be successful in diverse settings, you must be able to communicate and build rapport through language. Building upon earlier language skill sets or targeting languages specific to the region where you would like to live and work are smart choices.
The type of company you choose to work for may also afford you more opportunities than another. For instance, multinational corporations with security, risk and resilience functions around the world are often the type of company you should consider for more international opportunities. Look for organizations that have comprehensive programs and tend to offer opportunities to internal candidates regardless of where they are currently physically located.
An impediment to this path can sometimes be the ability to obtain visas for non-citizens. Organizations will typically have to justify internally, and sometimes externally to a government agency, an international transfer. They may prefer to hire locally to avoid this challenge. Depending on the country in which you live, there may be an advantage to considering relocation to any affiliated nations to combat this issue.
Remote work that avoids any relocation requirement is an option. However, working remotely does not offer quite the same experience level as having to successfully assimilate into a new country and culture.
Security professionals should also widen their professional network to include international security professionals. Such contacts can offer valuable advice and serve in an advisory or mentorship role.
Regardless of how you position yourself to acquire the international experience employers are looking for, it will serve you well. Organizations prioritize hiring senior security management who are adept at collaborating with diverse teams. Proving you have been successful in an international arena will ensure you are a top candidate for these leadership roles.