Foreigner in Charge

Contributed by Padraig O'Sullivan, 03 August, 2015

Thousands of executives from overseas arrive in Australia every year to take up positions either working in or running Australian companies. Yet despite the beautiful weather, modern food, laid back lifestyle and relative sophistication, many of them find the transition difficult. The failure rates remain high; between 25 - 50% (Towers Watson 2012) of all contracts are terminated and almost 50% of expatriate marriages end in divorce (World Development Bank, Expatriate Report, 2010).

Having lived through the expat experience himself and come out the other side (albeit with a few bumps and bruises), Padraig O'Sullivan, leadership transition expert, is well placed to have authored Foreigner in Charge. This book is the definitive book for senior executives and spouses of expats. O'Sullivan has written this book for expats living in Australia and combines research, anecdotal examples and poignant stories. The book is an extraordinarily practical guide for executives and their families undergoing major changes as they adapt to a new life in a new role in a new country.

O'Sullivan has supported hundreds of expat leaders as they transition successfully into their role in Australia and often into Asia. Foreigner in Charge shows executives what to really expect beyond the first 90 days. Practical advice is served up via ‘what to do' and ‘what not to do' stories supported with action lists and guidelines. Interesting insights to Australian culture, sporting heritage and the way business gets done enables a new arrival to quickly accelerate their understanding of the country.

Using a range of anecdotes, stories and examples he lays out the PALDER framework to guide the new leader over a twelve month time frame in transitioning and leading successfully. PALDER (Pre-arrival; Arrival; Look Listen and Learn; Decide; Energise; Review and Renew) illustrates the waves of change the leader, their family and the organisation will undergo, how the expat leader can successfully navigate their transition and what models of leadership they can draw upon to help them do so. The significant events that typically take place within each transition phase are highlighted and there are also tips, checklists and key points to consider. In each of these events there are underlying skills required to facilitate the transition through to the next phase. Each skill is clearly explained and translated into the context in which it will need to be applied. Foreigner in Charge is required reading for executives who are planning on living and working for a period of time in Australia.


Padraig is the co-founder and Managing Partner of OSULLIVANFIELD and was previously, Managing Director of Praesta Australia and Asia Pacific. His prior corporate and entrepreneurial careers crossed healthcare, sales and marketing and consulting industries. He is married with five children and a dog called Gypsy. His passions include a love of all things U2, attending live gigs, completing triathlons, collecting wine and the South Sydney Rabbitohs.


Tags: business | Asia Pacific | Australia | food |