Internationally experienced software engineers and managers add value

They gain exposure to projects they could not have in their home countries. 

When I was in the UK, we had many Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans, and many others work on such projects.  With small projects or smaller populations such as Australia and New Zealand, it is important to have jack-of-all-trades, that is people who are multi-skilled.  That doesn’t mean they were not also highly specialised.  Likewise, larger projects and larger populations such as the UK, Germany, France, US, and China can afford more specialised people.  We gave exposure to large projects they didn’t often have at home – and they were inspiring us to be more multi-skilled.  As a result, the international market opened up with my new multi-skilled ability. 

There are large and complex projects, and small and simple.  There are a variety of project and product types.  It is rare if anyone can find such experience in one location. Working with or being an international software engineer has great benefits for knowledge transfer.

They also have a wider exposure to a variety of tools, processes, and technologies and at different stages of maturity.

Software engineers without international experience often focus on knowing software engineering trends for their country very well but less on what is happening globally – they may re-invent the wheel or not be knowledgeable about the latest worldwide trends.  International software engineers can bring new ideas to the table with knowledge & capability to compare & contrast from experience in variety of countries. It makes them more efficient and ultimately more strategic with their time as they pick from the best tools, process, and technology. 

Each country is at a different stage of its growth and cycle.  Legacy software in developed countries is often greenfield projects in developing countries.  Some countries are moving forwards with large legislation changes such as in financial trading, import and export, or taxation. Eventually each country will at some point go through the same process and need these internationally experienced software engineers to save re-inventing the wheel.

They have learnt more about team building and leadership working with a variety and mix of cultures. 

Team structure and reporting line can be very different between countries.  Across UK and Europe, the structure is often very flat

  1. Board
  2. IT Director
  3. Software Engineering Manager
  4. Software Engineer. 

In Canada it can be

  1. Board
  2. VP/CIO
  3. AVP Software Engineering
  4. Director of Software Engineering
  5. Assistant Director
  6. Software Engineering Manager
  7. Software Engineer. 

Even the well-known methodologies of agile and waterfall are modified to match local culture.  Some cultures prefer micro-managing and others more trusting – the international software engineer quickly adapts and knows when local culture trumps any favouritism to waterfall or agile.  

Places such as UK, Europe, Asia, and the US have no problems with a foreigner in a leadership position allowing the teams and leaders to flourish without borders.  A few do not allow that and teams stay stuck in their old ways – especially in a culture that micromanages more than they trust.  I have worked as a software engineer or software engineering manager in over 30 countries and it is the countries and their cultures that have inclusion and diversity that permits foreigners in leadership that flourish the most.  There is one “developed” country that will not even permit foreigners to call themselves a software engineer or teacher of software engineering, unless they were educated in that country, nor will they permit them beyond role of developer or computer programmer. It is no wonder that country had many examples of old tools, processes, and technology and struggled to fill them. This reluctance to be inclusive led to sales and administration staff being “drafted” into IT roles


Overcoming challenges when team members have different ideas, opinion, and methodology on a solution is one of the most important skills for a software engineer or manager.  Internationally experienced can do so when cultural differences exist too.  They know the right questions to ask, and when to listen.  They too have learnt to quickly adapt to other cultures and working styles.  Software engineers and managers with international experience have proven they are courageous enough to step outside their comfort zone and quick to learn on their feet.  Including them in homegrown teams is a must to transfer that knowledge.  Teams that don’t struggle when they have to work with overseas teams – or continue in ways that the rest of the world no longer uses.

Photo by Porapak Apichodilok from Pexels

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