International Positions Draw Local Talent

The Freeland Foundation is a regional advocacy organization based in Bangkok, Thailand that opposes human slavery and wildlife trafficking. In April, they posted a recruitment notice on the CDB site for a Bangkok-based Communications Officer. This position required a three-year contract, with 40 percent of the time spent traveling to China and Vietnam. The work included consumer research, developing advocacy work in China and Vietnam, Chinese-English translation, and helping to carry out multi-media advocacy work at CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in Thailand.  These job requirements indicated that the position was particularly suitable for a native Chinese who was familiar with domestic Chinese issues yet had an international perspective, including a strong understanding of Southeast Asian issues.  In terms of language ability, aside from a required fluency in Mandarin and English, they preferred the applicant to speak Thai, and emphasized the need for applicants to respect and be sensitive to different cultures and political systems.

In April, Greenpeace China, on behalf of Greenpeace International, posted a job listing on the CDB website for an Energy (Investment) Project Director and a high-level Energy (Solution) Project Director, both based in Holland.  The latter position would be responsible for participating in the development and implementation of Greenpeace’s global advocacy strategy, staying up-to-date on external debates and trends, identifying advocacy opportunities, and leading an international project team. Further, the project director would be expected to assist in the development of fundraising projects, program advocacy operations, and donor communications, along with strengthening the organization’s research and operation capacities.

In late May Greenpeace UK advertised a two-year scientific research and development position.  The position was based in England but required frequent trips to Beijing and Hong Kong. Prospective candidates were expected to possess an expertise in chemistry and heavy metal pollution, as well as the ability to promote trust and greater interaction with the Chinese scientific community. Fluency in both Mandarin and English were also required.

Additionally, in April Oxfam Hong Kong’s China program recruited a humanitarian relief and disaster management officer for a three-year contact based in Hong Kong.  The position required frequent work trips to remote areas of China, especially to areas recently affected by disasters.  This was a position which utilized Hong Kong’s international environment, but was focused on the mainland.

NGOs are not the only international organizations recruiting staff in China. This March, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) agency in Spain posted a job listing on the CDB site for a private sector fund-raising (PSFR) Program Director. They required a background in marketing, business administration, economics or management, and at least 15 years of fund-raising experience in comparably-sized organizations or humanitarian aid agencies.  Even though this position was based in Beijing, most of the activities would be internationally-oriented.  The Program Director would be responsible for soliciting funds from foundations, companies and individuals, as well as operating and maintaining an annual budget of over one million dollars.  The Program Director would also be in charge of developing and leading fundraising strategies, along with developing and managing specific projects. In addition, he or she would be expected to provide support in HR, staff capacity building training, and administrative and IT services.

The feedback from this Spanish agency gave CDB some valuable information: of the 30 best applicants, over 30 percent were Chinese, of which many were selected for the first round of interviews.  The UN Refugee Agency felt that Chinese candidates had a competitive edge due to their cultural advantage in fundraising from Chinese enterprises, a key responsibility of the position.

The recruitment of local talent for international development work is not limited to jobs: it also includes long-term exchanges, research and advocacy projects. In March, the PILnet International Fellows program recruited public interest lawyers from China, Nepal, Nigeria, Russia and Southeast Asia to study public interest law, research, and practice in cities such as New York and Budapest for a duration of ten months. The program stipulated that participants be active practitioners in the field of public interest law research and practice.  Not only did this enable Chinese lawyers to understand the work of their overseas counterparts, but it also provided them with an opportunity to introduce their own work to the international community.

With globalization, and increasing contact with the international community, Chinese people will have a greater degree of interchange and integration within the field of international development, and will truly be able to make their own unique contributions.

In Brief

As part of their analysis of staff recruitment in the NGO sector in China, Zhang Gengrui and Fu Tao examine another interesting trend taking place as part of China’s global expansion: the growing number of jobs in the international development sector that are targeting mainland Chinese talent.
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