Tracy Kautzmann: "I did not know that partner support existed I wish I would have ."
Dernière mise à jour : 6 sept. 2021
Can you introduce yourself, telling us more about your professional path and why did you choose to coach expat partners?
My name is Tracy Stuart Kautzmann, I am French and American. I ended up moving to Switzerland where my French husband was working and became an expat wife for 5 years. From there we expatriated to Vancouver. It was during that time that I chose to go ahead and change my career path to a “suitcase career”. I got a master’s in social sciences with an emphasis in leadership. With my social science/OD background, it just made sense for me to go ahead and get a coaching degree along with my master's. At that time in life, I did not know that partner support existed I wish I would have.
After Vancouver, we moved back to Macon, France. It was at this time and back in France where job searching was so difficult. My degree came from a foreign country, I had dispatched work experience and gaps in my CV. I finally came upon a job on Monster.ch. There was a position that said, “helping expatriate spouses settle” in a job search, “must be trilingual, must have a master’s in social sciences and expatriated experience” and I thought: Is this a volunteer position? It is too good to be true! So, I applied and that is when I started working with IMPACT Group.
Is there a story you want to tell us about, that pushed you to make this choice of career?
No, I always thought I would go into teaching Interpersonal Communication, which is what my bachelor was in. I planned on getting a masters and a doctorate while on expatriation.
While living in Switzerland, I had a hard time finding a Master’s in Interpersonal Communication. I found one in Lausanne in social science. It ended up fitting perfectly with who I am and what I love. The fact that I was surrounded with expat women, coaching them was just the perfect match.
Why is school diversity important when you recruit?
What are the main difficulties you must face in your job?
I would say that as a coach, I always idealized every single expat partner that I worked with to find a job in their host country. But as you know there are different areas that are more difficult than others.
For example, the main difficulty is that you have to really know the local language in order to expand your chances and be able to learn that job. It isn’t so with every person, some position require English only. However for most the local language is still key.
What was most difficult for me was that I had to be the one to announce that it might be a little harder than you think because you have to work extra hard, and you have to have that mindset of thinking long term. “I am in Paris, it is not just for fun, how can I move my career forward? can I go back to school? can I reinvent myself into…?” It was sometimes difficult and discouraging to see your clients be discouraged.
And to finish, if I am coaching French individuals in France, as a coach I can be like “you can be anything you want, you can go back and be a hairdresser if you want, even if it’s difficult.” For a foreigner, you have to really be mindful of being realistic with the local and country market. Even if it may sound harsh, it’s for their own well-being and reality they have to consider.
For you what are expat partners? Do they develop special soft skills due to their life?
Yes, that is a good question because just recently, like 3 months ago with IMPACT Group, we officially started changing the way we speak about expat partners, in our policy. We call them accompanying talents so to me, it really says quite a bit about what we truly believe.
We do believe that expat partners have extra talents that companies would benefit from hiring spouse/partners because of their wealth of experience. It’s still not really accepted as a term but I think most everyone in HR and in mobility do agree that we are far from that “trailing spouse” but that the talent is right here.
They have the knowledge of cross-cultural living, they can better communicate, better negotiate, better listen, they are more adaptable, and I would say also they bring so many more skills and competencies. And in terms of leadership skills, able to style switch and communicate with a listening ear.