Making the most of secondment

I work for a well-known bank, and am about to have my first regional exposure in a secondment. This is exciting, but do you have any tips on how to make the most impact over such a short assignment?

Dear Laurence,

I work for a well-known bank here in Singapore, and am about to have my first regional exposure through a one-month secondment to the customer service training team in Cambodia. This is quite exciting for me as my ambition is to have a regional leadership role in the next few years. Do you have any tips for making the most positive impact over such a short assignment?

HR traveller, Singapore

This is tremendously exciting. There are a few things I would do in your situation, and they all involve reaching out to different people. I’d try to find anybody in the organisation who had previously done some project work in Cambodia, and get any lessons learned from them. I’d reach out to the counterpart of that team in my organisation and understand how they work together and what they would like to see more or less of from that Cambodia team.

I’d also take out to lunch the Singapore-based manager initiating this exchange, so I can understand their objectives in this. How much of it is filling a short-term gap in Cambodia versus a planned part of your development? Either way, this is a really exciting opportunity, and I think you should grab it.

I’d also recommend if there is anyone in your organisation who has transferred into Cambodia, reach out to them and seek their advice, and hopefully they can help you have a soft landing. And finally, I’d also do some basic cross-cultural research on business practices in Cambodia.

Laurence Smith is a board-level advisor to With 25 years of working experience in consulting and HR, his career has spanned across different industries and countries, including stints and projects with LG Electronics, GE Capital, McKinsey, the World Bank, and as Managing Director of Learning and Development for DBS Bank.

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