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Away Game: Australians in American boardrooms by uke Collins

by
October 2006, no. 285

Away Game: Australians in American boardrooms by uke Collins

Wiley, $29.95 pb, 183 pp

Away Game: Australians in American boardrooms by uke Collins

by
October 2006, no. 285

Australians have a reputation as avid travellers. Prompted by our isolation, our international ancestry or basic curiosity, we roam far and wide, often for years. One million Australians currently reside overseas. Away Game examines an expanding niche within this group; those antipodeans living Stateside at the respective helms of such corporate giants as Ford Motors, IBM, Dow Chemicals and, until recently, even the all-American bad boys of the food industry, Coca-Cola and McDonalds.

Collins sets out to discover the reasons why so many Australians enjoy such success in the United States, and he elicits varied responses. Some cite our cultural forthrightness as a boon, others regard it as a hindrance when dealing with colleagues. The saturation of our local media with American content is credited with lessening the culture shock by the younger of the expatriates, yet the interviews reveal that, rather than attributing this mini-phenomenon to any set of supposedly Australian character traits, what links these people ultimately is ambition. Several interviewees cite the desire to test themselves on the world stage as a deciding factor in breaching their comfort zones. The decision to return home is often simplified as a choice between career and way of living. The many New Yorkers interviewed here talk wistfully about the beach and the open spaces back home.

As Collins and his subjects discover, it gets narrow at the top, and the fact remains that many Australian industries simply cannot offer the same opportunities as their American or European counterparts. An editor at Time describes Australia as ‘a fantastic safety net’. Yet while many expatriates reluctantly admit that a permanent return to our shores is unlikely, all declare themselves wholly Australian in spirit – and by passport, with the American government recently permitting dual citizenship, thus ensuring the growth of this trend.

Marina Cornish reviews 'Away Game: Australians in American boardrooms' by Luke Collins

Away Game: Australians in American boardrooms

by uke Collins

Wiley, $29.95 pb, 183 pp

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