A stint Down Under is often one of the more enjoyable rungs on the career ladder for rising executives looking to make their mark in a multinational company.
So much so that a two-year stretch can turn into forever for those who resist corporate calls to move onward and upward.
Forty-something American Joe Kremer, Dell's vice president for Australia, New Zealand and South Asia, is among those who've liked what they've seen and dug in their heels.
Dispatched from the hardware vendor's Texas headquarters in 2005 to run operations in Australia and New Zealand, Kremer had previously relocated within the US several times for work, and this time had prepped his family for a two- to three-year stay.
After two years in Sydney, the offers to move began to come – a significant job in Texas, a senior role in Europe, a transfer to Asia, another gig back home...
“With most multinationals, it's easier to progress your career if you're open-minded about geography,” Kremer says.
Reluctance to uproot his wife – herself the daughter of a corporate nomad – and three children played a large part in his decision to say 'no thanks' to the multiple opportunities dangled by Dell.
“She's had so many moves and she's so happy here,” Kremer says. “Happy wife, happy life … it's also a fabulous environment for children – clean, safe, good education, opportunities.”
Nine years on, he remains ensconced in a senior regional role and in 2013 the family became Australian citizens.
Kremer says he's fortunate that his employer has supported his choices and, with geography on the non-negotiable list to date, sent new challenges his way, including the chance to extend his jurisdiction to southern Asia.
“Dell has been fantastic,” Kremer says. “Over a period of time when you don't take assignments, you probably hold yourself up a bit … you have to find the right balance.”
For his part, Kremer says he's had to become 'very flexible' about the nature of his job and accept a gruelling travel schedule as part of the deal.
Sydney headhunter Ben Derwent says many expat executives find themselves pondering their work/life choices after calling Australia home for an extended period.
“We see many executives make their mark in Australia - destined for a bigger role within their multinational employer,” Derwent says.
“Australia is a tempting place to stay, often creating an interesting dynamic between lifestyle and career choice. Large global employers like IBM have an army of expats - many are likely to stay after their contract is served.”
Steve Shepherd, group director at recruitment consultancy Randstad, agrees. While younger workers relish the excitement and opportunities corporate life on the move presents, ambition is often tempered by a desire for stability as middle age approaches.
“There's a work/life balance people look for as they get older,” Shepherd says.
“Your career might reach a ceiling but you may be comfortable with that. It can be career limiting but we see through research that employees value work/life balance far more than they ever did. You could consider it career limiting, but you might consider it life enhancing.”
Convincing an employer to continue sponsoring a work visa while permanent residency is being sought is the biggest hurdle many face in their quest to remain. Those who've been deployed for a finite project, rather than a permanent position, may struggle.
Supply chain specialist Patrick Vialle, 48, had to fight to stay on when food giant Nestle sent him and his family to Australia back in 2000.
A French national, he had been working for the company in Italy and plumped for a posting to Sydney, ahead of a stretch in either the UK or Hungary.
“Initially in my mind it was another position in the group,” Vialle says. "I told my family we might stay three or four years."
Arriving in the closing week of the 2000 Olympic Games, the mood was one of bonhomie.
“It was a great atmosphere and time to arrive in Australia,” Vialle says. “Lifestyle-wise, workwise, people-wise … very quickly we made lots of friends in the Northern Beaches.”
Persuading regional management to keep him on and support his permanent residency application when his three-year business visa was due to expire was not straightforward, but Vialle says his persistence paid dividends.
“I had to fight a bit for it but got it,” he says. “I was able to get through the red tape in the end.”
He spent just two years of the following decade out of Australia, on an assignment to New Caledonia, which was accepted on the proviso that he would return to Sydney afterwards.
Now a senior supply chain manager at Parmalat in Brisbane, he was naturalised three years ago.