Dealing with dual careers

For international career couples to have long term success, team work and critical thinking is crucial. Reflections from our Key Resource Person from Italy, now residing in Denmark; Chiara Canali.

By Chiara Canali

In defining professional success, individual achievements, passion and a good deal of stamina are pivotal but, still, only part of the game. A Harvard Business Review by B. Groysberg and R. Abrahams (2014)1 reports that a significant contribution to career advancement comes from combining home and work, involving the family in work decisions and initiatives.

In this regards, international assignments and relocation carry family responsibilities but may be indeed a source of success for everyone at home. Travel and relocation are a signal of open-mindedness, willingness to build skill diversity and explore cultural and linguistic difference, which can be a great source of enrichment for kids as well. For this, it is important to ensure that the prospect of a global career for a family member can create better opportunities for everyone in the family.

Mutual support is key

To succeed, both partners must be able to support each other with career strategy, work, stress coping, and practicalities related to the integration in a new country. In fact, a strong cooperative mindset within the family and partner support can be positively associated with work success (Friedman and Greenhaus, 2000)2 and foster an effective integration in the local community.

Networking is central for dual career support and includes networks within both universities and institutions, including regional services (Friedman and Greenhaus, 2000) 2. Beyond nurturing the social aspect, network gatherings are a source of inspiration and valuable occasions for knowledge sharing and awareness on soft skills and mindset relevant to the new country’s culture.

Doing the netWORKING

My experience with global dual careers started almost three years ago when my better half relocated to Denmark to join me. Since then, we have both been through other temporary relocations and several international assignments for education purposes, career development, and work. It has been a steep process, driven by ambition and wish for self-improvement in a still hectic life.

What has made the difference in that is our mutual support and critical thinking in pursuing career opportunities, as well as openness towards others. No matter where we moved, and besides the social opportunities related to university and work, the internet has played an important role in expanding our international and local network by searching for activities matching our interests. Contributing with our skills to our network and sharing experiences in multi-cultural settings has been a great source of inspiration, reflection, and growth of a diversified cultural background, which is nowadays vital for living and working in a global society.

So, has it been worth the international ride?

Overall, our choice for continuous career development internationally has been amazingly positive. One of the differentiators in terms of opportunities for global dual careers is certainly the city of relocation. As we primarily experienced, international cities with well-ranked universities and international companies like Copenhagen, London, and Grenoble offer gathering opportunities and diversified professional and leisure activities. In this respect, the hiring companies of the global work market have the responsibility of supporting their employees in managing dual careers. Such support can be a noteworthy payoff in terms of international employees’ engagement, productivity, and retention, as well as team empowerment for cultural experience and skills diversity.


Groysberg B. and Abrahams R. (2014) “Manage your work, manage your life. Zero in on what really matters.” HBR

Diekman A. B., Eagly A. H. (2000) “Stereotypes as dynamic constructs: women and men of the past, the present and the future.” Pers Soc Psychol Bull 26:1171–1188

Chiara Canali is a pharma and biotech professional and expert networker. She is also a Key Resource person at here we are. She is of Italian nationality and currently lives in Denmark.


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