the tricultural premium

February 2020 

Globalisation, ubiquitous air travel, and the growth of MBA programs led to the emergence of a whole new class of people. Born in Country A, learned in Country B, professional in Country B; moving fluidly between geographies/cultures/careers and social networks. 

Colloquially they are known as bicultural people/professionals/executives/kids. 

The US & its policies (economic, social) played a major role in enabling this. As the global anchor of trade/culture/immigration and technological developments from the 80’s through the early 2000’s, the US has been a crucible of this category of people … and the surplus created by this has been felt positively all over the world. 

Chinese-American, Indian-American, Iranian-American, Irish-American are fairly common terms we hear and speak all around us. 

Bicultural people excelled tremendously in their newly adopted countries (professionally, socially, and so on), but at the same time had a massive premium when they went back to where they came from. Having brought back the much needed exposure of “how things are done” in the West, many doors open up back home. 

Bicultural execs got higher salaries, faster promotions, a seat at the table on most important decision making fora, and so on. Not just Industry, this premium is seen across Government, Academia, and even the Arts. 

You can tell where I am going with this, it has been a X-American dominated era of bicultural professionals. 

That said, we are now at the cusp of a new era — the age of “tricultural” era. 

As China surges in global (starting with sharing the stage, to become an equal partner with the US) tech, policy, capital, and cultural relevance … a new class of people with China experience/exposure is becoming a crucial ingredient. MNCs, Startups, Asset Managers, Think Tanks, and Academia are going to increasingly place a premium on China credentials. 

X-America-China is the new tricultural premium

Many of you are probably already seeing this play out in your lines of work. Naturally, existing bicultural folks have a leg up in this new race. 

Exciting times! 

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