Should Maggie return home to Hong Kong? She was not even called Maggie before she left, but Mei Ling – a symbol of the differences she anticipates dealing with if she returns home. After completing secondary school and university in the United States, she worked as a banker for three years in London. Then she moved to France to get an MBA, hoping to use the time to weigh the decision about going back to Hong Kong. While it had been extremely difficult to leave her family, she adjusted and flourished in the US, Britain and France. She loved her independence and the fact that every day felt like the beginning of a new adventure, but she started to experience a growing desire to go home. Returning to Hong Kong meant looking for a way to continue her exciting career in banking, while recapturing relationships with family and friends. How could she integrate those relationships and her career potential into the life of the new Maggie – the woman that she had become? Globalisation has facilitated the possibility of education and work abroad for many women like Maggie. Life is now viewed through different lenses after an extended period of living and working across geographical and cultural boundaries. Many of these women head “home”, hoping to integrate the multiple perspectives they have learned from their global experience with the familiarity and comfort of being “at home”. But re-entry can be one of the most challenging aspects of their global voyage. If not prepared and carefully managed, it can be a period of dashed hopes and lost careers. If managed successfully, however, women like Maggie can be among the rising stars of Asia. What can facilitate the process of going home? I have been interviewing women I call “global cosmopolitans” who share Maggie’s dilemma. While they know this is an exciting time to work in Asia, their concerns about continuing their life voyage abroad need to be outweighed by the chance to use their acquired skills and experience in what was once “home”. Such global cosmopolitans face serious questions about the feasibility of holding onto their new identities and abilities rather than falling back to the constraints of a previous existence. A useful first step in confronting these issues is taking the time to understand and articulate their personal narrative. This helps contribute to a clarity about the meaning of their journey, and what is necessary to negotiate the next career steps. The gains from a global journey can be invisible, even to the individual. It is particularly important to find a way to understand and express what has been learned and how it can be used in future life and work. It can give an important perspective on what has really changed and what has remained the same. For many women, taking an opportunity to put the identity that they have developed in relation to their cultural origins is crucial. That is part of the integration challenge. For example, global experience can mean much more than acquiring new linguistic and cultural knowledge. It gives the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives and cultural lenses. Maggie left Hong Kong as an excellent student, fluent in English but very attached to her parents and their guidance on how things should be done. Her challenges at boarding school, which seemed difficult at the time, helped her understand how to read new environments, get appropriate help, and how to live and work with people who were very different. As she learned how to read new messages about appropriate behaviour, she began to make lifelong friends with people very different from herself. Realising that the process of adaptation and change were crucial elements to her success, she has been able to adapt quite easily to new environments. This same skill can facilitate the learning of how to guide organisations struggling to succeed in new or rapidly changing markets. Yet, adaptation can sometimes become a trap. Women unable to engage in a constructive dialogue with their organisation and work colleagues risk being alienated and losing their creative voice of a different experience as they try to “fit in”. The women I have spoken to are looking for organisations that are open to change and difference, which often translates into being open to women with global experience. Many women envision nightmare scenarios if they return to traditional organisations. Even women who have been sponsored by their Asian company for education and work experience abroad have been disappointed upon their return at the difficulty of colleagues and sponsors to recognise how they have changed and accept their new ideas. Other returnees hope to work in a start-up or start their own business. This could be a chance to combine new ideas and skills learned abroad with their familiarity with home markets. But when you have not been home for a while, finding partners, networking and funding can be challenging, even if a person has relationships with family and friends from the past. While their entourage may be happy to have her home, the group may also represent resistance by treating and relating to the changed returning individual as if she had not been away. The returning global cosmopolitan wants and needs understanding and acceptance of who she is now. After years of confronting the challenges of change in their personal lives, these women express concerns about losing parts of their newfound identity. It is the ability to sustain and find support for the developed identity while managing the cultural stereotypes as well as the unchanged expectations of family and friends that is the fundamental challenge of the returnee. While many will revert to past identities or flee to the locations where they can be accepted for their new identity, those who successfully manage these dilemmas can be the rising stars leading growth and success in Asian businesses. Linda Brimm is emeritus professor of organisational behaviour at INSEAD business school, which has campuses in France, Singapore and Abu Dhabi.