The overseas driver

I have come across non security drivers in countless countries abroad. Skills vary, judgement varies and driving skills definitely vary. A driver in Liberia is sure to make you soil yourself before one in france. I recently had a highly regarded driver in Italy driving through the Italian mountains and text at the same time. When I brought it to his attention he basically looked at me like I was from Mars. Instantaneously I knew where the problem came from. Educating him on the front end.

In my previous trips abroad I’ve always had the luxury of being in the AO prior to arrival of the principal or having a specialist in the area of operations ahead of us. This allows for some level of meeting with your hired support staff and educating them on your expectations and in many cases, breaking bad habits. In this particular case I had to have a one on one with him when my principal went to his room.

Before I go any further let me say that I did have the numbers of the driver and luggage van prior to my arrival. When I called to brief them on the pick up and subsequent trip he had not been given the orders that he would be handling my arrival. Consequently the phone conversation went awry. Side note here. Unless you have assets abroad, most of the high end hotels manage what limo and car services work at their hotels. There is a commission factor involved in who pulls up curbside.

When I spoke to my driver I gave him the basic do and don’t do speech. Basically, drivers- drive talk. Thats all I need you to do. Nothing more, nothing less. I am stern but not to the point where it’s construed as the “bully” american is in town and it’s my way or the highway.

You’ll know when you lose your driver, because the language barrier will be their way of basically shutting you down. It’s amazing how someone can converse with you in a very manageable way and a day later, ” I don’t understand” is the response to every command. In the end it all falls back on you. Their success is your celebration. Their failure is your lack of preparation.

Just like any other driver, you have to feed them or you’ll lose them. I’ve found that internationals don’t do the “bring lunch to work” thing. So it’s important to fit that in.

The main component of this blog is this: on top of all of the hurdles you have to deal with going international, having a driver that is foreign can be a crutch or asset depending on your management of the situation.

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