How to Become an International Business Manager

Richard Branson

Multinational or transnational corporations hire international business managers to coordinate business operations across several countries. An international business manager must have an exceptional grasp of global business practices and be familiar with the political, economic and social conditions of several countries. Keep reading to learn how you can join and excel in this profession.

See also: The Key Qualities of a Successful Manager

What do international business managers do?

Their day-to-day duties include:

  • Serving as a link between business branches in foreign markets and corporate headquarters
  • Monitoring political and economic developments in the various countries an organizations operates
  • Keeping senior corporate executives updated on these developments
  • Identifying new foreign markets and spearheading the establishment of business operations in these markets
  • Monitoring the activities of other multinational companies
  • Ensuring business branches adhere to relevant local laws and regulations
  • Developing and implementing training programs for the leaders or managers of the various branches
  • Planning and executing the company’s global strategy

Work environment

International business managers are usually based in a corporation’s headquarters (home country). Although these managers typically work from 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, some circumstances (like differences in time zones) may force them to work around the clock.

The job involves extensive travel. International business managers have a duty to visit branches in various countries and report back to the headquarters. As such, they may be forced to spend quite a bit of time away from their loved ones.


According to Indeed, international business managers earn an average annual salary of $82,000.

Training and education

The journey to becoming an international business manager begins in undergraduate school, where you should earn a bachelor’s degree in international business. Although you can also go for a traditional business degree, international business should be your top priority, as it enables you to specialize in global business right from the first year of study. Examples of the topics you will learn include:

  • International trade laws
  • International transportation and logistics
  • International business finance
  • International marketing
  • Entering international markets

Some of the universities offering the program are:

  • Schiller International University, Florida
  • Ashford University, California
  • Liberty University, Virginia

Once you graduate, you can look for employment opportunities in multinational companies. Don’t expect to immediately secure a position that specifically deals with international business. Your aim should be to gain business management experience.

As you continue working, build on your undergraduate training by pursuing a master’s degree in international business, like the one offered at Florida International University.

At this point, you are qualified to competently discharge the functions of an international business manager.

Important skills and qualities

  • Excellent leadership skills
  • Solid business skills
  • Strong coordinating skills
  • Strong planning skills
  • Clear communication skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills
  • Decision making skills
  • Analytical skills
  • Skills in personnel management
  • An interest in global businesses
  • Good market research skills
  • Good computer skills
  • Good reporting writing skills
  • Presentation skills

Career advancement

As an ambitious international business manager, you have the potential to scale the heights of corporate leadership and governance.

While it is important to gain more experience, your career progression will largely depend on your competence.  If you are able to effectively manage the challenges that come with operating a business in multiple countries, as well as help the corporation to successfully venture into new foreign markets, then you can easily advance into senior positions.

You should also focus on broadening your knowledge by pursuing executive courses on international business or corporate leadership.

Also, join professional associations such as the American Management Association to access additional professional development resources, such as industry conferences and training workshops.

Job opportunities

You can be hired by a multinational company in any industry, be it construction, engineering, manufacturing, telecommunications or pharmaceuticals.

In time, you can secure a top corporate job, like vice president of operations or even corporate president.

Finally, the signing of trade agreements between nations will accelerate the expansion of globalization in the coming years. Businesses will have a greater incentive to go global and earn more profits. This will drive the demand for international business managers.

So if you think you got what it takes to manage a business in the international marketplace, this could be the right profession for you.