The Tribune Company, Chicago Tribune
September 1, 2003
SECTION: Business (Special to the Tribune)
BYLINE: Elana Centor
Spousal careers continue via Web
Expatriates can keep jobs, start over after move
At noon Central European Summer Time, Carolyn Moncel walks
into her Parisian home office, turns on her computer and begins
her workday, seven hours ahead of and 4,147 miles away from
her clients in Chicago.
Moncel is part of a small number of expatriates who have found
ways to run their businesses, virtually, while following their
spouses or loved ones on international assignments.
In this cross-cultural community, Moncel is known as a "trailing
spouse"-- the spouse who doesn't have the job abroad.
Most are forced to choose between a sabbatical from work or
a job teaching English as a second language. Others volunteer
at expatriate schools or study language full-time because it
is difficult to find work. Occasionally, a few land jobs in
But technology has given Moncel another choice.
She opted to continue operating her Chicago-based business,
Motion Temps, a firm that manages administrative tasks for other
companies. When she started the firm in 2001, she intended to
operate it from Chicago, but her husband landed a career opportunity
he could not pass up.
"My husband is French, and we had talked about living here
sometime in the future--I just didn't think it would happen
until 2004 or 2005," Moncel said, adding that her husband's
offer to work at CAST Software in France came after he finished
his master's degree and began to worry about the job market
in Chicago. "It was perfect for him. But my business had just
celebrated its first-year anniversary and I was 7 1/2 months
pregnant. I wasn't sure it was a good idea."
The nature of her existing business made it easier for Moncel
to transfer operations to Paris. With her computer, Moncel handles
her clients' invoicing, correspondence and desktop publishing.
Since the move, she has managed to retain about half of her
While some clients were skeptical that Moncel would be able
to continue providing the kind of support they needed, some
have found the time difference to be an asset.
"I can leave things for Carolyn to do in the afternoon, and
they will be ready first thing in the morning," said Kelly [Kalmes],
principal of Project
Knowledge, a Chicago-based consulting and coaching firm
specializing in project management. "Having Carolyn as my executive
assistant is giving me a company that runs 24/7." Moncel and
[Kalmes] have networking software that gives each of them access
to the other's computer, making it easy to share files.
Moncel continues to handle much of [Kalmes]' correspondence,
including e-mail and voice mail. Moncel uses an Internet phone
service that charges about 3 cents a minute--a cost she does
not charge back to the client.
"People are truly shocked when they learn my executive assistant
is in Paris. It's completely seamless," [Kalmes] said. ...