Global Mobility professionals’ turn in the spotlight

In recent years, global mobility professionals have tried to fight their way out of the small corner of the HR, Compensation and Benefits or Reward function and tried to secure themselves a seat at the top table, seeking a more strategic role within organisations. A move away from just the transactional and administrative role previously played.

Expat Academy Global Mobility professionals' turn in the spotlight  So why do global mobility professionals think it is important to be viewed as a strategic partner within their organisation?

Because to do the administrative and transactional side effectively and efficiently, the Global Mobility function needs to move from reactive to proactive. To be proactive, the Global Mobility function needs to know the direction the organisation is heading at the same time as senior figures are discussing different strategies. This gives the Global Mobility function time to highlight issues, consequences and additional impacts of certain strategies, that the organisation’s leaders may not have considered, at the right moment in the discussions.

For example, looking short term, it’s no use the organisation deciding to open an office in a new location if it is primarily relying on its existing staff to be seconded out there within a few weeks and it takes 6 months to get the necessary visa processed. In addition, with such a brief time frame they may not be able to pay them in that location or report correctly!

Looking longer term, if the organisation decide that every c-suite executive must have international experience then this needs to be factored into the career development path of the organisation’s upcoming rising stars.

So does this mean that Global Mobility professionals need to broaden their skillset further?

Fundamentally yes. Whilst historically, most Global Mobility professionals have entered the world of Global Mobility via an HR, tax or relocation background, have picked up additional skills along the way, and have a broad knowledge base as well as awesome problem-solving abilities; now it is important to be a fantastic relationship builder. To do this well, they need to be able to:

  • Define and highlight the benefits, achievements and role of the Global Mobility function.
  • Easily demonstrate the Global Mobility function’s breadth of knowledge, skills and advisory abilities.
  • Provide good objective data on how global mobility can assist the organisation with their goals and strategy.
  • And most fundamentally share all of the above with the key stakeholders within the business.

Whilst many Global Mobility professionals try to become strategic partners, they often struggle to rise above the day to day administration. Therefore, before starting down the strategic route it is important to look at one or more of the following areas to reduce the level of day to day firefighting and administration:

  • Still working from excel spreadsheets or different systems not fit for purpose? Bring in a technology solution to provide good objective data.
  • Undertake a review of current processes to ensure they are as streamlined as possible.
  • Outsource some of the standard assignment administration such as cost estimates, assignment letters, vendor initiations etc.
  • Look to bring in additional internal resource (I know, I can see the raised eyebrows now – ‘additional internal resource’……. it’s easier to get blood out of a stone!!)

Why is now the right time to put Global Mobility under the spotlight?

So, if the Global Mobility function is not already a strategic partner, why is now a good time to take a step back, reassess and aim for a seat at the top table and a strategic partnership with the organisation?

Current political, economic, social, technological, legal and environmental (PESTLE) changes are giving organisations increased uncertainty in a rapidly changing market place. As an organisation’s concern increases over issues of tax compliance, short term business visitor (STBV) immigration compliance, employee safety in regions that were once considered safe, now is Global Mobility’s opportunity to take centre stage under the spotlight and show the skillset that can help the organisation with so many of these issues.

Recently at our Expat Academy Extravaganza Mark Derksen, Head of International Mobility at Arup, provided an interesting presentation about ensuring you have a C suite sponsor so that Global Mobility is listened to and valued at that level. Sometimes the easiest way of doing this is having an initial conversation with a senior stakeholder that has been an expat and understands the value of the Global Mobility function already – there’s at least half a foot in the door straight away!

In addition, many of our Expat Academy members have been working on the profile of the Global Mobility team within their organization and I’m sure would share their own stories! Why not join them at the next network huddle in January 2018 to discuss current issues, challenges and receive expert advice and input from Expat Academy and the network sponsors. Click here to head through to our events page and register for either the Symposium Huddle on 9th January 2018 or the Club 100 Huddle on 17th January 2018.


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