Just the Tonic

Expat Academy Just the Tonic January’s London Network Huddles were just the tonic for taking on the year ahead, providing the opportunity to meet with familiar faces once again and also welcome new ones.

As always, the Huddles started with some fun, learning about member New Year traditions and resolutions before turning to look at GM priorities for 2022.

Did you know that in Spain, eating twelve grapes symbolises the bringing of good luck for twelve months? And that many Ecuadorians set fire to paper-filled scarecrows at midnight and burn old photographs that represent bad memories in order to banish any ill fortune? One member amongst us even took to the Atlantic Ocean to jump seven waves hoping for good luck as they entered the new year. Brrr!

Some more common themes included work-life balance resolutions, healthier eating, reducing screen time and Netflix bingeing, which I can certainly relate to. Let’s see how long our good intentions last!

Conversations took on a more serious turn as we explored what’s on everyone’s agenda for 2022. There were some new topics discussed (and as expected, some longer standing) including the future of work, creating a positive assignee experience through stability and day-to-day delivery, revisiting old policies, embedding new ones, remote working, sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). The conversations could have gone on for a full day!

Next, Raj Mann, PwC took us on a whistle-stop tour around the globe and suggested what global travel restrictions we can expect for 2022. The burning question of announcements around new travel restrictions and variants was addressed. We heard about the likelihood of borders closing quickly in response to new variants and if not fully closing then a greater complexity in crossing them, however, there are no blanket plans. It was noted that The World Health Organisation attributes vaccine nationalism as one of the reasons for these new variants.

Further discussions conceded that whilst DE&I has been on the agenda for a while it has more recently moved up the priority list, with organisations recognising they are not accessing the full talent pool for assignments. However, specific actions and real progress are limited. There is acknowledgement that GM play a key role as an enabler in the DE&I space but cannot be a master of all. Third party relationships are critical, therefore, in terms of supporting and advising the assignee population.

We are always blown away by the engaging and insightful corporate updates provided by our members at the Huddles. This time we had the pleasure of welcoming Andrea David, Chanel to the Club 100 Network and Fiona Shaw, United Health Group, to the Symposium Huddle. A lingering thought from both sessions is the need to be able to talk to assignees and listen to their individual needs rather than always sticking with set policy approaches.

Thank you to all those who joined us for these jam-packed Huddles and for all your contributions to the break-out sessions. We hope you found these events to be a valuable way to start the year, build important relationships and give focus to the next few months. Here’s to 2022 and the ongoing success of our ever-evolving function. Until the next London Huddles at the end of March.

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