The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager – An assignee to Luanda in three weeks?

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager - An assignee to Luanda in three weeks? Dear Diary,

Another satisfying week at the helm of the GloMo ship comes to a close and to round it off nicely, I actually managed to make the time to catch up on my filing this afternoon when the normally ignored “Weekly inbox purge” notification flashed up in my reminders. Endlessly assigning my hundreds of exchanges to the relevant case folders is indeed rather monotonous, but I like to think of it as a trip down memory lane – especially when I haven’t done it for a few weeks (read: months) – and boy did I stumble upon a blast from the past today…

Thus far in this organisation, I have been very lucky in that we don’t typically send our people to locations beyond the key world financial centres and our moves tend to be very well trodden paths when it comes to ticking off the normal assignment lifecycle milestones like immigration – but then there was Bob, all 438 email exchanges’ worth.

‘Jenny, pls e-meet Bob (copied) – need to get him into Luanda in three weeks. Says immigration shouldn’t be an issue; he is on it already. Rgds, Frank. Sent from my iPhone; please excuse any typographical errors.’

Whilst I dealt with the emotional turmoil of yet another completely left-field attempt at my name (I mean…Jenny surely is not just a typo), I couldn’t help but wonder how Bob could be on top of his immigration paperwork for Angola as I had been reading about the long wait times and heavy employer intervention required to secure the necessary clearances. To satisfy my curiosity, I picked up the phone to him.

Gina darling,’ he responded with silky confidence, ‘don’t worry, this will be an easy one for your team. I know a guy who knows a guy in the Angolan embassy and he is going to call in a favour to get me an express Angolan passport based on ancestors I once had there so no need to even worry about work permits!’ I really wanted to believe that silky – almost mesmerising – Cotswoldian twang but my years of mobility roller coaster rides just wouldn’t let me. I decided to play it safe as any respectable mobility professional would do and I left Bob to it whilst I did some detective work with our immigration provider on the requirements for traditional work authorisation. Meanwhile, one of my mobility consultants (or Gina’s Angels – as the other HR teams enviously like to call them) set to work on clarifying whether our insurance would even cover Bob in Angola and what security protocols we would need to follow.

To cut a long story short, fast forward 80 email exchanges and a lot of not-so-kind regards later, we get to the position where – finally – everyone has come around to the fact that Bob being on the ground in Angola in three weeks just isn’t feasible if we are to follow the correct procedures and respect our duty of care to him. It’s amazing what a tactical “Cc: HR Director” can do to reinforce my advice. Everyone settles on a revised target start date of 10 weeks’ time and the wheels finally get in motion on the right tracks.

But what about the subsequent 358 emails on Bob’s case I hear you say…those will just have to wait for another day I’m afraid as there is a G&T with my name on it waiting in the conservatory.

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