The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: Business Visas in Turkmenistan.
By Gina Tonic
My most interesting conversation in recent days opened as follows:
“So, what do you know about Turkmenistan”
Not much, I thought but I feel a headache coming on. Is Monday morning too early for a G&T, I wondered?
“I suspect it’s warmer than England at the moment”, I replied. It is; it’s a balmy 13C in Ashgabat as I write this. (Thank you internet)
Definition of Insanity
Anyway, back to the matter in hand: Turkmenistan. It would appear that we need a team to go there to do some legitimate business visa type activities. They had applied for business visas, with the support of the local client but the application had been rejected. So naturally, they applied again, with the exact same result. The team were somehow surprised at this turn of events. Meanwhile images of Homer Simpson come to my mind!
To be fair, I suppose it is the same approach as they take with the Global Mobility (GM) team; keep asking the same thing and you’ll eventually wear us down and we’ll just let you do whatever mad thing you want to do this time.
Time for Global Mobility to step in
They were now looking for input from GM to see what we could do about resolving the issue; you know, because we know everything ever about global immigration. Given that the Beast from the East seemed to have scuppered my travel plans and almost all hope of getting home at a reasonable hour this evening, I agreed to have a look and asked for the basics. The actual application wasn’t available as the local client had done the paperwork (simultaneously convenient and inconvenient!) Back to square one we went. Who’s on the team and what nationality are they? Which bit of the sprawling company empire employs them? What exactly will they be doing and how long will they be staying?
Fast forward past an email exchange and a couple of phone calls with our long-suffering immigration partner (I think I’m going to have to start paying those folks to continue their engagement with us!) they couldn’t come up with any reasons why the application might have been refused. For a change, there were no immediate red flags around nationalities, activities or duration.
Common sense is a wonderful thing
So, I reported back to the business and asked again if there was any possibility of the application paperwork being made available. I don’t know if I’d worn them down or they just wanted my help, but they put me directly in touch with the local client contact. Common sense is a wonderful thing when it shows up. We had a nice little chat, he and I; it was definitely a little chat given my non-existent ability to speak Turkmen. He willingly shared the application packs with me and having looked through them I was as wise as ever. Nothing specifically looked out of place or ambiguous. Until I looked at the company name; our company that is, not the client.
Sometimes it’s all in the name
Now we are not a household name, we are one of those companies where you have to say the name and follow-up with an explanation of what it is we do. Much like explaining that a Mobility Manager has nothing to do with stair-lifts or wheelchairs. We do however pride ourselves on being able to spell the company name and we expect others to do likewise! Perhaps it was the combination of Latin and Cyrillic alphabet that caused confusion but something had definitely gone awry with the spelling on these applications. A quick word with Google led to some search results detailing a company with this very name and some very, let’s just say, less than palatable activities! Could the answer really be as simple as a spelling error?
As the Beast from the East exits west and Storm Emma washes away the remains of the snow, I am pleased to report that at the third time of asking, the visa applications were successful and the team are now scheduled to arrive in Turkmenistan in a little over a week! GM were described as “superstars” by the global account director for this client.
If that doesn’t deserve a large G&T, I don’t know what does!