Before the world descended into lock down, I decided to take on a brand-new role in an up and coming tech company that has experienced rapid growth opening five offices internationally and looking at opening another two this year. The opportunity to build a Global Mobility department from scratch seemed like an exciting challenge.
Time to get up to speed
My first two weeks were spent at their Head office in the US, having an induction, meeting several stakeholders and trying to get to grips with understanding how Global Mobility has been managed to date. I quickly learned that as there had been no Global Mobility person in house, any mobility related activities were managed by a myriad of people.
In my first week I was told that immigration (up to then managed by the legal team in the US), would come under my remit with responsibility over US immigration (about 150 cases a year) as well as five immigration providers in five countries. The legal team had also started making inquiries to appoint another immigration firm for the two locations where we were planning on opening offices.
My immediate question was why so many immigration providers? In the US everyone is very happy with a boutique type US provider which doesn’t have an international presence. However, every time they expanded into a new location, they used the law firm for their incorporation paperwork for immigration services without proper research on whether they could properly support immigration services. This meant that the standard of service the company was receiving was not very high.
So, unlike many RFP projects that drop down a To Do list, on my 1st Friday with my new company I put together a RFP to find a global immigration provider in order to consolidate all the immigration services into one firm, keeping the US immigration firm for the US.
I invited 4 immigration providers to complete the RFP (2 came through contacts at the Expat Academy, 1 had already been contacted by my new company, and the final one was one of my contacts who was very keen to be involved). There was a sense of urgency to appoint a firm as soon as possible to support the opening of the two offices. Nevertheless, we conducted our due diligence and appointed one of the immigration firms to support us. I have to admit this current reduction in travel makes the onboarding we’re going through somewhat easier and a little less pressurised.
Stumbling across another challenge
In my second week, just by chance I was invited to a call with our UK payroll provider and the US international payroll team (who has little knowledge of UK payroll) to find out that we had an audit from HMRC in the UK on expenses (not mobility related) and received a questionnaire about inbound expats to the UK and we had 2 weeks to respond. Having been involved in a HMRC audit in the past, I still have the scars!!
I immediately jumped on it, gathered all the information about our processes and past practices around UK inbound expats’ compensation and payroll/shadow payroll and informed the UK Head of HR, the Finance director and the Reward Manager – none of whom were aware of this audit! Must to my horror no-one really understood the importance and significance of an audit in the UK.
Painstakingly I worked with the (slow at responding) internal tax advisor from the UK payroll provider who prepared a draft response. This response was so poorly written and general that I had to involve our global tax advisors to rework it (considering the tight timescales, I gave them 2 days). By the HMRC deadline, to my delight, we had a response ready. However, it took another week for the payroll/finance team to approve it and send it.
What a start!
Thankfully we received a response from HMRC a couple of days ago confirming they were happy with our response and were closing the audit. I can honestly say that without my involvement the outcome wouldn’t have been the same.
With two major projects in my first two weeks I am now hoping that, after taking a week’s holiday, Global Mobility can continue at its usual speed!!