The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager – Prioritising and Patience

By Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager - Prioritising and Patience Dear Diary,

Monday morning always starts very predictably.  I mentally plot to work through my to do list, focused on those challenging tasks first (expenses, compliance trainings etc).  By around 10 am, my plans are typically reworked several times as new fires and flames are fuelled and land with me either over phone, instant message, email or often all 3 simultaneously.

Predictably, these ‘fires’ often centre around Angola.  Today’s fire alarm is an understandably enraged assignee who has been patiently waiting for his Angolan work permit for close to 14 months.   Typically, 4-6 months is the standard for Angolan work permits, but due to a local omission of the individual’s role from the quota then this time we were left waiting for nearly three times longer.  Once his work permit had been finally issued, with great joy his assignment manager was ready to onboard him on to the international payroll.  All his assignment details were recalculated and ready to share, except there’s a rather significant financial impact to the assignee.  On his balance sheet, the goods and services have declined from $60k per annum to $7k, and the high-risk premium for Angola has been eliminated so he’s also $10k down versus his original offer.

This is a phone call I was not thrilled to be making!  I took the usual precautions and posted his manager, HR etc, and then share the revised assignment allowances.  Of course, 14 months ago he should have been told allowances can go up or down, but the reality is when an offer looks $60k down then it’s painful.  I share the data points, the Angolan Kwanza has tanked against the USD in 2018, but it’s still a painful blow, and the business’s patience is wearing thin (after 14 months I’m impressed they have any patience left).  Three days later, and four calls utilising exchange rate graphics, cost of living surveys, data analysis and external vendors on the phone and we have a way forward and this employee is finally onboarded onto the international payroll.

Whilst this fire is being put out, another fire is building in South Africa.  One of our assignees out of Nigeria into South Africa, has heard about some local Union rumblings. Well, this particular assignee is on a Global Employment contract for the assignment to South Africa, so we don’t need to worry about Nigerian union issues do we???  This assignee is claiming she’s on a dual contract, but this can’t be??  We diligently pull out the assignment contracts, and I should mention, this assignee is one of our few ‘exceptions’. You know the ones, they’ve been on assignment forever and for some reason can’t be localised, won’t move elsewhere, and stand out on your assignment stats like a sore thumb.  We scour the assignment contract and the multiple extensions, and there it is the offending language ‘You are employed on a dual contract with Nigeria entity’………………………..AAARRGGGHHH.

So, a historic error has cost the Company, and we are now obliged to pay out some Nigerian contractual allowances that have been recently negotiated with the Unions.  I’m equally not thrilled to have to make this phone call but this time the employee’s reaction is, as you’d expect, joy at this unexpected windfall.

So as these fires are dampened, my expenses and the compliance training are becoming dangerously close to being overdue, so that’s it, next Monday I’m DEFINITELY going to get to them and I’m going to localise this assignee in South Africa!!!!

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