The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: So what do you do?

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: So what do you do?

After a recent meeting with our Payroll team, where I was explaining the new Global Mobility (GM) set up now that we have outsourced to an external Relocation Management Company (RMC), the question was asked ‘So what do you do?’.

All in a day’s work

Ha…Let’s take a look at my diary yesterday:

  1. Call with multiple stakeholders around a social security issue in Italy
  2. Bi-weekly regional GM meeting
  3. Another call around a social security issue in France
  4. GM Ops meeting
  5. Call with Reward to talk about Turkish pensions
  6. Call with an HRBP to discuss how we can cost-up a potential assignment without going through the formal processes – for which we don’t have Cost of Living data for anyway and will cost thousands to procure.
  7. Meeting with Compensation team to discuss our first non-US expat with the new RMC
  8. GM meeting to discuss feedback from an expat about…us
  9. Meeting with the Director of International Comp & Bens to discuss business travellers.

So, what do I do? In truth, it’s really hard to describe what I do. So, I kind of just scoffed, laughed, and explained some of the meetings I had that day.

Time for a new job title?

But it made me think. What does an in-house Global Mobility professional, working for a company who have outsourced the management of their assignments, do? On the face of it, I understand the confusion, but other job titles just won’t cover all the tasks:

  • Personal Problems Counsellor,
  • Fixer of Company-Wide Problems That No-One Else Will Fix,
  • Go-Between for Other Parties,
  • Setter-Upper of New Company Entities,
  • People and Their Items Mover,
  • Travel Agent,
  • Security Advisor,
  • Common Sense Injector,
  • Legal Document Reviewer,
  • Get You Out of Prison Helper,
  • Find A Way to Get Your Cat to France Person,
  • I Dare You to Bring Me A Problem No One Has Ever Heard Of…Manager.

Then there are the ‘normal’ GM tasks of course, creating Balance Sheets for assignees, Cost of Living reviews, Housing Allowance reviews, supplier reviews, creating assignment documents etc. much of which has been outsourced. These outsourced tasks are part of the job, but not all and that’s why there’s still over 30 of us in-house doing things that no one knows about or appreciates! Some people still actually don’t know GM exists and that’s the challenge in justifying that elusive seat at the table everyone seems to want. But when international business travellers become everyone’s problem – which is now – they will know about GM because we’ll be the ones fixing the problems!

Changing the organisation’s view of GM

What else would I do to change this? Well, I’m already having a go – I’m inviting myself to everyone else’s meetings! I go to Talent’s, Reward’s, HR Leadership’s, all of them, and it will be a slow process. People still talk about expats right in front of me without the light bulb moment that I’m right there, but it will just give me a sense of achievement when someone says “oh that sounds like you’re talking about assignments, you should go and speak to Gina”.

To people I meet socially, I tend to say Global Mobility kind of comes under HR, but it’s not HR. It’s HR in the sense that it’s to do with people…it’s like shipping, but people…but not people trafficking! And then I go into detail about balance sheets, secondments and allowances and that seems to calm things down, albeit bore them too as their eyes seem to glaze over. But I avoid talking about all those other ad-hoc tasks.

Oh crikey I could not do that job’ is usually the response. Should I be insulted?! Or feel complimented? I go for the latter because I’m just a half-glass-full sort of person. ‘Not having clear guidance on what to do would drive me mad’. That’s certainly true for some people but I imagine it’s the appeal for others. I guess it’s why I don’t dread Mondays because, really, how can you dread something you don’t know is coming, or not!

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