The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager – The B Word

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager - The B Word

Dear Diary,

After losing yet another day on Brexit I begin to wonder what I would otherwise be doing with my time. Would I be implementing fantastic new policies that would be loved by our assignees and HR alike, or developing new processes that save my team countless hours? Maybe that’s wishful thinking but at least I wouldn’t be sending out assignee communications or making decisions that are out of date a few days later!

Time to put pen to paper?

I often say I could write a book on my dozen years in Global Mobility. I doubt I could exactly retire on the proceeds, but I think those of us in the mobility industry would have enough stories to make people’s jaws drop and eyes water. By the time Brexit actually happens I am sure it will have earned its own chapter, but until then I find myself reminiscing about the many days I have “lost” to other challenges of the job.

Bruno the pedigree Boxer dog for example, whose grandfather was “best in breed and show”, don’t you know! Surely the UK would be proud to have such a dog in the country, and can therefore make an exception on its quarantine policy? And of course, I was delighted to spend my morning phoning DEFRA to get absolute confirmation that they would not be making any exceptions, so I could give assurances to the HR Director.

Or the ex-FBI employee who had his shipment into the UAE pulled apart when customs found a photo of Saddam Hussein amongst his belongings. I never found out why he had it, but it must have been a shock for someone who was used to having his container sealed at origin and delivered without being touched. Yes, I think pets and shipments would warrant their own chapter too.

I remember in my very first week of training as a fresh-faced Mobility professional being shown pictures of an entire container ship listing on its’ side, the contents spilt out into the sea. Rather than running for the nearest emergency exit something inside my brain thought this could actually be a good career option (as long as nothing that bad happens on my watch), it certainly wouldn’t be dull! I have had shipments infested with mould which took months to finally resolve, and my colleague was unfortunate to have a crane drop the entire container of one employee whilst unloading (and of course he hadn’t fully valued his shipment for insurance purposes!).

Don’t get me started on dilapidations

My least favourite chapter to write about would be dilapidations. How do you tell an employee the landlord insists on a mid-lease professional clean because they are not meeting expectations of cleanliness? Or when you get a check-out report showing cracked tiles and damaged surfaces amounting to thousands and the employee has no idea why there is an issue. Those emails fill me with dread, in fact it’s probably best to stop there for fear of it appearing that I don’t love my job, because I do. Maybe less so on “those” days, but there are many more positive stories and always something new to learn. I think we secretly thrive on the horror stories, it’s like a badge of honour. But when I need to find a warm fuzzy place I just think of the positive assignee feedback I’ve seen over the years, where they have loved their experience or the support from GM has stopped them from leaving the company. Then I sip my cup of tea and smile – my work here is done!

One day Brexit will just be another one of those anecdotal stories when people ask what you do for a living, but for now it is just fondly known as “the B word”.

Sincerely yours,

Gina (aka dog whisperer, wand waverer, jack of all trades)

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