The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: VIP call on the bat phone

by Gina Tonic

Expat Academy The Secret Diary of a Global Mobility Manager: VIP call on the bat phone Dear Diary,

Barely had I finished my first large coffee of the day and a call comes in direct dial to the bat phone, which I’ve had installed for these VIP moments, from the HR Director.  The business had a Head of Operations vacancy in Malaysia, which they have struggled to fill, and they have now managed to find the right candidate – Hurrah!

Clearly, he’s been told about the role and why he’s the right person, but he needs to understand what the terms would be to support him and his family – fingers crossed no one has tried to tell him already.  So off I go with a spring in my step, bat cape flapping in the wind, to arrange an initial briefing call to give him a quick rundown.

During the call we go through all the usual elements of the package and he keeps very poker faced when I tell him about the generous allowances we provide our assignee, but I swear I can hear him rubbing his hands in glee and perhaps jumping up and down with excitement.  We then move on to the logistics and his dependents.  The candidate explains that his family includes his wife, 2 ‘dependent children’ (who are late teens with one already working), 2 dogs and a cat.  If that wasn’t enough, apparently his two horses are like family also and he couldn’t possibly leave to go on assignment without them (I’d decided it was better not to delve too deeply on this as it could turn emotive very quickly).

For some reason my words on what is a dependent, pet transport, practical considerations seemed to fall on deaf ears.  I know from previous conversations that the business is expanding internationally and desperate to resource talent, so I could sense a bun fight looming.  Before giving the HR Director a debrief I caught up with one of my HR colleagues who knew the candidate, so I shared my dilemma with them.  Once they had stopped braying like donkey with laughter, it came to light that perhaps he wasn’t the shiny star that had been proposed and it was perhaps a way for the business to deal with a Director of questionable performance / effectiveness.  So, we had one part of the business wanting to attract great talent and another part using it as an excuse to move ‘problem’ employees.

Although it would have been interesting to see the agent ship the menagerie of animals, as well as any additional livestock the candidate decided he couldn’t live without, it just goes to show what a pickle you can get into when there’s a vacuum of talent planning and candidate assessment.

Thankfully with a bit of tactful mediation it was decided that the candidate should not move. The business can thank its lucky stars it has managed to save itself a gazillion dollars, the cats, dogs, horses and lamas can all peacefully live long and happy lives in the welsh valleys and my blood pressure can return to normal levels!


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