Global mobility market embraces change and technology

Worldwide ERC® Global Workforce Symposium in Seattle revealed the importance of global mobility in supporting talent and business growth across the globe. Fiona Murchie was there.

Seattle skyline
Relocate Magazine January 2019 Cover Read Now
This article is taken from the latest issue of 
Relocate magazine.
– the must read for HR, global managers and relocation professionals.The Worldwide ERC®’s Global Workforce Symposium in Seattle saw nearly 2000 international delegates exploring global mobility hot topics and future workforce requirements across the globe.Delegates were treated to a lively opening keynote from Seth Mattison, an internationally renowned author and expert on game-changing workforce trends and business performance. As Founder and Chief Movement Officer of Luminate Labs, Mr Mattison helps leading brands to navigate the future of work. He shared his insights on the power of the ‘Future-Maker’ – someone who is responsible for creating the future and inspiring others to do the same.He made a passionate plea for global mobility specialists to step into larger more strategic and expanded roles to create the future. With so much hinging on flawless execution in the mobility sphere – he argued you can do both. His conviction that personal deep knowledge is required across any industry sector in today’s highly competitive world aligns with Relocate’s determination to tell the stories leading to change across business from oil and gas to the car industry, from pharmaceuticals to the creative industries.Mr Mattison went on to describe the two the dynamic forces of hierarchies and networks battling it out to define our future. He reflected that we are entering a period of time that will be known as the age of the networks – from the digitalisation of almost everything to networked resources and people. In the networked world anyone can contribute, gatekeepers are removed leading to a dynamic shift of power.The youth of today is revealing the future and it is not surprising that managers today don’t know if they should be excited or afraid. “The leader no longer sits at the top of the chart, she sits at the centre of the network,” he said.In qualifying this, he cited Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends: The rise of the social enterprise report which revealed a profound shift in the mindset of organisations and the role they are expected to play within wider society. ‘Engagement with other stakeholders on topics such as diversity, gender pay equity, income inequality, immigration and climate change can lift financial performance and brand value, while failure to engage can destroy reputation and alienate key audiences’, the report reveals.Mr Mattison went on to describe the increasing need to break down hierarchies and build more team-based organisations.According to him, this requires five shifts:
  • Technology shift
  • Process shift
  • Experience shift
  • Skills shift
  • Inner shift
He believes that the transformation happens in the ‘inner shift’ where deep knowledge lies and he urged the audience to connect with something larger than themselves in order to become a ‘Future-Maker’.

Disrupters and change agents

President and CEO of Worldwide ERC®, Peggy Smith built on the themes of the keynote and teased out the future of global mobility with an expert panel featuring some of global mobility’s very own future-makers.Susan Schneider Benevides, CEO of Plus Relocation Services; Erik Eccles, Co-Founder and CEO, Urbandoor, Brynne Kennedy, CEO and Founder, Topia and Rajiv Parikh, Chief Marketing Officer, Shyft provided some honest insights into starting up a company, rebranding, responding to change and dealing with mistakes along the way.Ms Schneider Benevides described her company’s decision five years ago to do something different at Plus Relocation. Business was stagnant and there were a lot of companies like theirs providing an excellent service. Working with an external consultant, her company looked for a differentiator, mapping the journey from the buyer’s perspective in addition to putting the lens on the employee.This was the turning point: they embraced the feedback and recommendations and the insights provided new opportunities. The journey work is something they will revisit as needs have changed again over five years.She urged the audience to examine how employees are consuming the traditional policy benefits on offer and not to be afraid of disrupting – challenging whether the relocation package needs to be broken.As Shyft’s Rajiv Parikh pointed out, failure is an opportunity to learn and not make the same mistakes. He recommended using prototypes and going through a process of constant improvement, but he emphasised that this needs to be a fast and creative process.Urban Door’s Erik Eccles urged the audience to talk about failures, take out the emotion and let your team see what works. "Judge a team on what works and the fixes, rather than on the failure," he said. "As in my experience people get energised by the solutions."Responding also to the challenges associated with an impatient culture, he acknowledged that although everyone sees overnight successes, in reality building an organisation takes 10 to 12 years. “It is hard work – tell the team that,” he advised. “Invite them to take the journey with you.” He admitted however, “For me it is an addiction,” which is probably true of a lot of entrepreneurs.Brynne Kennedy, CEO and Founder of Topia recounted how she had developed a vison for an end-to-end software suite which was focused on relocation, but that this had evolved and is now focused on software for talent mobility.The shift was prompted by conversations with customers and Fortune 100 companies where they were asked what they would do if they were CEO of her company. The answer was to accelerate the software. Realising their core capability was in software and not the relocation services business, their strategy is to partner with best in breed relocation companies across compensation, immigration and tax etc.

Innovation Lab presentations

Delegates were able to get up to speed with the latest trends and innovations across different aspects of global mobility throughout the Symposium via short presentations in a new central stage setting. The format gave a different dimension and there was also the opportunity to engage with the companies who were presenting. Choosing what to attend across an inviting mix of education sessions and the Innovation Lab presentations was a challenge at time for delegates.There were innovation Lab presentations from: ReloQuest, Learnlight, Benivo, Deloitte Tax LLP, ZM Analytics, ReloTalent, KPMG and Ruoff Home Mortgage.

Design Thinking new on the agenda

New on the horizon for many will be the current interest in Design Thinking as it applies to global mobility.Betsy Welche, CEO Americas, Santa Fe Relocation Services led a discussion with Anneka Besemer, Global Mobility Program Manager, LinkedIn and Alain Verstandig, President, NetExpat. The Design Thinking people-centred approach will resonate with many across global mobility who are keen to build on their knowledge of agile organisations and innovative approaches to engagement.A session on ‘Leveraging Experience Design to Elevate your Mobility’ moderated by Plus Relocation Services Susan Schneider Benevides, CEO Plus Relocation Services with contributions from Carolyn Neblett, Director, Capital One explored how companies are designing the employee experience within mobility.

International markets overview

The closing general session provided a rapid overview of international markets that will inevitably have an impact on corporate and supplier global mobility professionals and companies they support in fast changing times.Peggy Smith deftly interviewed international markets expert, Anja Manuel about the impact of globalisation. Ms Manuel is an award winning author, founding partner at RiceHadleyGates and lecturer at Stanford University. She frequently contributes foreign policy and technology analysis for the international media.From the US to Asia and covering as many relocation hotspots as possible in the time there were inevitably as many questions posed as answered by Anja Manuel’s insights on globalisation. She is certainly someone worth following to help keep up to speed on international affairs including the US perspective. Understanding what is going on in the world can only help those working across global mobility in whatever capacity and honoured the message of the opening keynote for future-makers to develop deep knowledge. 

Worldwide ERC® is hosting its Frankfurt Mobility Summit on 7 February 2019, for more information click here.

For related news and features, visit our Leadership & Management section.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory