GXP Summit: Optimising global talent pools

Relocate Global’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie, moderated a wide-ranging panel discussion on effective talent management, skills sourcing and delivery at the Global Expansion Summit in London this week.

GXP Summit: Talent challenges
The event, held at the Intercontinental Hotel, O2 London, a stone’s throw over the River Thames from Canary Wharf’s global financial hub, attracted hundreds of visitors looking to hear from experienced professionals about every aspect of how to expand businesses overseas.The five panellists on Tuesday’s global mobility session lived up to these expectations, offering insight into skills and talent considerations in this context, including the future of work.Representing the fast-evolving digital sector, Arden Ng, CEO of Blueback Global, a Cupertino, Silicon Valley-headquartered supplier of global expansion services (including taxation, legal and HR), was joined by Tracy Figliola, director of global mobility and global HR shared services at data connectivity company, Equinix. The in-house global mobility view was also shared by Mark Derkson, associate director of Arup and head of international mobility at the firm of designers, planners, engineers, consultants and technical specialists.Arnand Chopra-McGowan, EMEA head of enterprise and new markets at international coding, design and marketing training company, General Assembly, offered his perspective on international talent development, skills training and deployment. While Julia Onslow-Cole, partner at global professional services firm, PwC, head of global immigration and its legal markets leader, was on hand to put all the challenges and opportunities in the geopolitical context.

Responding to challenging times

Starting off the discussion, Julia Onslow-Cole described the situation companies, their global mobility teams and employees are facing today. Calling the current state of immigration reforms and the pressing need in businesses to do more, and more quickly, the “perfect storm” for mobility.“We are seeing political pressure on governments around the world who are tightening immigration rules,” said Ms Onslow-Cole. “Often this is in non-statutory ways, like tightening existing rules to make it harder to cross borders. We also have businesses who increasingly want to send people abroad and young people who expect to travel as part of their job.”Underlining the risks involved for businesses and individuals, she warned of the pitfalls for people on the move for company business of not having the right visa, and the potential legal, personal and reputational damage this can have.Arden Ng also spoke on this difficult balance between bringing people with the skills companies need to new territories and managing risks, including cost and compliance. The challenge, said Mr Ng, is that very often companies relocating “don’t know what they don’t know”. Both points underlined that importance of getting the right advice.

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Mobility working across the company and disciplines

Tracy Figliola reflected this multi-disciplinary approach to international expansion and global talent mobility in responses to compliance, cost and talent challenges in the IT sector.“Building a tech talent pool is our number one priority and a key focus,” she said. “It is really important for us to recognise key roles and where the risks are and sources available to us. We have to be very flexible and very adaptable. We have to be assertive in our creativity.”Equinix has introduced flexible, tiered mobility policies to support the various types of move in line with their purpose.Arnand Chopra-McGowan also called for a “radical rethink” in companies around lifelong learning and its importance for  staying ahead of the competition, and potentially as an alternative to relocation and large-scale talent mobility.

Stewarding change

A key conclusion from the discussion is for proactive communication in the business around talent mobility, risk and opportunities. The business case is resonating more loudly for talent mobility considerations from a cost, compliance and talent perspective to be included earlier in business development plans and strategic conversations.For both Tracy Figliola and Mark Derkson, this involves a more strategic, broad-based and proactive approach.“I hope to see talent and mobility are one force working together with business strategy and more upfront at the table when talking about strategy,” said Mr Derkson. Data analytics is opening new vistas and insights to help resolve the current challenges and deliver more effective mobility.Julia Onslow-Cole agreed, calling on global mobility to be the ones “to get up to the table and steward this – it is the perfect opportunity for people here to really show their worth.”

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