Innovation Festival for Global Working keynote sets agenda

Bringing together every aspect of the global mobility supply chain with talent and business leaders, the Innovation Festival for Global Working provided the perfect place to network and share insights on where next for global mobility and cross-border working.

Afternoon keynote panel
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This article is taken from the latest issue of Think Global People magazine.Click on the cover to access the digital edition.

Watch the video highlights from the Innovation Festival for Global Working

Following the morning’s sessions with NASA astronaut Tony Antonelli – which spotlighted the transferable learnings from space-tech innovation and technological leadership – the afternoon’s Festival Keynote session explored what doing “the hard things now for impact in the future” means for international management, talent leadership and global mobility. Ann Ellis, CEO and co-founder of Mauve Group, Demetra Marcantonio of KPMG Global Mobility Services and Valérie Besanceney of Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN) joined forces in a fast-paced, yet still deeply informative, session hosted by Jayne Constantinis.

Find out more from the Innovation Festival for Global Working

Purpose-driven conversations

The huge range of topics covered in this purposeful discussion on the future workplace included: 
  • how to manage healthy remote working
  • the role of technology and emergent AI capabilities
  • developing the skills as lifelong learners to embrace change
  • the potential to enlarge the scope of DEI initiatives to encompass mid-career changes and overcome talent shortages in new ways.
The cornerstone of the panel’s conversation was the importance of mission: a concept Tony Antonelli unpacked earlier in the day. “A mission is more than just something on the website,” recapped Jayne Constantinis. “If that is what employers are offering new recruits, then it has to be something an organisation is living and breathing. They’ve got to deliver.”The panel expanded on how they are planning and actioning their unique missions and innovating to overcome today’s big challenges. This included new approaches to talent management that more equitably meet the needs of the multigenerational workforce. These are based on the recognition for more purpose-driven work, particularly in the environmental and social governance (ESG) context. The session also unpacked what this all means for international management and leadership.

Leading the multigenerational workforce

KPMG’s latest report, Great Expectations: How expectations across pay, mobility, borders, and life are changing, sets out the practices gaining traction in multiple jurisdictions around the world. Demetra Marcantonio elaborated on these and why they are changing, including significant demographic change and overcoming talent shortages.“Generation Z makes up around 25% of the workforce. These are individuals with skills and needs you can’t ignore. They will walk away from the organisation if the organisation does not align with their personal values.”Asked how Mauve Group manages this tension between business and employee needs, Ann Ellis said it’s important to have employees from all different age groups. “That’s very important to me as a CEO so everyone can learn from each other and have new ideas. That’s good for the whole organisation to have that blend.“I also think for skills shortages, we need organisations to look at how they can utilise the skills of people who have been in the same roles for quite a long time to see if they would like to move to a different role in the organisation. That can obviously help with skills shortages. But in our business too, it’s so important for people to understand what we do in different areas.”“It’s about being innovative around how you recruit and retain critical skills,” Demetra Marcantonio agreed. “There is more of a focus on internal talent mobility. Just looking more critically at your own internal workforce and matching supply and demand for skills across that workforce.“One thing is the concept of Quiet Hiring. We’ve all heard of Quiet Quitting, where employees do the minimum. But this is developing these skills through internal hiring and without bringing new people into the organisation. It’s moving people in the organisations to different work opportunities and experiences. A lot of individuals no longer expect a linear career path. It’s also upskilling them to be successful.”

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Watch the Festival video highlights

Developing skills as a lifelong learner

As Ann Ellis mentioned, intergenerational learning is evidently a bonus. Bringing the transitions and education piece into the evolving workplace conversation, it’s clear that schools and employers can also work together even more closely to ensure future skills needs are met, starting now.Leadership styles and communication and managing different expectations fairly can be areas of challenge. For the future workforce, there are real concerns about the impact of lockdown on young people and children’s social and emotional development.“One of the biggest takeaways for me is around what Tony Antonelli was saying earlier about learning to be a good person after seeing what children have had to respond to in the last few years and having to do a lot of work online,” says Valérie Besanceney.“I think in some ways, a lot of children are re-learning a lot of social skills again. These skills are so vital for the future. And not just personal skills, but also taking a global perspective and a mobile lifestyle. They need communication skills and cultural competence to understand the nuances of living in different cultures. Looking at planet Earth from above, there is so much potential for looking at life through different lenses and experiences of living and working in other countries.”Claudine Hakim of ISL agreed. “We are also seeing it in schools with conflict resolution and how students can engage with each other in a way that will lead to amicable outcomes. They’ve not had the chance to practice that in a face-to-face way. A lot of the time when you are onscreen it’s easier to get involved in conflict. Schools are working hard on those skills, which are going to be life skills for the future.”“It’s not just the younger generation that has been affected by this,” added Demetra Marcantonio. “Individuals of all ages have been impacted and I think there does need to be a little bit of work on communication skills.”Ann Ellis concurred, saying that communication, especially with remote work, is “so important”, especially when working with remote teams in other time zones and geographies. “We don’t have the idea of 9-5 anymore in our company because we have to go with time zones,” says Ann. “That’s a big skill.” Mauve Group is supporting managers to develop these skills with in-person whole-company management training that is bringing people who have worked remotely together for the first time.

Adapting to new technology and developing healthy change mindsets

Panellists also highlighted key skills and jobs of the future as centred on digital and data analysis, including data scientists. “These and the skills related to them are going to be really important now and going forward,” said Ann Ellis.On artificial intelligence (AI), Demetra Marcantonio is interested in its “incredible possibility,” with the important caveat that “it’s managed properly and that humans remain in control. It would be good to see what it can do. AI is about how humans and technology are better together and the best way to do that. We have to embrace it. AI and digital transformation are critical to the success of any organisation. Business leaders know this.”Adopting a change mindset and cultures that enable every transition – be they international relocations, role change, or responding to external events or harnessing new technology – is high on the panellists’ agenda.“The years have taught me that nothing is ever the same,” says Demetra Marcantonio. “Everything is changing and it’s just about having that mindset about being open to change. The sooner we can embrace that change mindset, the better. Who knows what the next covid will be? Hopefully not, but there will be something for sure.”Valérie Besanceney agreed wholeheartedly, pointing out the value of collaboration across sectors to drive innovation and share common experiences and challenges. “The difference between change and transition is that change happens to you suddenly,” she explained. “Transition is really about that whole journey and about choosing how you manage that change. What are you going to do to learn and grow from it? At the same time, what skills do you need for any future change in your life?”This point resonated particularly with guests, the majority of whom in a quick show of hands felt unequipped to deal with changes coming our way. This underlines the importance of conversations like this, those in the Leadership Hub workshops that followed and year-round at the Think Global People community events.For Ann Ellis, responding to change and innovating has been how the company has grown significantly over the past three decades. “I embrace any sort of change. I’m that person always looking forward. You’ve got to stand on the edge of that precipice and not fall off, but be bold and ready to change and adapt to what’s going on.”

Watch the video highlights from the Innovation Festival for Global Working

Read more from the Innovation Festival for Global Working in the upcoming Summer issue of Think Global People magazine and about this year's winners of Relocate and Think Global People Awards in the special supplement. Reserve your copy here.

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