Relocate Awards: turning inspiration into action

The Relocate Awards 2017 gala dinner launched a range of initiatives to inspire those working across relocation and global mobility to innovate and be creative. Find out how you can get involved.

Relocate Awards: turning inspiration into action
The Relocate Awards tenth-anniversary gala dinner, held at the Science Museum, London, on Thursday 11 May, was an opportunity for HR and relocation professionals across the mobility spectrum to exchange ideas and consider how their sector could power forward to an exciting future by harnessing innovation and creativity.“As it’s our tenth anniversary, rather than looking back, we thought it would be great to look forward,” explained Relocate Global’s managing editor, Fiona Murchie.“So what better venue than the Science Museum? Against the backdrop of the wonderful Space Gallery, we have a range of people who are going to talk about innovation in their industry – our Innovation Ambassadors.”

What is innovation?

Innovation Ambassador
Mark Gilman, professor of SME Growth and Development at Birmingham City Business School, described how his work bridging the academic and business world was helping to oil the wheels of enterprise.“It’s good to stimulate debate about the different interpretations of innovation,” Professor Gilman explained. “Obviously, people here are all from different HR and relocation services backgrounds, but in all their companies and careers, they’ll be coming across different ways to innovate.”Professor Gilman’s own focus is supporting the drive and energy from SMEs to step up and grow. “One of the challenges for SMEs is their leaders tell me they are often ‘busy fools’ rather than the strategic leaders they want to be.“Innovation in small companies comes from within. We help by helping SMEs to grow their businesses by being better strategic leaders and unleashing their dynamic capabilities.”Supporting a diagnostic tool developed by Professor Gilman and his team, the university is involved in a Makers’ Monday programme. This is developing links between STEM and the creative sector in Birmingham with an open forum. Academics from across the arts, media and creative spectrum are joining forces to share challenges and solutions.“Our aim is to create a STEM, STEAM-house [science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics] to drive growth,” says Professor Gilman, who is also director of the Centre for Enterprise, Innovation and Growth and co-founder and director of BIG Associates, a university spin-off.

Future skills

Launched at the gala dinner, Relocate’s innovation initiative encourages people in the sector and beyond to: 
  • Innovate and be creative in both their personal and work lives
  • Imagine the workforce of the future and how different industry sectors will evolve to meet future challenges and developments
  • Help connect employers with schools and the talent of the future
  • Raise awareness of the importance of global mobility in supporting business growth and recruiting and retaining talent
Representing the engineering sector and a large employer of highly skilled and internationally mobile expertise, Innovation Ambassador Michelle McDowell, MBE (pictured in main image above), principal and chair of Civil and Structural Engineering, BDP, a major international practice of architects, designers, engineers and urbanists, like Professor Gilman, focused on the future in her conversations with awards dinner guests.In particular, the focus was on encouraging and supporting young women into engineering. This ties in with the Relocate initiative’s aim of supporting the next generation of leaders to aim high and employers to imagine the workforce of tomorrow.“I’m very passionate about encouraging women into engineering and staying there as their career develops,” said Ms McDowell. “It’s very important we have a much better balance between men and women in engineering. Women have a lot to bring to the profession.“I think, in particular for girls, we need to show them that maths and physics are wonderful subjects to study and can lead to wonderful careers. We need to get the message out about engineering: what it really means, how flexible a career it is, and how you can be based in a design office or on a construction site.“It’s very, very creative. You can use your imagination, and you meet lots of different people, from architects through to different clients, contractors and sub-contractors on site. So you are exposed to lots of different, and very interesting, people.”

Educating the next generation

Adding a further perspective to encouraging more diversity in the STEM arena, Charlotte Avery, Girls’ School Association (GSA) president 2017, said, “I am delighted to be here as a Relocate Innovation Ambassador to represent girls’ schools. We are very proud that, in the 150 schools that are part of GSA, physics and science are taken very seriously indeed.“We have outstanding teaching and excellent role models, and therefore many of our students go on to read physics and engineering at university. However, we are aware that this is bucking the national trend and this is not the norm for girls.“We want to try to do everything we can with the maintained sector to support excellent teaching and innovate role models, so other young girls can see that there is a really exciting future in technology, in science, in engineering, and in physics.“I’ll be talking about the importance of young women going forward through science in school and in to very innovative pathways for education and then into the world of work.”

Space: the next frontier of mobility?

Embodying the themes Innovation Ambassadors discussed with the 250 guests at the gala dinner were the team from the National Space Academy, in Leicester, and their inspiring projects.Through interactive display, they offered guests insights into how schools, colleges and businesses were collaborating in the UK and overseas to nurture the next generation of engineers and innovators.For Maggie Philbin, broadcaster, CEO of TeenTech CIC, keynote speaker, and host for the evening, supporting the next generation of leaders is an absolutely critical issue.“One of the things I’m going to talk about tonight will touch everyone pretty much in the audience,” said Maggie Philbin, as she prepared to generate discussions around innovation with guests and Innovation Ambassadors ahead of the awards ceremony, “and that’s recruiting really good staff.“Increasingly, the kinds of thing that companies need are high-level digital skills at least. Then, for some people, they want people with some kind of science or technology background. So, about ten years ago, we set up TeenTech.“We felt there was a real divide between young people who were enthusiastic about technology, and who were really creative, and employers who wanted people just like them, and perhaps an education system that was getting in the way.“Just allowing young people to see the opportunities that are there is an important step in connecting them with the people from the industry so relationships can develop.”

Building relationships through innovation

Representing the relocation field, innovation ambassador Jesse van Sas, secretary general of Relocate Awards sponsor FIDI Global Alliance, said, “It’s fantastic to be here as an Innovation Ambassador and partner with Relocate Global for the awards to celebrate the good work that our members do.”Commenting on the need to maintain its current focus on innovation, and to continue to respond to the challenges and opportunities the sector faced, Mr van Sas continued, “Our members are constantly innovating and moving into new areas. We have to keep up and know what our members want. We are very proud of our members, and they reach a very high bar that we, as an industry body, set.”John Prooij, project manager for quality and risk at FIDI Global Alliance, added, “We also believe that as soon as you start to get comfortable, it’s time to change and innovate.We are dealing with some industry hot topics at the moment, such as the EU-GDPR (European General Data Protection Regulation), anti-bribery and anti-corruption management, and supply-chain management, all of which are incorporated into our rigorous FAIM standard, certified by EY.As a hot topic for HR and relocation professionals supporting employees and their families on the move, education is a key area of focus across the Relocate media. For the latest education news, articles and practical advice, see our Education & Schools section. Support your relocating families with our Guide to International Education & Schools and our Guide to Education & Schools in the UK

Envisioning the future

Already, conversations about how employers and the mobility sector can put these ideas into action are blossoming beyond the Relocate Awards tenth-anniversary event. This shows there is a real appetite to innovate and raise the standard further still in mobility and its role supporting businesses to achieve goals sustainably.Jose Segade, co-founder of the RES Forum, commented, “I was delighted to attend what was an excellent event. The promotion of innovation as a concept in global mobility is something that resonates strongly with a number of initiatives that the RES Forum carries out.”Innovation Ambassador Professor Michael Dickmann, director of the Cranfield University MSc in Management, added, “The Gala Awards Dinner provided a valuable opportunity to catch up with old friends and acquaintances, and to make new connections, and exchange global mobility ideas across industry sectors – often informed by insights from RES Forum studies, Relocate magazine’s articles, and Cranfield research – and to discuss emerging trends. Overall, a really special evening.”All these conversations – those at the Science Museum and those taking place now – demonstrate talent mobility’s fundamental role in talent development and management, and how it is helping to bridge skills gaps for British and global companies, now and in the future.