Festival attendees endorse ‘think global’ innovation message

The sun shone and the Kent countryside charmed as global mobility professionals, business leaders and international educators gathered for a day of workshops and networking at the Innovation Festival for Global Working.

NASA astronaut Tony Antonelli speaking at Relocate Global Think Global People Innovation Festival for Global Working

Watch the video highlights from the Innovation Festival for Global Working

Delegates praised the content and organisation of the day after hearing inspirational stories from keynote speaker NASA astronaut Tony Antonelli, exchanging ideas in the lively workshop hubs and networking with others from across the global mobility sector, international education and business – all amid the stunning countryside in a beautiful treehouse marquee setting.
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‘We decide our limits’

Antonelli shared stories of his inspirational journey to become a NASA astronaut, life in space and the quest to reach Mars. His takeaways? Work harder than anyone else, never believe you can’t do something and above all, be kind.“When you look down from space earth is a big blue marble floating against blackness. From that distance you can’t see our differences, the things we argue about. I want us all to be more neighbourly and think globally as citizens of this beautiful planet.”He is also passionate about the power of education and encouraging children to embrace STEM subjects: “Children get turned off studying science and maths before they have even given it a shot because somebody tells them they can’t do it. I will never tell anyone what their limits are, we all get to decide what the limits are and then we get to push them. Finding your passion is being open to new stuff and you don’t have to be good at it in the beginning.”

Connecting expertise to achieve goals

The afternoon keynote panel examined global trends in the workplace and included Demetra Marcantonio, director of KPMG Global Mobility Services; Ann Ellis, CEO and founder of global business expansion at Mauve Group and Valérie Besanceney, executive director of Safe Passage Across Networks (SPAN).Subjects under discussion included new ways of working remotely, the flexibility now required to send employees on overseas assignments and the importance of nurturing children in education as they continue to suffer from the effects of isolation during the pandemic.“Thanks to the pandemic, everyone is aware of the impacts of sudden change and the skills needed to transition well,” says Valérie Besanceney. “Children are relearning these skills, and also those like communication skills and cross-cultural competency.”KPMG’s Marcantonio identified the growth in remote working and expectations of flexibility as key challenges. “There has been a shift in the mood of the workforce and CEOs need to look at the employee value proposition and how they need to evolve,” she says.Generation Z now make up 25 per cent of the workforce and Marcantonio says this group wants to work for an organisation that makes visible, tangible steps towards ESG goals. “These are individuals with critical skills. We can’t ignore such a large portion of the workforce, or they will walk away.”Mauve’s Ellis pointed to communication as one of the most important skills going forward, especially for remote workers “We have teams around the world working in different time zones and we need to make sure they are supported,” she says.

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Watch the Festival video highlights

International experience and the employer value proposition

The afternoon keynote was followed by two lively workshops: the Future of Global Mobility and Education and Leadership: The Future of Work. Both sessions were interactive and informative and identified the challenges of cross-border working, the complexity of global regulatory issues and the importance of a flexible approach.“The biggest shift is the huge focus on cross-border working and people wanting to do their job from wherever they are in the world,” says Georgina Hawkes, head of global mobility, performance and reward at HSBC Group Management Services. “That is incredibly complex to arrange: we went from being experts in relocation to experts in everything from global data protection to tax and immigration overnight.”The profile of employees taking on an international assignment is also changing, according to Agnieszka Leja, senior manager at KPMG Global Mobility Services. “Twenty-five years ago it would be a senior executive in his 40s with a family. Now we have a theatre of people who can relocate, and we are looking at younger employees, people going for shorter periods and those not needing the full relocation package. We must be flexible,” she says.

Celebrating excellence in people focus and global leadership

The day finished with the Awards Ceremony where winners included Mauve Group for excellence in global mobility, global policy design or implementation, Icon Relocation for destination service provider and the International school of Kula Lumpur for excellence in education.For many delegates, the chance to network and exchange ideas was the true highlight of the day: “I have been to this event four times and I always leave feeling energised,” says John Rason, group head of consulting at Santa Fe. “Global mobility is evolving, and it is about us all figuring out the journey together.”

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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