What is a Global Mobility Specialist?

Natascha ClarkI have 16 years experience in the relocation industry, working across four continents, and I have loved every second of it. I started out as a Local Area Consultant, moved on to become an Adviser for the individual employee/family, then on to Operations and now Business Development and Marketing for HCR Ltd. Countless training courses are available, my most recent accomplishment is the certification for “˜Global Mobility Specialist’ (GMS).

What I actually do

My job is to acquire new clients who relocate their employees domestically or across the world. I oversee my team who makes all of the necessary arrangements which will enable an individual and/or a family to make a smooth transition from one country to another. It starts with the basics, i.e. immigration requirements. Unless a visa is in place it is not possible, in most cases, to work across nations. If children are relocating, the issue of school needs to be raised. Where will the assignees live? Who is paying the bills, and who will sell their home property? It is not easy to uproot ones life, move across the world, leave behind loved ones and friends and start all over in a foreign country, where even basics like driving on the other side of the road can have serious consequences.

Why is there a need?

“˜The World Is Flat’ – a book by Thomas L. Friedman – explores the fact that the world is moving closer and many businesses function across the globe, opening subsidiary offices in other continents. The need to transfer talent across their operations is imperative.

A whole new industry emerged about 25 years ago – The Relocation Industry. This has now grown to a multi billion pound business. Corporate companies see the need to outsource relocation requirements to specialised companies in order to be cost and time efficient. Relocation companies plan every relocation down to the smallest detail, such as what to do with a pet, how to overcome cross cultural differences and how an assignment in i.e. Brazil will effect the pension fund. It is no longer acceptable to expect an employee to pack up their suitcases, jump on a plane and arrive in a completely new culture like China, and to simply get on with their new jobs and their task at hand.

Companies have realised that although this can be achieved, many challenges need to be overcome, and the individual will need all kinds of practical help and support if the transition is to be successful.

Qualifications and experience needed

To work in the relocation industry one must be people orientated, able to emphasise and sympathise with the stress most assignees and their family’s experience. Ideally a person considering joining this industry, should have relocated themselves, if not globally at least domestically. Expect to deal with exhausted and screaming assignees, tearful spouses, cultural differences, and communication barriers – however when all goes well the joy and thankfulness is very rewarding. Speaking different languages is advantageous but not compulsory. More important is the ability to understand and adjust to personal behaviours and cultural differences.

The potential for career development within this industry is immense. From a local area consultant to an adviser looking after and guiding the assignees, planning the operations, supply chain management, marketing, sales and business development, finance and IT – the list is endless. Global relocation is challenging but rewarding work where every single day brings different experiences and insight into other lives.

Natascha Clark

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