Global Mobility: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Global Mobility: Two Sides of the Same Coin

We all know that international relocation can be a challenging and emotive experience. The highs and lows can be overwhelming and while the experience for the majority is generally very positive, there can be days when the going gets tough. It is on those days that the accessibility and quality of relocation support makes all the difference. 

In this weeks podcast Ines Nascimento shares her personal and professional experience as an international HR expert and expat.

When organizational support does not meet expectations the following comments can be heard….

But… they just don’t get it… don’t care…… are not interested…… keep making mistakes…….have left us in limbo.

They being representative of the people who are connected with relocation support either in-house or from any relocation support provider.

Of course, it is not all bad. I also hear stories of fantastic support and great service provision. What differentiates the good from the bad? I believe it has a lot to do with the way in the service provisions are delivered.

Timely provision that relates to the needs of the assignee and family obviously helps. Empathy and compassion provides the icing on the cake. But here’s the catch. Empathy and compassion comes from a place of interest and understanding – an understanding of the employee experience.

This can be a problem when support is provided by people who have not lived abroad themselves or are simply not interested or trained sufficiently to understand the practical and emotional challenges of relocation.

In this weeks, Thriving Abroad Podcast I talk to Ines Nascimento, a global HR mobility professional who truly understands both sides of the relocation coin because both have featured as part of her life.

As an HR specialist, Ines worked in global mobility roles in Portugal. Then she, together with her husband decided they wanted to experience life outside of Portugal. They set off with very clear intentions. To experience life in two widely contrasting cultures.

They moved first to the US, secondly China. Their mission: to get into the real soul of each country. No expat bubble for them. They spent four years in Tennessee USA, and then moved to a Tier 2 city in China.

Ines shares her experience on the podcast saying:

‘It’s a transformative experience in my opinion. A unique way of challenging yourself. Getting to know yourself better. Knowing you can thrive in almost any environment if you put your focus and your energy well into that. It changes you professionally and personally too.

But beyond this, the goal for Ines was to use this opportunity to keep up with her career and add competencies and skills to her CV.

As a result, this expat experience gave her a unique perspective and insight into the experience of international assignees.

Ines conclusion: often the issues of discussion in global mobility seem disconnected to the real issues and lived challenges of the assignee and their family. Ines believes there is work to be done on aligning these two perspectives.. which was music to my ears as co/author of the book THRIVING ABROAD: The definitive guide to professional and personal relocation success.

Ines highlights the three core challenges she believes HR/GM face. As she says, nothing new or revolutionary…. but areas that are crucially important in setting employees up for success during and after their assignment:

  • Identifying the right person to send abroad
  • Adjustment of the accompanying family
  • Repatriation planning

We talk about her perspective on these three challenges and Ines’ advice for both the organization and employee. Ines was keen to emphasise that getting this right depends on both the organization and employee accepting ‘it is a mutual responsibility.’

To learn more about Ines you can visit her website HERE.

To sign up to receive our regular Modern Mobility newsletter featuring the latest Thriving Abroad podcast and global mobility news go HERE.

Buy our book THRIVING ABROAD: The definitive guide to professional and personal relocation success

‘I love this book……. I cannot see how anyone can argue that it is anything other than impeccably useful. It is almost surprising this type of book has never been written before…..this ought to be an industry set text.

 Review in TheHRDirector by Michelle Parry Slater.



What should expat organisational support include and does it really matter?

What should expat organisational support include and does it really matter?

When managing home based employees the extent of the employee, employer relationship is usually clear. The organisation may run a few family days, invite partners to celebratory meals from time to time, but generally work and family life have clear(ish) boundaries.

Put an international relocation into the picture and suddenly the delineation between work and family begin to break down. The employees work and role takes the lead and in a way that impacts on every family members lives. The partner often takes on a supportive role, facilitating many aspects of the relocation. That is not to say their career necessarily dies, but for the majority it is put on hold. In this weeks podcast, Marta Guarneri shares her research into the impact of family dynamics on the expatriation cycle, and how organisations can better support the relocation process.

The future of the whole family, their expectations and lives become inextricably linked to the assigning organisation. The psychological contract; the unwritten set of expectations of the employment relationship, encompasses not only the now more complex expectations of the employee, but also those of the partner and family. Denise Rousseau talks about the psychological contract including informal arrangements, mutual beliefs, common ground and perceptions between two parties. It is something that is not fixed, but evolves constantly based on communication.

So, imagine the impact these two different perspectives on HR involvement and connection with partners might have on the psychological contract and the level of engagement and commitment to the assignment experience.

  • One HR manager was clear that they needed to know people so they could offer the best support. They wanted to know what they were dealing with, to offer support that was valued, develop family loyalty.
  • Another HR manager was loathed to create an open channel of communication with anyone other than the assignee. They feared that should they encourage a connection with the partner, the partner would exploit it and become a nuisance.

Which opinion was right?

Well, in my opinion the first, although I am pretty sure the second HR Manager would do a good job at justifying the need to keep the relationship at a distance. After all, the written contract is with the employee, lines should not be crossed and resources are not limitless.

And yet, over the years I have heard partners talk so many times about the role they play, the support they provide, and sadly in many cases the absence of any recognition. Often it is the small gestures that make the difference.

Marta’s research: The Impact of Family Dynamics on the Expatriation Cycle, aimed to understand the common factors that foster the success or failure of international assignments and to isolate some of the best HR practices that could impact performance, retention and organisational commitment. 

Her results were fascinating. Here are some soundbites to spark you interest:

  • It is the ineffectiveness of organisational support that is the issue.
  • The key is to know what makes an efficient package, to maximise it, not waste it.
  • Understanding the needs of the assignee and family is key.
  • Relocation support in situ so often is inadequate and represents wasted resources.
  • Flexibility is key when meeting the needs of a new generation who expect flexibility.

Want to listen to more PODCASTS? Head over to the Thriving Abroad Podcast channel – HERE.

Please feel free to share amongst your networks. My goal is to grow this podcast audience 10 fold by the end of 2017.

Natasha Vorompiova – Using Systems to Streamline her Life and Create a Business

Natasha Vorompiova – Using Systems to Streamline her Life and Create a Business

Natasha Vorompiova is the woman to go to if you want to make your business life easier. Her company, Systems Rock, helps small businesses to systemise to improve their efficiency and effectiveness.

Natasha is a Ukranian expat living in Belgium. She set up a consulting business after moving to Belgium, where she struggled to find a job and where it is tough to secure positions unless you speak both French and Flemish. Initially challenged by juggling all the tasks on her plate, she realised she could bring the systems knowledge from her former career to her new business and life. In our interview with Natasha she shares her inspiring story of building a business as an expat. She also gives us a few of her favourite tips and tools for using systems to make your personal admin easier. 

We are big fans of Natasha and Systems Rock and have applied a number of her suggestions in our own business. You can listen to our interview on the player above.  If you enjoy the interview, don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes and leave us a great review.

If you want to learn more about systemising your business, join Natasha for a free 5-part training to ensure that what you spend your time on today brings you closer to your big, audacious goal several months from now.  Once you register, you will also receive a free mini-guide “10 Things That Make Your Business Unique” Register Here

Rachel Yates – Walking the Walk to Expat Entrepreneurship

Rachel Yates – Walking the Walk to Expat Entrepreneurship

We’ve known Rachel Yates, founder of The Expat Lifeline for a long time, before Thriving Abroad was created in fact. She’s on a mission to make moving internationally easier and to help expat partners to keep their agenda and financial security in the conversation. What makes Rachel really stand out though is the humour she brings to what she does, which helps to make difficult topics more manageable. In our interview, she shares her inspiring entrepreneurship journey including these highlights:

  • How she’s applied the skills she learned becoming a pilot to preparing for an international move.
  • The challenges for expat partners of keeping themselves in the conversation and renegotiating the balance in the family when changes are made.
  • How her realisation that she wasn’t walking the walk led to her becoming an expat entrepreneur
  • Her epiphany on how cognitive dissonance applies in expat life
  • Why expat partners should always have a backup plan
  • What expat relationships and furniture have in common

We certainly had a wide ranging conversation and you can listen to all of it on the player above. If you’d like to learn more about Rachel and her business you can find her at The Expat Lifeline. You can also learn more about how The Global Girls Guide to Creating a Backup Plan can help you to look after your own financial needs and you can purchase the Expat Family File which is an indispensable tool for organising the exponential amount of admin that seems to come hand in hand with expat life.  You can also find Rachel on Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoy the interview, don’t forget to subscribe and leave a great review on iTunes. If you’d like to continue the conversation about making expat life work for you, ask to join our closed Facebook group.

Inspiring Expat Interviews – Kristin Louise Duncombe

Inspiring Expat Interviews – Kristin Louise Duncombe

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An interview with Kristin Duncombe about her expatriate life and also her book; Trailing – A Memoir.
Kristin shares stories of her life as a “chronic american expat” as the child of a career foreign service officer and wife of a Doctor working in the field of humanitarian aid

Inspiring Expat Interviews – Alison Cornford-Matheson

Inspiring Expat Interviews – Alison Cornford-Matheson

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Alison Cornford-Matheson is an expat partner who accompanied her husband Andrew to Belgium. The career she created as a writer and photographer has changed their lives and they are about to start their new adventure travelling around Europe in an RV. As well as continuing to share Alison’s beautiful photos, they’ll be writing about their adventures and they food they enjoy as they go.