This month marks a slight change to the remit of the Thriving Abroad Podcast. I have decided to broaden the scope of the interviews to one that encompasses the subject of global mobility from both the perspective of the organisation AND the assignee, partner and family.

This week’s interview is with Jana Gál. Our conversation investigates these different perspectives on global mobility, I introduce our conversation later in this blog post.

Working in the field of global mobility it can at times feel there are two worlds co-existing, sometimes a little uncomfortably. On one side, there is the world of the global mobility practitioners, who make the relocations happen from a technical and functional perspective. They create and implement policy and support the whole relocation process practically. Essential support, without which international mobility could not happen. This support can be variable in its provision. Some organisations have highly sophisticated programmes, others not so much.

On the other side, is the lived experience of the international assignee and family. The practical and logistical aspects of the relocation experience are important to them, but there is also an emotional/psychological experience that relates to the transition and adjustment process. When assignees feel their needs are not being fully met, especially when practical aspects go wrong there can be a perception that support is not appropriate or sufficient. This can impact negatively on the adjustment process.

Over years of experience and observation I have concluded that where there is a breakdown in perception of support it often stems from mis-communication between the global mobility teams and the assignee and family. The perception of the experience can be so different from each side that mis-understanding can easily arise.

When I think back to our first international move I realise there was a lot that we did not understand, appreciate or even contemplate as a potential issue or challenge as we prepared to move. In some ways we muddled through, but in others we paid the price, it was not an easy transition. Assignees don’t always understand the world of the global mobility in terms of the complexity of compliance, legal and tax related issues. Indeed, how could they if they have never relocated abroad before?

As a result, global mobility teams can feel frustrated by what they see as the endless demands of the assignee and family and do not always appreciate the lived experience and challenges of the assignee. As expats, we know it is often the little things that break us in the end OR make the difference in terms of support. That unexpected phone call to check in with us, the quick card that says welcome, please get in touch if we can help.

Our forthcoming book: Thriving Abroad: The Definitive Guide to Professional and Personal Relocation Success, aims to bridge these two worlds. Written for the assignee and partner, the book guides them through the relocation process, emphasising the value of preparation and a proactive approach to their move abroad. The chapter on global mobility provides an overview of what an employee can expect from their global mobility teams, with suggestions about how to work together effectively. We hope that the process outlined in the book will provide the basis for conversation between both sides of the relocation equation, one that starts from a point of common understanding about the challenges and opportunities of international relocation.

This week I talk to Jana Gál about her expat experiences, which comes from multiple perspectives of overseas living. Jana worked in HR management as a global mobility advisor, supporting international assignees, was an international assignee herself, and most recently relocated to Brussels as an expat partner supporting her husband’s career move. These different perspectives made for a fascinating conversation, we talked about:

  • The challenges Jana faced when working as a HR professional responsible for international assignees.
  • The ways in which, given her different perspectives, she believes assignees and their families can be better supported. I wonder whether you agree?
  • How living abroad as an expat partner has led to a personal redefinition of the word ‘proactive’. Can you relate?

I hope you enjoy the podcast. You can listen to more if you wish on our iTunes channel HERE if you are subscribed. If you are already listening via iTunes please leave a review. It is my intention to build this podcast into a valued resource for expats and I would love your support in raising its profile. Thank you