Tag Archives: expats

By now you have noticed a change happening. You realize it’s not about you any longer. It’s about HR as a whole. What has been preached to us over the last 20 years is entirely wrong. We cannot be strategic business partners unless we re in a strategic function.

Where are these strategic functions?

They have to do with the talent life cycle, with recruiting, with moving talents into the right places at the right time and with developing our current and future leaders so that they are able to deal with the complexity of dealing with today’s world.

We are in the centre of this change but only a few of us have seen it coming.

So what now you might be asking yourself while slurping on your Sunday cappuccino. Should I leave Global Mobility or take on the challenge?

Take on the challenge.

Because you are not alone.

Because we know what will get you there.

Because we can help you.

Change in the assignee population

Many assignees have been burnt by the experiences of expat around the world. They heard horror stories of lack of social security, lower standards of living, marital breakdowns, children being traumatized and not able to study…and worst of all: No one promoted them when they repatriated. The stories are online. Ten years ago there was hardly any communication outside of the traditional “expat clubs”.

Now, experiences are shared. Companies have lost the trust of their employees. Employees of all ages and colors (especially the younger generations) are seeking transparency for their international careers, benefits and working hours.

More Dual Career Couples

Dual Career couples and their issues did not really raise any eyebrows twenty years ago. “Expat wife” was a career aspiration. Now women take the lead and are becoming a major assignee population. Trailing husbands form support groups. Did you read our latest post on dual career issues in international assignments?

And you as the GM Professional?

You still work with tools that are basically excel sheets. You still need to fill hundreds of forms, you still need to seek approval for every minor exception to the policy and you still stay up all night when an expat is in a dangerous country.

What should change for you?

We think your profile (and with that your salary) needs to be raised. We think you need to be a trendsetter, we think you need to be more up to speed on social media, have better tools and you need to be a self-guided learner.

In short: We think you need to be globally competent.

Why don’t you stop filling that visa form right now and start to think about the five most important projects you have to have accomplished until the end of the year so that you can start the year 2015 with more energy?


PS: If you missed the context of this post read this one too.

Dear colleague,

Since 1999 I have worked in the Global Mobility / international HR area and there is not one day where I do not learn anything new!

In the year 2000 I sat in the last row of a very expensive Global Mobility seminar in Berlin. I was about three months into a role that was at least one shoe size to big for my experience but I must have made a big impression in the interview (and my future boss was probably desperate) so I landed my dream job which was to be the “HR International Advisor for Asia Pacific responsible for around 80 assignees and representatives of a large global bank. The seminar was a waste of money on me. It was far too specific and detailed. The cases were more the exceptions than the general rule and I am happy that at least I remembered when to apply the “183-day-rule* in a case of double taxation and when not even to bother.


We are NOT relocation professionals even though we often engage them

Later in my Human Resources career I noticed that there is really not a lot of good advice out there for international HR professionals PLUS if you say you work in Global Mobility a lot of people think you are doing relocation. When talking to other HR Professionals and senior managers they often underestimate the complexity of Global Mobility and one of the remarks that still makes me angry is when Global Mobility Professionals are called “ADMIN” because what we do requires an enormous knowledge and skill set.

If you are one of my colleagues you probably share my view that Global Mobility Professional have to be

  • Highly analytical (you are a comp and cost expert).
  • Highly technical (you are an expert on tax, social security, immigration, employment law).
  • Highly experiential (you have to have moved 200 expats to know your job).
  • Highly sensitive (you work with talents and their families in a phase of high stress).
  • Highly intercultural (you speak at least four languages and deal with numerous cultures).

There is no formal Global Mobility education and profession.

We need to build up our own professional standard and education while we need to learn to work more in line with the businesses and clients we serve. We need to step up and become real consultants.

If you want to know how –>> sign up  for our updates on “The Global Mobility Workbook – A Step-by-Step Guide for managing international Assignments” in the pink box.


Kind regards

Angela Weinberger

...more than relocation...
…more than relocation…

When you enter Global Mobility into Google search, one of the top results is for an international chauffeur service. This of course has little to do the kind of global mobility advisory services we offer. The term global mobility is quite broad and covers international relocation, household goods shipping and a specialized function in human resources.

In the olden days it was also called “HR International” but that term became a bit out-dated when HR departments globalized. Now “Global Mobility” is the equivalent of the group that handles your international staff transfers together with a wide network of third-party providers. In an increasing number of large companies Global Mobility also deals with international local hires, international project workers and business travellers.

Today’s global mobility professionals are “GM Specialists”,  “GM Consultants” or “GM Managers” depending on their years of experience and volume of assignments. They are knowledgeable in immigration, tax, social security and employment law. They also need a good grasp of psychological skills. Not only do they need to be strong at sourcing the right candidates and developing the talents of an organization. They also have to manage an ever-increasing network of service providers. Sometimes they consult “trailing spouses” as well. In addition, GM Professionals must have a high intercultural competency when dealing with counterparts across the globe, be good at organizing and be cost effective.

We assume that companies with a professional Global Mobility service will often have a higher employee engagement and better performance ratings of their expats and international local hires especially in the first year of assignment.

Why do we think that?

You (the expat) want to focus on the new job assignment and getting it done right. You can hardly support your partner with finding a job or starting the children at their new international school. Facilitating the organization of the assignment and helping with the adjustment is the role of Global Mobility.

If you, your family or your company could use the expertise of a global mobility professional, please contact us. We also welcome your experience.

Thank you,

Angie Weinberger

Making friends in the new location


Whether making a global transition with your partner, family or just yourself, there comes a time after all the boxes have been unpacked and life returns to “normal” that you might begin to feel a bit lonely.

With the prevalence of social media and smartphones, it is easier than ever to remain connected with specific communities. However, it has been my experience that creating meaningful relationships in the host country is a key part to feeling more settled and at home. If you find yourself wanting to connect with other like-minded global people who are also living in your host country, then I have some advice for you.

First, try to find support groups. These are groups of people who are in the same phase of life or have the same interests as you. Maybe it’s a sports club, a “Mommy and Me” playgroup or a professional network. Once you find yourself amongst people similar to you, it’s easier to make friends.

If you are single and find yourself in a new country, seek ways to connect with other singles before going out on your own. Women especially find this helpful.

Friends are not only people you can go out with, but they are also people you rely on for support. It’s easier to express your feelings about the new country or life in general with a friend. Still some assignees may find it beneficial to work with a professional life coach or counselor to share feelings and experiences they might be having.

Whichever approach works best for you, remember that making friends requires courage and patience. Once you’ve made some friends in your new home, life abroad will be that much more rewarding.

What are some other ways you’ve made friends in a new place?

For a great community and social events in Switzerland, check out these sites:

Tips GPT_3In my last posts on “How to find a job in Switzerland” we discussed the résumé changes (#1) you have to do for Switzerland especially as well as how to put together a set of work references (#2) and then we went on to managing the interview (#3). Some of my advice is culture-specific to Swiss culture but I believe this one is more universal.

Did you ever receive an email that was so strikingly nice that you could not resist but had to pick up the phone and call the sender? Unless this was the love of your life maybe it was a person who knows how to communicate well in writing. Let’s call her Petra. Like Petra some of us have a talent for emails. If you are one of these people you could use your talent to help other people for example by writing a referral or a recommendation or even an #FF (Follow Friday recommendation on Twitter).

If you want to write a good referral it is important that you state the strengths of the person you are talking about.  For example: You want to introduce Paul, a website developer to Susan, who is just starting her business. Ideally Paul’s strength meets a need of Susan. You could say “Susan, I recently worked with Paul. He developed my website in less than the time expected, amazed me with the end result and I even paid the price he originally quoted. With the start of your new business I thought you might need a good web designer. You can contact Paul best via email. Kindly cc me on the note so he knows that we are in touch. Petra”

If you are referring for networking purposes only you can look for a common interest of Paul and Susan: “Susan, I recently met Paul. Like you, he loves to travel backpacking style through remote locations. I thought you too would get along well so I wanted to connect you on Facebook. Is that ok for you? Petra”.

In order to do good referrals you need to kow the people in your network well. You should remember their hobbies, children and partners. You also need to learn to listen to your contacts when you go for lunch or dinner. Often, we just talk and completely forget to listen and remember details about the people we are meeting. Give it a try and let us know what happened.

Have an inspired day!