Category Archives: Global Leaders

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Interviewee's headshot
Petra

Petra lives in Hamburg and if you meet her in person, you’ll probably notice one of her eighteen shades of blue. Born and raised in Germany, one of her qualities is working in-time, which means to take care of customer’s leadership needs as much as possible in the Here and Now – also and especially when it’s complex and challenging.  She is a Global Leadership Coach and with decades of experience across international Business, NGOs and engagement for Women and Black issues, she has become a specialised Transformation Synergist.


Petra’s mission now is to support GLOBAL WOMEN IN/TO LEADERSHIP. 

But how she got there is a very unconventional story. 

In Africa they say, you know people by their name. And yes, Petra’s name already tells a story.  The german part, her father’s name Sorge, had been widely seen as ‘worry’. When starting to work globally Petra used its second meaning ‘taking care of’. Because that’s what she’s used to doing i.e. taking care of others professionals’ success. After her late marriage with an Afrobrazilian she decided to make her surname a bridge between cultures and became Sorge dos Santos, ‘care of the Saints’.

Petra was a pioneer in her field and  throughout her life she developed a certain focus on learning and teaching. At 21, while she was still studying Adult’s Education she also started her career. Funnily enough, she began teaching a class made up by male ex-soldiers only. Coming from the last only female class of a girls’ high school, at university she early noticed the lack of female professors and the absence of awareness about women’s issues.

She felt tremendously the urge to fill this gap and became one of the founders of  the NGO ‘Hamburg Women’s Week’ – where 260 female experts taught 9000 women in just six days, while the only men inside the university building took care of their children. Subsequently, she founded another NGO, ‘Denk-t-räume’, a women’s center for learning and research. Since then she’s never stopped doing what she loves which is empowering women and  changing the narrative around them. Let’s remember that for as much as the gap in gender equality is still a big issue today, addressing this topic thirty years ago must have been a totally different story. 

After finishing her diploma, she went into the field of professional career training. One of her innovations was to implement coaching sessions, at a time (the late 80s) when coaching was nearly unknown in Germany.

In 1992, she had the luck to meet Michael Grinder, NLP founder John Grinder’s brother. Since he specialised in applying Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) into teaching,  she was highly motivated to deepen her understanding of Neurolearning and two years later obtained a master’s degree in NLP.

In 1986, Brazil came in and changed her life.
She travelled solo for three months which felt like diving into a fascinating new world. A world which fascinated her with her tradition of music and dance but which also challenged her ‘Germanness’.

When she went back to Germany, she became a member of the first women’s foundation. Having lly get to know in person the power and competence of purposeful female leaders from the Global South. Coming back to her country that typically only saw them as needy migrants and that still considered even German women as inferior was quite a challenge. All this finally turned into her today’s identity of Globalista and it fueled her decision to become self-employed: in 1995 she founded CL!C – Crossculture Linking and Consulting. 

Global Leaders who deal with international teams and customers especially need to understand others and the cultural differences they bring at the table.  And this is where her expertise came in: for more than fifteen years, she trained international leaders and their teams to acquire more cultural competencies. This job opened her eyes to what the difficulties in leading with diversity often are.  It also made her perceive how the majority of Western leaders, on average male and 55 years old (in Germany), carry a serious deficit of cultural intelligence (CQ). 

At the same time, she also realised that well-qualified women who grew up, studied and worked in two or more  cultures/countries are very different in this sense. They can adapt to and navigate different cultures more easily. This is one of the reasons why Petra now focuses on what she calls Global Women and their different needs in becoming successful leaders.

 
Petra’s professional life was eventful and rich in changes. After her overseas consultancy had taken her to support women not only in Brazil, but also in the Caribbean and Angola, she became inspired to work on the radio. She created Radio Triangula where she focussed on Africa-Brazil-Hamburg, played nice-to-dance music and introduced to the public global men and women engaged across cultures. Later on she also hosted a local TV program called ‘Hamburgisch by Culture’ where she regularly held biographical interviews with her Hamburg guests. Bringing diversity into the media was quite a good way to balance her other job as a trainer of German male executives.
A serious health issue finally forced her to think her career over and – like she always tells her coachees –  to start focusing on what she really wanted. And that is to make leadership become more global, diverse and female both in quantity and quality.

Her personal goal is to bring all her expertise together in one project. For her, this means she will do more than  COACHING. Her virtual learning together with her trainer background calls for what is state of the art: ONLINE LEARNING.  This is also true for her target group: women who feel home in more than one culture, who don’t only live in Hamburg or Germany and who are definitely spending part of their working/learning time online. Starting her project  in English enables her to realise her vision of CONNECTING across cultures. Thirty years ago she already connected with one another female leaders from the Global South. Now, she wants to connect women who belong to the young generations. Finally, integrating her passion for media, she will talk about her global participants and expert role models through her podcast ‘Leadership Lights’ as well as her ‘Petra Global TV’ starting as a Facebook Live. 


So for her as well as for her participants it’s about “Leading with GUTS”

Example of tagline

What are the main obstacles in the work that Petra so passionately does?

“The main problem with Global Leaders is their lack of self-awareness.” This characteristic is, in fact, often overlooked and regarded as a merely private aspect of a leader’s life. But knowing yourself and being able to lead oneself is fundamental when it comes to working with others, especially in a globalized environment. Nowadays, with the digitalization of company culture, employees need leadership with personality more than ever.

Are you also attracted by the topic of Leadership and/or do you want to become an Intercultural Trainer? 

Then Petra’s main piece of advice for you is to widen your open-mindedness and nurture your curiosity. Her personal secret to success is, whatever career you decide to embark on, go for something you really want, do not follow the path someone else paved for you.

If you’re a student, you can choose courses in Cross-Cultural Management / Intercultural Communication led by professionals from the field.
If you’re already in international business you should consider taking a professional qualification on top. Aside from that, Petra believes that only by DOING you become an actual coach and trainer.  

Finally, let’s look at Petra’s recommended books: 

  • ‘Das Rebellische Eigentum’ by Peter Martin –the rebellious property. A Study on enslaved Africans, showing their many facets of rebellion, right from the start. 
  • I love myself when I’m laughing by Zora Neale Hurston – An anthology of the intellectual and spiritual foremother of the next generation of black writers.
  • ‘Dare to Lead’ by Brené Brown – a female reframe of Leadership by a famous TED speaker who pleads for starting from vulnerability.

Petra’s whole life has formed her into the global synergist of transformation that she is today. Her breakthrough program for Global women that she is promoting at the moment is called ‘Leading with GUTS’.
While combining a global mindset-work with understanding and including others and transformation with self-Awareness, it covers three parts of online leadership learning in this sequence: 1. Leading Self 2. Global Competence 3. Leading Others
If you are interested, register for her free challenge ‘Smartly Overcoming Leadership Barriers’. If you want to start on a smaller scale her Leading Self Kickoff might be interesting for you.

Example of an Online Challenge

Do you find Petra’s story as interesting and exciting as I did? Do you want to drop her a personal message? You can contact her via email or you can visit her website or podcast Leadership Lights. Or you can listen to Radio Triangular, live stream every fourth Saturday of the month at 5 PM CET. 


In order to support this  B2C-approach she is looking for partnerships which might also extend to a B2B-trainee program inside companies. The best way to contact her is via  LinkedIn.

 

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is currently working as Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

Emergency

If you are on my reader list you have probably known me for a while now. In all those years of us interacting with each other did I ever let you down? Did I ever mention that I was “under the weather”, “have a migraine” or “that I am on sick leave.”? 

Do you remember when that was?

Because the last time I remember that I was not working because I had the flu was in 2011 when I was still working for PwC. You probably didn’t know me then. The last time I was hospitalized with a slipped disk was in 2007 in Frankfurt. I’m considered an active and healthy person at almost 48 years (Yes, rub it in…). As you know from Pandemic – Part 1 I can go skiing for a week despite the fact that I’m not exercising as much as I should. 

Come #Day4 (Tuesday, 17 March 20) and I think I will die alone in my apartment. After the hasty return from skiing and emergency managing work on Monday I felt extremely dizzy that morning. I was concerned that I was going to faint. I wanted to get tested for CORONA-Virus. I made an appointment at my doctor’s practice for the afternoon. I was willing to pay 200 CHF (that was the price I heard). I just wanted clarity on what was going on with me.

Emergency

The Dark Side clouds Your Judgement

My doctor suggested I was having an anxiety attack from being alone at home and from reading everything I could about CORONA. He said that my blood and blood pressure was fine, heart rate fine and that he couldn’t hear anything worth noting in my lungs. Also, he mentioned that they didn’t have enough tests so only “serious cases” would be tested. I wasn’t even a “case”. I was just imagining… The dark side had taken over obviously. I felt stupid, like a little reprimanded 7 year old asking to stay home from school for nothing. Went home and (oh surprise) was calm, composed and better. 

I worked more than normal, because (as you might know) I’m dealing with immigration issues, health and safety topics and I run a start-up. I had new team members to train from the home office and a lot of stuff needed to be organized now that is usually done by other people…such as making sure I have something to eat. In week 2 I had a migraine and other issues but women get that stuff (although it’s never been so bad…). I reminded my doctor one more time in writing that I wanted to get tested and why. In the meantime, two friends from skiing were confirmed positive.

After the second week of quarantine was over, I informed my doctor and the cantonal health authority  that I felt okay and that I would like to ask my partner to return home now. The doctor had previously instructed me to “clean the bathroom”. You have to know that we have a rather small apartment in central Zurich. I was concerned that my partner could get infected through me which is why I had asked him to move out while I was in quarantine.

Kylo Ren must Breathe

To be honest I had breathing issues in St. Anton and my chest hurt sometimes. My friend said that I was snoring at night. Like everybody else though I was in strong denial. I thought it could be the virus but there were also a lot of other options (mountain disease, overconsumption of Schnaps, lack of general fitness, a tight nose…). 

I should have listened to my body instead of the doctor. From #Day17 onwards I found it hard to talk on G-Hangout, my voice was straining, I was getting tired easily. (I can hold full-day workshops and lectures normally.) My stress level was at peak because I didn’t sleep well at all. #Day18 and #Day19 I just hoped for the weekend.

#Day21 I need to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon. #Day22 finally Saturday and I’m outside collecting twigs, returning the recycling, making decorations, spring cleaning and building a bird gym. 

#Day23 I spent painting and offline. I was in my happy place, the post on the Pandemic Part 3 was almost done and I felt I was finally productive again. I felt that we would manage to survive this pandemic as a couple, as a family and as a team.

Suddenly, I felt like Kylo Ren had put his mask over my face (how did he do that?). My breathing was harder, the chest pain became worse and I sat at the open window counting to 10. When I lifted the washing basket I saw stars (not the ones outside). 

This was not me. The dark side had taken over my body. I was out of force.

The Corona-Jedi

On Sunday night we decided to call the Aerztefon. Despite a few technical Internet issues I got help and an ambulance took me to the hospital. Sunday night after a CT the doctor confirmed, that I have #COVID19. 

Many of my symptoms over the last three to four weeks were probably COVID19-related. As soon as I was lying there I started to relax. I felt safe. I could finally sleep well for the first time since we left St. Anton. (…)

The Hirslanden clinic in Zurich is well-equipped to deal with COVID19 patients. They have great nurses and doctors. I had a nice view, birds singing in the morning and evening. The food was excellent. On Thursday (#Day27) I was released and asked to join the rebellion.

I’m now staying in a temporary place until a spaceship picks me up because my partner is in quarantine at home. I feel fine today as I’m writing this. I still need to bring my energy level back to 100% but I can proudly say that I’m now a CORONA-JEDI. 

In my view, the “mild” version of COVID19 should be rebranded to “the Rollercoaster”. Looking back I think I went through five loops of feeling better, then worse, then better, then worse etc. With every loop a new area of my body was under attack. RIght now, I still have a mild fallout and I tend to become tired out of the blue. 

In case you are now in the situation where you are not sure about your symptoms please request to get tested with urgency. If the cabin fever is getting too hard to handle, please reach out to me. We can talk this through. You will be fine eventually. Don’t make the same mistake and wait too long. Get clarity now and deal with the dark force. Check out my 20 missions below and don’t be a stranger.

Thank you to everyone who messaged me last week. I really needed to hear your words.

Have a creative week ahead!

Angie

 

20 Quarantine Missions

40) Get to know the dark force. Watch this video by @chriscuomo. Once I got that, I decided to get up and move in my “isolation cell”. Since the beginning of the lockdown in Switzerland I have taken in the fresh Zürich air as often as possible even if it means wearing a pashmina in the summer. Get up and move.

41) Try Claudia Horner’s Online Active Meditation. I’ve been trying to show you active meditation in this video in SloMo. You can do this in a small confined space as well.

42) Make Something Creative with Coffee. Coffee powder is useful to save plants.

43) Learn to Bake German Vollkornbrot. This is a great skill to have at any time, anywhere in the galaxy. Even in Bothawui the traders sometimes accept German Vollkornbrot as a currency especially when they have digestive challenges.

44) Start A Wish Book. A wish book helps you to write down what you are wishing for and keep it all in one place. I’m at wish No. 1281 right now. It’s important to make concrete, motivating, always present, imaginable, sensible and ethical wishes. They should be open-ended (because otherwise we call them goals.).

45) Upgrade The Home Office. Get a few classy products via home delivery by Papeterie Fischer. They still have toilet paper and their service is completely personal.

I would like to buy that globe for my upgraded home office. Seen at @paperterie_fischer_ag.

46) Read A Paper Book. Discover the good old bookstore again.

47) Take a Bollywood dancing tutorial with Stuti Aga Dance Company.

48) Follow real Subject Matter Experts and Scientists. Here is a wonderful analysis by @maithi_nk in GERMAN. This is a well-explained analysis of where we right now in the pandemic and what to expect by maiLAB. She has a few followers.

49) Buy That Camera. Take an online photography class and work on your technique.

50) Plan A Journey to A Country You Didn’t Dare to Go Before Covid19. What’s the worst thing that can happen? That you catch diarrhea? Ha.

51) Write That Novel You Have Been Talking About. If that’s too scary, write a guest blog for us on the #pandemic and how you are coping with it from wherever you live right now. Baby Steps, honey. 

52) Conduct one Expert Interview per Week. Post your video on Youtube or a write-up on LinkedIn. Give the Subject Matter Expert the credit, exposure and funding they might need right now in order to continue their life’s work.

53) Use ISOS. If your company is a member of “International SOS” download the ISOS App and sign up NOW.

54) Send an Orchid to an Elderly Person by chipping in the CROWDFUNDING of Hans-Peter Meyer and his wife from SwissOrchid. You can follow them on Instagram too.

55) Make a fasting cure for a few days. Angela Warm offers webinars on cleaning and cleansing. She also mixes the most amazing soothing creams. https://warmwellness.com/

56) Go Wild with Online Karaoke. I haven’t tried this because I prefer to sing in the bathtub with Chris Mann singing Phantom of the Opera. However, I think it would be a lot of fun. I also love this song “Thank you Frontline”.

57) Write the SWISS Emergency Number on a Big Display. This way you don’t have to search when you’re unwell. Remember 144 is for life-threatening emergencies. For #COVID19 call the “Aerztefon” if you suspect you have #COVID19 and cannot reach your doctor. 0800 33 66 55

58) Go on a Movie Date. Order a pizza or piadina from SPIZZATI and watch a movie with a date online. There is FB Watchparty, streaming etc but you can also watch TV together and use the commercial breaks to talk via WhatsApp call. During the moving you just mute yourself. That way it feels as if you are watching together.

59) Join A Hackathon Like this One. Hackathons can be a high energy, adrenaline filled event for coding enthusiasts, but they are now coming together to do global good, like the Versus Virus Hackathon. Considering joining it if you are eager to help.

60) Pack an Emergency Backpack w/ Essentials. Toiletry, toothbrush, shampoo, soap, comb, brush, razors, cream and vaseline, eau de toilette, medicine, paper and pen, a pocket book, phone, charger, headphones, wallet, passport or ID, medical information (allergies), emergency contact numbers, cash, jogging pants, one change of clothes and underwear.

—————–

#CoronaCatan

Do you know the board game CATAN? I’m rebuilding a spaceship in my living room. Sometimes it is also called home office. I’m looking for a few items that I don’t have right now. Maybe you want to get rid of them in exchange for other essentials. I’m looking for a good microphone, an external CD drive, binoculars / opera glasses and a big globe. I would also like a telescope. I can pay in the currency of toilet paper, yeast and pasta.

——————————–

Self-Isolation Instructions

If you need to self-isolate (anywhere in the world) these instructions might be helpful.

https://www.bag.admin.ch/dam/bag/en/dokumente/mt/k-und-i/aktuelle-ausbrueche-pandemien/2019-nCoV/merkblatt-selbstisolation-covid-19.pdf.download.pdf/covid-19_instructions_self-isolation.pdf

———

FOLLOW ME

You can subscribe to my blog www.globalpeopletransitions.com and you’ll receive the weekly “Global People Club Sandwich”

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/become-a-reader-of-the-global-people-club-sandwich/

Follow me on Twitter (@angieweinberger).

Connect with me on LinkedIn

I also share personal photos on Instagram (@angie_weinberger).

—————————————-

Do you like conspiracy theories?

Various novel-like Holocaust scenarios circulate on the Internet that report the outbreak of a biological weapon from Wuhan. The last one I read scared me a little but then I thought it must be FAKE news because according to this theory I would be dead right now and it’s weird that I’m still able to write to you if I was dead right? So I dug a bit and found a good site to verify whether what you are reading is real or just another conspiracy theory. What annoys me even more than conspiracy theory (where at least I can appreciate the storytelling element of the writer) are those former doctors, virologists or others who downplay the Corona-Virus. These people are responsible for stubborn elderly citizens still going to supermarkets and pharmacies thinking that COVID19 is just “like the flu”. The other people that annoy me (please unfollow if you belong to them) are those who think that a 2% mortality rate is acceptable. Either they don’t understand statistics (please unfollow) or they are just nazis or social darwinists. A 2% mortality rate is high.

Example Switzerland: They say for “herd immunity” you need about 60% of the population infected and healed from COVID19. 

8’200’000 x 0.6 = 4’920’000

4’920’000 x0.02 = 98’400 (UNLESS a CURE is found before).

By now you know at least one person who is infected so think about this. I’m still unhappy about the lack of CORONA Tests in Switzerland. It took Switzerland five weeks to get organized for mass testing. An app is being discussed to track and trace infected people and their contacts.

This is a country that is one of the biggest pharma exporters in the world, supposedly has one of the highest standards in healthcare in the world AND practices “WAR Scenarios” constantly. Am I missing something?

Further reads:

https://amp.theguardian.com/books/2020/mar/05/theres-something-out-there-spread-of-disease

https://mobile.reuters.com/article/amp/idUSKCN20M19I

COVID19

Dear Clients,

It’s Easter Monday and I hope you are safe. I will tell you about my journey with #covid19 shortly. In case you are wondering if we are working…Yes, we do work. However, I’m on sick leave for a few more days recovering from #Covid19.

My Covid-19 Update No. 3 ~ 13 April 2020

 

– Our RockMe! Executive Coaching sessions are offered only on G-Hangout until at least 30 April 2020.

Our Terms and Conditions: We don’t charge any cancellation fees for short-notice cancellations during this state of emergency. We understand if your children are crying in the background and need your attention. As of 1 May 2020 T&C will apply again.

– #GlobalMobilityAcademy Workshops will be postponed to a later point in time, probably not starting before 1 July 2020. There will be homework to be completed before the courses start. You will be informed by email.

#TransitionCoaching: You can book coaching sessions in case you wish to get through any type of transitions. Sessions are limited to 90 Minutes.

#RockMeApp: Online support is available 24/7 via our #RockMeApp. Everyone who signs up by 17 April 2020 gets free access to our RockMe! online program. I wish to help you through this. Hence, this is a gift!

#HireMeExpress: If you are looking for a job right now check out our #HireMeExpress program. Sign up by 17 April 2020.

#GlobalPeopleClubSandwich: We will continue to blog here. ~> Sign up to get our updates “The Global People Club Sandwich”.

~> Guest Bloggers: We accept guest bloggers if you meet our guidelines.

 

 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

Other Channels


•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

 

***Global Mobility Folks***

Please join the Expatise Academy Portal for group chat and online support. We offer a very special #COVID19 deal on the full content right now.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

***Trainers and Coaches***

– If you’re moving to online coaching and want to try out the #RockMeApp email me to angela@globalpeopletransitions.com. We can help you move from physical 1:1 to online in a GDPR-compliant way.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

HireMe! now for Post-Covid19 Talks and Workshops on

Global Mobility, Expat Experience, Global Talent and Leadership Development, Culture Transformation, Transcultural Communication, Diversity and Inclusion, Social Recruiting, Global Talent Acquisition, Digital Organization of your Global, Virtual Teams, Global Career Planning, and Transition Planning for Expats and Expat Spouses. 

 

Recent legislative and policy changes in many countries around the world seem to be signaling a global shift from open market to a form of protectionism. Today, I would like to discuss what exactly this is and how it impacts everyone in Global Mobility, using the example of an upheaval close to us: the dreaded Brexit.

Before we delve into Brexit, let’s take a look first at how open market policies were and still are beneficial to Global Mobility.

Open Markets and Free Trade

It all boils down to the fact that free trade agreements specifically include concessions for mobility. Combined with reduced taxes and government programs to encourage foreign investments, this literally opened the door for GM professionals to successfully ply their trade in different countries. Another step later down in this pipeline is the streamlining of visas and entry requirements – all things that promote the movement of skilled professionals across borders.

Brexit: An End to Unrestricted Movement

The political machinations that led to the UK deciding to part ways with the EU, that is, Brexit, have been discussed far and wide and I will not be going over them. If you are looking to brush up on it, the NY Times and BBC have good summaries here and here, respectively. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that the British people have been promised that Brexit would mean an end to the EU’s famed free movement, that is, the right of people from mainland Europe to live and work in Britain. This is a form of protectionism, the term mentioned earlier. Protectionism refers to the economic curtailing of foreign imports through tariffs, quotas, and other governmental policies. Cutting down on the import of foreign workers falls under it, in direct opposition to the free movement that made the EU a unique success story in world history.

Common sense identifies this as a detrimental idea, not only to GM professionals but to long-term economic stability and growth, yet so few speak up against it – the very fact that Brexit is happening is evidence of that fact. Why is that so?

Fear-based Politics Is a Tool of Suppression

A major reason for that is the fear-mongering stoked by politicians, particularly about how immigration and immigrants “steal” the jobs of the locals – this belief is particularly strong among the working class who rally behind all attempts to close down free movement. Unfortunately, this spread of fear works on everyone, at various levels, especially in these times of economic hardship, it is easy to buy into the idea that immigrants are responsible for the worsening economy or the lack of jobs. No one likes to step out of their comfort zone, especially to speak up about uncomfortable topics.

The result? While Brexit has been lingering for years, the political uncertainty it has led to is already creating ripples across the GM community. Companies will be faced with increasingly challenging situations when seeking to move the talent they want, into the location where they are needed most.

Many companies are moving out of or planning to move out of the UK, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs from locals. Clearly not the best-case scenario.

This unpredictability is not limited merely to the immigration aspects of Global Mobility, as taxation and exchange of information would become increasingly sophisticated, making it more difficult for companies and authorities to work out and resolve issues of governance and tax payment. A potential problem that arises from this unpredictability is not knowing how the UK will treat its laws and legislation dealing with worker rights, taxation and other aspects that were based on relevant sections of EU law. That is something troubling corporations and experts in finances, taxation and mobility alike.

Another factor determining why we haven’t been more outspoken about the ramifications of politics on our field is the overabundance of fake news. When someone’s statement is countered with aggressively presented “facts”, the people believing in those “facts” can end up influencing others and drowning out our voice of reason.

Does anyone remember the infamous “Brexit Bus”? Despite being proven to be a falsehood, that “fact” is considered one of the major reasons the Brexit referendum was won by Leave. Despite people speaking up about the falsehood of that “fact”, the Brexit Bus still swayed millions with its lie. How does one make themselves heard in such a scenario?

Echoes of Brexit Around the World

Brexit and EU are not the only places where this tidal wave of fear-based politics and misinformation have had an impact on Global Mobility. In March 2018, Australia ended one of its most popular work visas for global professionals with claims that the visa was taking jobs away from Australians, replacing it with one that was a lot more stricter on professionals and companies alike. The USA’s stance towards the mobility of foreigners is also of note, targeting millions of Muslims from around the world, and about the same number from south of their border through the implementation of various “travel bans”. These policies have been crucial in disrupting nearly all companies that source their talent globally.

As these roadblocks mount, we are faced with a unique, ever-growing challenge of navigating political opposition to its core tenant and unpredictable laws that can spring up at any moment. Given this uncertainty, what we can do at this turbulent time is developing a series of rapid response protocols/procedures that allow us to stay on top of these shifts while carving out a longer-term plan for navigating these changing political waters.

We need to stay relevant

As mentioned by Tracy Figliola and Gina Vecchio in their excellent article “Global Mobility Coming of Age” (The International HR Adviser, Winter 2019/2020) we are currently at the crossroads of extinction or expansion of our profession. As I’ve been working on expanding our skillset and mindset over the last few years, I would certainly hope that we step up our game this year.

If we want to continue adding value as a function we need to show through our actions that we are finding solutions to all those ever more complex issues. I usually hold back my political opinion here and on social media for fear of attracting trolls and haters but I committed yesterday to support “outsiders” more, and to work with an even more diverse team in 2020.

We need to think big and start with baby steps at our own front yard. For example, I will work with an intern from Africa this year. My clients come from around the world but we can still do more to encourage global competency development and break down the barriers to Global Mobility. We can set examples and work on positive changes in our realm of influence whether we are expats, expat entrepreneurs, scientists or Global Mobility Professionals.

PS: As a lecturer and Expatise Academy Advisory Board member I recommend the Master Course in Global Mobility at Erasmus University. As the Registration deadline is approaching you should decide fast and read more here.

 

I used to once tell my colleagues that I sometimes feel that I am like an orchid. I would only blossom in the right environment and when I get a lot of love from the people working with me. As a creative person, I also need to feel safe and accepted and this is the hardest part because we often make connections between items that others will not connect. Also, connect people with each other who would not necessarily see why they should be connected. 

On the weekend I attended a short workshop in a monastery of a Dominican sisterhood in Ilanz. There in the loving eyes of those sisters, I immediately understood why I would like my clients to come to our RockMeRetreat: It’s because my heart is my compass. I only trust my heart and sometimes I also listen to my brain. However, we are taught in our society to not trust our heart anymore and that is why many of us are unwell and feel stuck. At the RockMeRetreat I will give you all the love that you need to blossom like an orchid again. You will learn to trust your heart again. Feel invited and welcome. You can still join us in 2020. I’m accepting applications now.

Our project and event manager, Monika Fischer, a veteran of cross-disciplinary fields including global mobility, cleverly alternates between allegory and candid self-reflection of her own extensive career to outline some forms of biases that can be observed in professional spaces and how to handle them. You can read her full essay below:

I have never had a green thumb, that is until I lived in Singapore for ten years and got used to being surrounded by blossoming orchids. They look very pretty and colorful, come in many shapes, shades and sizes. Through the sophisticated ability to have so many faces, some people think that all orchids are extremely demanding. Are they though?

People use shortcuts, also called biases, unconsciously. Research shows that this filtering ability of our brain basically saves it from exploding due to too many impressions and data shooting into it any second. Over the evolution of humanity, our brain learned to generalize myriads of known circumstances, create patterns and suggest immediate solutions. We are not even aware of this process, hence unconscious.

Roche research showed (as addressed by Kristen Pressner at a TED talk in Basel in 2016) that people award different attributes to male and female personalities. Whereas men are connected with characteristics like leadership, providing, assertiveness, strength, and drive, female counterparts usually get attributes like supportive, emotional, helpful, sensitive and fragile.

For our everyday life, it might be too strong a requirement to change how we speak. In a business setting, however, I argue that one should step back from time to time, reflect and think again: when I say a manager or a CEO, do I use a “he” in the next sentence? What if I used a “she”, how would it change my perspective? What if I think of my male colleague as being supportive, emotional, helpful, sensitive and fragile? A female leader behaving assertively, driven and strong, is she a great leader or a “bitch”? There is no one-size-fits-all, even though our brain suggests easy readings.

My personal experience in the past several years in Switzerland when looking for new professional challenges for the age of 50+ (I turned 60 this year) uncovered several biases. Common in recruitment, in job ads and in the reasons for rejection. The general understanding says that older candidates are expensive, out of touch with technology, unwilling to learn, not mobile or flexible. There is also the perception that senior workers will be sick more often and take advantage of the pension fund and other statutory benefits. 

That may be applicable to some or even most of them, I do not know. What I do know is that my life took me through several countries, forced me into various professional fields and in different career levels. I mastered all situations, brought up three millennials who now have excellent jobs, I even built a new successful business in a foreign culture. 

Every 2-3 years I get a new certification or vocational training in something that interests me. 

Yet, no wonder, I do not fit in a neat list of requirements that are expected from a regular job candidate in Switzerland. Basically, a linear resume with a field of study that I would work a number of years in. I ask myself, who is it that lacks flexibility? Am I really expensive? Maybe a potential employer needs a person skilled in overseeing a vast field of challenges without losing the focus. Quick assessment of risks in early stages is more effective than problem solving later. Maybe I do not want to work full-time and my income is not the most important parameter for a job, maybe I wish to have a role with a purpose. Sounds familiar? You probably connect these expectations with young generations.

So, I am now an orchid lover. As mentioned above, some people never want to hear about having orchids at home. They are too sensitive, demanding, need too much care. Do they really? 

Those who know and love orchids will tell you that they are easy to care for, blossom for months, return to bloom for years when you give them basic care. In the past, I would buy a blooming plant that would lose the blossoms within days and then turn into a “salad”, a green-only something. Very often, I would soon discover some busy leaf bugs or mites and throw the plant away. 

My orchids do not get leaf bugs.

However, one day I found out that one of my orchids had tiny, white bugs around the submerged roots. Another day, I realized that another orchid was not only getting wrinkly leaves, but it had also not blossomed for a long time.

Did I change my mind about orchids then? Did I throw them all away? I didn’t. Did I say: All of them get bugs and wrinkles? I didn’t. 

I have 13 orchids, so I know that the majority of them behave differently. Let some of them be unhappy, inflexible, in a bad mood. After all, they are just living beings. Give them a chance to show what they can do for you. 

Imagine! One of my oldest orchids even rewarded me with a soft fragrance over several months this summer (I know, these species are not supposed to scent, yet it did). Be open-minded and you will meet wonderful orchids – and people. They may not be easy to read at first, but they will reward you along the way.

About the Author

Monika Fischer is an experienced international professional in relocation and global mobility, a versatile client and account relationship manager. She is also well-versed in sales, real estate marketing, office, and project management and skilled in effective communication in international teams. 

Monika still has capacity outside her current commitments with us. She can help you on a contract or part-time basis.  You can contact her through LinkedIn mentioning GPT or email her for further contact at abcd.mf@gmail.com