With more companies leveraging on global mobility to fill skill gaps and develop talent, it has become increasingly challenging for the mobility function to meet candidates’ demands while keeping costs low.

That was why Workforce Mobility Interactive 2016 invited HR and mobility experts to discuss the latest challenges in mobility as well as share possible solutions to overcome these challenges. The interactive conference was held on the 26th of February at Shangri-La, Singapore.

Inaugurating the conference was Richard Willeter, director of corporate services for Asia at Crown World Mobility, with his take on disruption in the mobility function, and ideas on how organisations can prime themselves for success.

“If we are moving into a more strategic place, we’ve got a problem, mobility managers are already having problems analysing all their data,” he said.

“With the function getting more strategic, there’s only going to be more data and we’ll get lost in a fog of data.”

He went on to provide tips for navigating this fog of data.

One of the key challenges for mobility professionals – facilitating cost reduction in mobility while dealing with increasing employee demands – was addressed in a panel discussion moderated by Ian Johnson, SVP of client development at Brookfield Global Relocation Services.

Joining him on the panel were Rita Chye, global lead for policy and administration of global mobility at General Motors Company; Tarun Gulrajani, head of HR for Asia Pacific at REHAU; and Peng Yang Long, the client solution manager for Asia at AIRINC.

Long pointed out: “No longer is the discussion about how much money assignees are going to make from this assignment. They are now asking about how this will affect their career.”

Another key challenge for mobility practitioners is convincing employees with schooling children to relocate for an assignment.

To address this challenge was Dr Margaret Alvarez, head of school at ISS International School, who gave a keynote presentation on how mobility managers can convince these parents by helping them in finding the right schooling options for their children when moving to Singapore.

“Globally, mobile students are perpetual outsiders, most of them were born in one nation, raised in others, and flung into global jet streams. Having said that, being an expat gives them opportunities to learn different languages and make connections.”

While relocating these employees, it is crucial for organisations to maintain compliance with global immigration law changes. With inspections and immigration audits on the rise, Stephen Park, head of global mobility at Fonterra, took the stage with his recommendations on how to keep up to date with these law changes.

Park reminded the delegates: “Immigration generally involves a government department, which creates a reputational risk in terms of your organisation’s relationship with the government.”

Another issue which the conference addressed was on developing local candidates through corporate mobility.

While it is good to relocate employees to fill certain skill gaps in the local workforce, it is also essential that organisations develop these skills locally and build up their local leadership pipeline. This is increasingly important in the current economic times when more governments are taking a “local first” approach.

This issue was addressed in a panel discussion moderated by Human Resources’ Aditi Sharma Kalra. On the panel were Tarun Gulrajani, head of HR for Asia Pacific at REHAU; Raghu Ram, global head of HR for the specialities business at Shell; and Makarand Tare, regional talent director for APAC at McCann Health.

Setting the context, Gulrajani pointed out: “There are two aspects to this discussion, one is the skills gap and the other is the development of talent. A lot of companies are looking more at the skills gap. But we have to look at the development and how we can bridge the skills gap using local talent.”

Ram provided one solution to the skills transfer issue.

“Any expat who comes in must have a goal-setting process as part of which, at the end of the assignment, they have to train a local. To make this a reality, it is necessary for companies to hire graduates and local pipeline leaders.”

Additionally, Tare pointed out a challenge mobility professionals were facing: “Who is going to take the responsibility to integrate the expat into the host team? There has to be someone to take responsibility of this, track results and to give reviews.”

Apart from the action on stage, delegates were involved in five interactive sessions where they exchanged ideas and shared insights on various aspects of mobility strategies. A rapid fire session was held to wrap up the event as a host from each table presented to delegates the major points they had summed up throughout the day.

Here are some exclusive photos of the conference:

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For more event photos, have a look at this album on our Facebook page.

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