global mobility expert

Why You Should Be a Global Mobility Expert, Instead of Being a Specialist

There is a world of a difference between being a “specialist” and being an “expert.” The functions and strengths of these two talents may sound identical; both after all have made a name and a career in handling niche, complex jobs that require a depth of knowledge and experience in an equally challenging field that not everyone can master.

However, the evolving business landscape and the increasing sophistication that requires a company to become more competitive have redefined these terms. CEOs and other executive decision-makers are relying more on the advice of  colleagues they have come to regard as “global mobility experts” (although the title isn’t cast in stone). Expertise denotes a mastery of skill in various interrelated industries, an extraordinary ability to see the overall picture, and the capability to make tough business calls.

CEOs see global mobility experts as strategic partners and allies who are marching with them step by step to ensure the company reaches its business objectives. A global mobility specialist may be called on to provide information and advice that the CEO needs, but his decision-making powers remains much lower than the CEO’s.

To use the war front as an illustration: if the CEO were a general in an army, his global mobility expert is one of his trusted colonels who sits with him in all of his war councils. In this scenario, a global mobility specialist is the captain or head of security who is asked to step into the room every so often to give the latest intelligence and his own recommendations; however, he does get to leave the room once his job is done. His reports will also be scrutinized by the other higher-ranking officers in the war chamber.

See the picture? Which would you rather be: an executive global mobility expert or a supportive global mobility specialist?

The Forum Expatriate Management says that in order to become regarded as a global mobility expert, a global mobility specialist would have to grow into the following roles:

He would have to be a builder of international talent, not just a recruiter of skilled foreign nationals. A global mobility specialist is adept in signing assignees and monitoring their performance over the next few years. That’s his job. A global mobility expert, on the other hand, must be able to build a long-term talent pipeline that he can tap into to fill vacancies that assignees need at any given time. He must also be able to nurture their professional growth — and instead of sending them home once their contract is done, recommend them to another hub or another office in another part in the world that can use their skills.

In this regard, he must also be a walking encyclopedia of talent knowledge. He can recite on-demand the most in-demand positions in Silicon Valley, the evolution of IT workers in India, and be able to tap the talent pool in Eastern Europe.

A global mobility expert must also be a problem-solver. He must be able to think out of the box. For example, he does not just give up if a choice assignee’s request for a visa is turned down. As the article puts it, he can have the assignee work in the company’s office in Singapore for two years. After further strengthening his programming skills and knowledge of the financial hub in Asia, this assignee would be in a better position to handle management roles in AI (artificial intelligence) startups in San Francisco and all around Silicon Valley.

This kind of quick thinking is more needed now, given  the current U.S. administration’s radical decisions on immigrant-friendly policies that sustain global recruitment. A global mobility’s expert must be able to handle his cool and provide solutions should the processing of an assignee’s H1-B visa be delayed, or his wife’s request for an H4 visa be denied.

Finally, the global mobility expert must be able to ride the waves of technological change and use them to his advantage, instead of merely coping with them — or worse, being drowned by them. HR Tech, Big Data, analytics, and social media can become valuable tools to help him see the big picture, which senior management needs. Using these tools, he can analyze current recruitment trends, weigh current ROI vs. projected expenses, and forecast the next game-changing market, and the kind of assignee that can make a difference in it.

A talent builder, a problem solver, and a tech master — these are the roles that global mobility specialists can assume to become global mobility experts. In time, as their value becomes more recognized by their CEOs, their titles and positions can change. Global Mobility Director does have a nice ring to it.