Should Global Mobility Be Rebranded? Not So Fast When It Carries More Weight

The question has been in the minds of many global mobility managers the past few years, as they find their roles — along with their assignees — changing and transforming in alignment with global business demands. Changes do facilitate a call for a more precise categorization — the better to move forward.

Some years ago, global mobility managers were perceived by their bosses as executives mainly in charge of international recruitment, as well as the training and development of those talents that they had hired. In a sense, today’s global mobility managers find themselves in the same boat as their counterparts, the human resource professionals, about five years ago. Back then, the dilemma of these HR practitioners was whether or not to change their official title to talent managers or something similar.

The supposed shift was more than just a change in title and name, says HR MagazineRebranding did not mean just substituting new words for the traditional ones in the hopes of spiking popularity and attention. It really means redefining functions, changing positions when it comes to reporting to leadership, and expanding one’s coverage of tasks.

Global mobility managers, who are finding themselves called up to do more work beyond their designated areas, are asking themselves the same questions today.  Executives and senior management have been asking them to help out in certain decision-making processes, such that they are fast thinking of themselves as leaders, and not just managers.

Certain things have changed about global mobility. To begin with, as acknowledged by MMG, the entire platform of how companies are implementing it are changing. The old traditional model of a lone assignee or expatriate from the home country being sent to  countries with member offices, in order to supervise the locals, is a thing of the past. Today, international organizations grow and train assignees from their international offices and then send them to other regions.

For example, a multi-national bank will spot promising assignees from India, train them, and then send them on a two-year contract to Northern California. And then, after that stint is over, instead of repatriating them back to India, the bank can train them again and prepare them, this time to penetrate the market in Eastern Europe, for example.

That shift in the business model does have a significant impact on the global mobility manager. He will now find himself not just spotting and recruiting international talent, but keeping tabs on them, monitoring their professional growth, and then recommending them to the next hot spots after their current assignment ends. It also means that the global mobility manager would be a perpetual student — of global affairs, international economics, the changing business landscape —  immersing themselves in these topics in order to make a good and suitable match between the evolving batches of assignees and their next frontiers to conquer.

Deloitte also notes that global mobility managers are increasingly being valued for the role they play in the company’s overall strategic decisions. Executives and senior management no longer see them as talent providers, but as “consultants” who should be more than qualified to advise them about important matters like security issues in Europe, the booming talent hubs in Asia, or the growth of startups in the United States. More than 74 percent of these companies in the U.S. are beginning to expand the role of the global mobility managers, seeing them as crucial to global expansion and creating a near-inexhaustible supply of talent.

Should then global mobility managers rebrand themselves? While the nearest change in title is “global mobility leader,” perhaps the issue is not so much as rebranding themselves but continually redefining how global mobility management itself is evolving in the overall scheme of things.

The end of the road is far from near, and one can only expect the roles, functions, and leadership scope to even scale up. What is important is that global mobility managers are becoming more important to the decision-makers. They should recognize that shift and perform superlatively. And then, if still needed, can rebranding be considered.