The global transplant and transit of talent – an insider’s view

“One of the key trends that we’ve witnessed over the past few years is the growth of roles, and the desire for candidates, with experience that extends outside of domestic markets. There’s never been greater demand for multi-layered, multi-territory experience from clients of the Lighthouse. Whether that’s a global chief revenue officer or a multi-region client lead, the attributes possessed by those leading regional or global operations are precious and highly prized,” writes Katalin Thomann, Relationship Director at The Lighthouse Company.

Having spent the best part of a decade relocating individuals and families in international assignment roles, I’ve witnessed first-hand how transplanting your best talent into new markets can be as beneficial and invigorating for the individual as it is for the business. However, in order to make the move as successful as possible for both parties, there are a number of key factors that must be considered.

“Do you have cabin or hold baggage?”

Firstly, we’re living in a world where the top calibre of candidates can be whisked off, often within very tight timescales, to far-flung places to help a business thrive and to accelerate the skills of local talent. At this point it is critical to ensure that the individual is fit for the change that they are about to experience.

While the right levels of experience and excitement for this new challenge are often obvious to spot, it’s equally important to probe the cultural fit and personal circumstances that could have an adverse impact on new leaders quickly, safely and happily embedding themselves in their new post.

Follow the on-boarding and security procedures

Secondly, the corporate duty doesn’t end when the individual’s last box is packed into a shipping container and the family are safely belted up on a transatlantic flight. With increased levels of global mobility, the organisation will have to take even more responsibility for both logistical and emotional stability. Finding the right home, building new friendship networks, beating language and cultural barriers become just as vital for the individual and company, as the integration into the role itself.

Failure to do so can come at huge cost. According to Brookfield Global Relocation Services, companies will often invest between two and three times the ex-pat’s base salary in an overseas move. We all know that global moves have an opportunity and financial upside for the individual – yet we shouldn’t forget that the opportunity and financial cost for the organisation can be even greater.

 Completing the round trip

Finally, one of the most overlooked areas arises when it’s time for the talent to return home. As businesses have become more agile and adopted the pace and mentality of start-ups, expats may only find themselves on placement for no more than a year or two.

Quite often we find these individuals returning to their homeland are placed straight back in to the role that they left from, with minimal thought placed on the additional skills, experience and expertise that they have accumulated. Yet this individual will inevitably come back a different person, be that with a more global outlook or a more acute view of what they want from their life, both personally and professionally.

Therefore, it shouldn’t surprise that recent research has shown that 48% of repatriates leave their company within two years of returning home – most likely to join a company that places greater value on their newly acquired multi-cultural knowledge.

Deliver a First Class experience

In many ways, the world of global moves is very similar to how the Lighthouse manages the placement of leadership talent. Just as relationships should be managed, enhanced and grow beyond an employment contract, the organisation’s duty should not simply end when the ‘contract is complete’ and the individual is back on home soil.

As a sponsoring organisation, never forget that the payback for your investment will come in the many years following, as well as during, an international placement.