Global Mobility Q&A with Lisa Wood
Lisa is a seasoned Global Mobility professional with 25+ years of comprehensive domestic and global services experience. She is a very well-respected and accomplished leader in the Global Mobility industry with expertise in building out and growing leading Relocation Management Companies.
One of Lisa’s most notable accomplishments was responsibility for transforming Long & Foster Relocation Management Solutions into a full service Global Relocation company while successfully rolling out the organization’s new brand and identity. She is now in the Global Mobility/Relocation market looking for new opportunities that will allow her to utilize her vast industry experience.
I wanted to interview Lisa, because she has a wealth of knowledge and built out a Relocation Management Company from scratch. She has also been involved in almost every capacity within an RMC for many years so she has experienced and seen the industry evolve from a very unique perspective over the years.
1. Can you share your career trajectory with us?
Many wonderful opportunities have presented themselves over the last 25+ years. After working at one of the top 3 relocation management companies, I was recruited to help transform a real estate broker’s corporate referral program into a Relocation Management company. Much of my learning and development stems from building a company from the ground up. We methodically transitioned service delivery from a regional provider to a global presence. This education and practice covered just about every element in a Relocation Management company.
I look forward to the next stage in my career and contributing this comprehensive hands-on experience to a vibrant forward-thinking organization. The way of doing business is rapidly changing, I want to extend my leadership skills and engage mobility organizations and leaders in open and frank conversations about the future of our industry. There are new methods, new thinking, new technology; all of which we need to balance with the fundamentals of providing excellent service.
2. What have been some key career highlights and challenges?
Welcoming challenges is critical on the path toward success. If you don’t embrace challenges you are stuck with the status quo. I am not satisfied with that. Building a company from the ground up has certainly been both a career highlight and a challenge. While requiring much time and effort, the rewards have been amazing.
One highlight was the creation and implementation of a proprietary workflow system. Balancing the needs of different business streams within the budget and timeline restraints was an incredible endeavor. Working with both in-house and off-shore technology talent was in itself an initial challenge, one solved by focusing on ‘translating’ the business needs and technical jargon. The result was a comprehensive scalable program that satisfied the workflow needs of multiple company divisions.
A different kind of highlight; I was involved in three ownership transitions. Each ownership change brought its own unique challenges. My proudest achievement during each of these transitions was that the client and transferee experience was seamless; our operations and team members stayed on task providing a consistent high level of service.
3. What do you enjoy most about working in Global Mobility?
Without a doubt- the people. In this smaller-sized industry, you meet and work with many diverse professionals all over the globe. Even though the business cards change, you continue to cross paths with the same colleagues over and over again. It makes industry conferences feel more like a homecoming rather than a business trip.
At the most recent Global Workforce Symposium, I met someone who was new to the industry. He asked for advice on how to develop his new career. My response was, “Talk with other professionals, others new to Global Mobility, veterans. Talk with folks representing as many different market segments as possible. Talk with colleagues in your region, in your country and across the world. Nurture those relationships and follow up with the connections you make.” People in Global Mobility truly want to help each other. In the process, you will build professional relationships that last a lifetime.
4. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing Global Mobility in the future?
Relocation has taken a turn toward commoditization. It seems like the attention of many clients and providers has been diverted from delivering and receiving excellent service, to buying and selling a packaged product. By focusing on talent management and development, differentiation will return.
And then there is pricing. Pricing shifted from clients paying service fees to end providers paying referral fees. This is time-consuming for all parties to manage. Since the monies are all the same in the end, can we walk away from gouging providers and get back to a simple fee schedule? Then we can refocus our provider partnerships and efforts on joint service delivery and business growth.
5. What Global Mobility trends are you excited about?
While keeping up with technology can be overwhelming at times, there are new developments that could have a profound impact on the way we do things every day. The question is how to harness advancing technology to create a better service without adding cost to clients.
Perhaps there could be self-service ‘crating and freighting’ of personal belongings. Driverless cars are also on the horizon; how might that streamline the transportation of household goods? Camera/video drones are on their way to becoming commonplace, as is smart home technology. How can use this to accelerate or improve real estate practices, inspections and appraisals?
What does a relocation program really cost? Companies are starting to incorporate analytics to measure the costs of employee productivity during a transfer. By combining the cost for relocation benefits and services with the company’s expenditure for hiring and integration, you can then truly evaluate the ROI of a relocation program. From there, decisions can be made to adjust benefits to further maximize the relocation spend.
6. What would be your career advice for professionals working in Global Mobility?
Talk with relocation professionals both inside and outside your company. Jump in and get involved in your local Worldwide ERC chapters. Read industry periodicals, discuss and test ideas. There are so many different directions one can take; property evaluations, rental and sales transactions, represent the client or the Relocation Management company, household goods, temporary housing, maybe even try a hand at global compensation. Whatever it is, don’t be afraid to try on a few different hats. Be engaged and participate!
Daniel Herskowitz is based in our New York office and specializes in Global Mobility recruitment. If you would like to discuss your Global Mobility career with him, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org