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Discussing Shaking up the Global Mobility Industry at the ERC Conference

I recently attended the ERC Conference in Atlanta, where I met with Melissa Seitz Medford, Consulting Services Manager at TRC Global Mobility. Melissa is passionate about her role at TRC, which she describes as being a company with plenty of young thought leaders who have a lot to offer their clients. 

 

Over breakfast, we discussed the conference and the Global Mobility industry and it was clear that she truly believes in empowering and supporting the next generation of leaders and this is evident in her answers. 

 

Tell us about your Global Mobility career

I have worked in Global Mobility for 21 years and I’ve held various roles which have all helped to develop the knowledge base that I have today. I started out as a Counsellor, handling both domestic and international moves, and I believe that having had that experience early on in my career was critical and it has influenced all of the other roles that I’ve held since then.  I’ve also been very lucky to have been able to see both sides of the coin by working in both corporate HR and with third-party providers. It truly helps your perspective when you understand the drivers on both sides.  

 

What has changed in the industry over the past few years?  

In my earlier career, the industry was more collegial. Relocation Management Companies had long-term relationships with clients, and client contacts were often full-time mobility professionals. Recessions, downsizing and retirements have made dedicated mobility professionals much rarer. Today you’re more often working with an HR generalist with an overflowing plate of responsibilities. In one way, they rely on you more, because they are not mobility experts. On the other hand, mobility is often a small part of their responsibilities, so you are competing for mindshare with many other functions. 

 

On the RMC side, the consolidation in the industry has been dramatic. Companies that were once industry fixtures have either been absorbed or gone out of business altogether. Relationships are more fragile since many companies are required to put mobility services out to bid every 2-3 years, even when the relationship is successful. So it’s more important than ever to bring every bit of value to the client that you can.

 

What are your current thoughts on the industry?  

We’re entering a very exciting time in the industry. Currently management roles are dominated by the Baby Boom generation. Because of this, every day seems to bring more retirements and we’re about to see a pretty substantial “changing of the guard”. Worldwide, ERC has been actively trying to bring Millennials into our industry, and we’re already seeing flashes of the creativity and new life this will bring, from increased use of technology to new models for counselling and global assignments.  

 

What are the challenges in the industry?  

One is complacency. Some industry veterans have a difficult time with change and continue to try to apply the same models to rapidly changing circumstances. This is not a recipe for success. Another is attracting the next generation of talent to the mobility industry. A third is pricing pressure, which affects clients and suppliers in different ways. Clients must marshal limited mobility budgets carefully. RMCs face an extremely competitive environment, which limits revenue needed to support quality staff and technology. Other third-parties are squeezed into this process as well.   

 

Where do you see the industry is heading and have you noticed any emerging trends?  

The “changing of the guard” will bring fresh perspectives and likely major changes that we really can’t predict right now. Most will be focused on making mobility faster, better and cheaper—in one way or another.

 

Why did you attend the ERC conference?  

I was very interested in hearing new ideas from the young generation of thought leaders. It inspired me.

 

Tell us about your thoughts on this year’s conference and what interested you

It’s always energizing spending a few days among so many industry professionals with different experiences and perspectives. After 20+ years, you sometimes feel like you’ve heard and seen it all…and then you find out you haven’t.

 

Did you learn anything new that you will be putting into practice? 

I’ve been following very closely the re-positioning of mobility policies from a strong focus on cost containment to increasing policy competitiveness in order to recruit and retain talent. It was very interesting to hear from corporate mobility managers how their mind-set has had to change over the last few years and how we, as RMCs, need to be able to assist our clients in finding the balance between cost containment and attracting talent.  

 

What advice would you give to someone considering a career in Global Mobility? 

On the corporate side, look for a growing company that understands the value of mobility and doesn’t just view it as a cost-center to be chopped. On the RMC side, look for a dynamic company that is flexible and open to new approaches, where you can grow and develop.


It was really great to have the opportunity to sit down with a seasoned industry professional such as Melissa. Her thoughts in regards to what is currently taking place within the industry seem to reaffirm what we here at Elliott Scott Mobility have been noticing as well. 

 

I also had the privilege of having conversations with a number of other thought leaders within the industry at this years’ ERC conference in Atlanta and I definitely noticed a recurring theme. There seems to be a lot of discussion around new blood within the industry and how this is going to completely alter the way in which the industry conducts business. 

 

While each organization will need to continue to hold onto the core values and principles that once made them successful, they will also need to truly understand how the new generation interacts within the relocation landscape and how this will influence the services that they provide to their clients and customers. 

 

If you would like to further discuss the Global Mobility industry with me, please get in touch at dbh@elliottscotthr.com  

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