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Winter 2011

The official newsletter for the European Relocation Association

HAVE YOU GOT GLOBAL VISION?

The work of the Global Expatriates Observatory

The world is changing – but have we noticed? - See page 6

Also inside

INSIDE:

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Two prestigious awards for relocation company

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Belgium: outshining other countries?


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NEWS

Jobs at risk as Dutch government creates non-profit agencies RELOCATION management professionals based in The Netherlands are being seriously affected by a government-backed initiative which is stifling commercial opportunity. Government-run agencies provide more and more of the classic relocation and immigration services to the international community, free of charge. Whatever the agencies do not provide themselves is dealt with by volunteer clubs they have affiliated with. “The Dutch relocation industry is confronted with competition from within,” says Isamar van Hilten of the Partners In Relocation Group. “Meaning we, the professional relocation companies (members of EURA) operating in the Netherlands, are – as tax payers – funding cosmopolitan Expat Centres in major cities in our country.” In a strategy unique in Europe, the Expat Centres are providing free of charge immigration services, house hunting advice, tax information for international professionals, schooling, 30 per cent tax ruling, Town Hall registration, exchange drivers licenses and other settling-in activities. The government has now turned its

attention to investigating whether the Dutch health care and insurance industry could become less complicated for their expat clients.

“Confronted by competition from within” - Isamar van Hilten Dutch relocation providers, banks, removal companies, schools and other organisations can leave their promotional materials at the centres – but only once they have become an

official sponsor and paid a substantial fee. The level of these fees varies between each city’s Expat Centre. ARPN, the Association of Relocation Professionals in the Netherlands (founded in 2006) services 80 per cent of the Dutch Expatriate market and counts many major companies among its members, including Cartus, Personal Relocation, Settle Service, GRS, Paragon, T&A, Nova and Partners in Relocation. ARPN has been in frequent contact with the government department responsible, stating that this policy is causing job losses in the relocation industry within The Netherlands. “We wonder how other countries view a new player like this in the industry?” adds Isamar. • If you have any views or experiences to share on this important development, which could have far-reaching implications for the global mobility industry, please contact the Editor, Dominic Tidey: dominic@ eura-relocation.com. We will publish a round-up of comments in a future issue and endeavour to obtain a response from the Dutch government.

Immigration ‘fast tracks’ for Sweden and Holland THE SWEDISH Migration Board has started a project regarding speedy handling of work permit applications for non EU citizens. This is a one year test project that the Migration Board started in October 2011. Kristina Ekestorm, one of the immigration experts at Nordic Relocation Group, says her company is honored to be one of those chosen to participate in the project. “The project enables Nordic Relocation Group to process new work permit applications within two weeks instead of the

Call for entries THE 2012 Re:locate awards – which recognise the contribution of relocation in industry, rewards those who make a difference in this field and inspire others to follow in their footsteps – have been announced by Re:locate magazine. As well as recognising those in HR roles, the awards pay tribute to the expertise of the wealth of service providers, from relocation management companies to financial and property professionals. Closing date for entries is 17 February 2012. www.relocatemagazine.com/ relocate-awards-2011-2012-home

normal processing time of four months,” she explains. Not all types of work permit applications can use the ‘fast track’ system. Applications must apply to non EU citizens and be first time applications only. The part in the work permit application called ‘Opinion from relevant union’ must be signed and approved without any reservations. All other applications are not applicable for ‘fast track’ and will take the standard four months. Nordic Relocation Group’s wish is to have the Migration Board also allow extensions of the work permit to be processed in a similar ‘fast track’ manner. “It still takes approximately four months to process extensions,” says Kristina. “If you have applied for an extension you can stay in the country awaiting the decision even if your permit has terminated. If you are from a country whose citizens need a visit visa to Sweden and your present work/residence permit terminated while waiting for the new one, you might find yourself in an awkward situation. “Any trip that takes you outside of Sweden will keep you there until you have been granted either a visit visa or a renewed work/residence permit.” Meanwhile, the Dutch government intends

to implement a new migration policy. The country’s current law relating to highly skilled migrants makes it possible for companies that hold a covenant with the Dutch immigration service (IND) to bring non EU people with higher salaries to the Netherlands. Together with the application form, all kinds of proof has to be submitted to the IND. The main point of the new policy is that migration to the Netherlands should become easier –‘Yes, if’ instead of ‘no, unless’. According to Settle Service, companies will have to be recognised sponsors for the assignees. The sponsor will be responsible for keeping the underlying documents that prove that an assignee in the Netherlands works here on a legal basis. “The only document that will have to be submitted to the IND is a so-called sponsor declaration, in which the salary and the term of the contract is stated,” says Judith van Kampen of Settle Service. “IND will check this through spot checks and there will be substantial fines in case of abuse of the law. The eventual consequence of abuse is suspension or expulsion for five years.” Judith adds: “Although the intentions are good, the project was postponed a number of times and it is still unknown when the new policy will be in place.”

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NEWS The EuRApean is published by impact!, Media House, 55 Old Road, Leighton Buzzard, LU7 2RB UK. T: +44 (0)1525 370013 www.impact-now.co.uk © European Relocation Association 2011 Website: www.eura-relocation.com Editor: Dominic Tidey dominic@eura-relocation.com Advertising enquiries: Matt Milton matt@impact-now.co.uk The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of EuRA or its agents, who shall not be responsible for any loss or damage suffered as a result of any statement in or omission from these articles or advertisements.

ASIAN CHARM: Interior of a Citadines serviced home in Xi’an.

Hollants happy! THE ASCOTT Limited (Ascott) has received top honours at the Business Traveller UK Awards 2011 for The Best Serviced Apartment Company category. Ascott The Residence took first place for the fifth consecutive year and the company’s Citadines Apart’Hotel was placed second. The awards, presented by BBC Radio 4 journalist and TV presenter John Humphrys, were accepted on behalf of Ascott by Rebecca Hollants van Loocke, the company’s regional general manager for the UK. “These awards are very important to us as they are widely recognised as the business travel industry’s benchmark for excellence, not least because they are voted for by Business Traveller readers,” said Hollants. Meanwhile, Ascott has opened its third Citadines serviced residence in Xi’an strengthening the company’s leading role as the largest international serviced residence owner-operator in Xi’an and in China. Currently Ascott operates 7,000+ apartment units in 38 properties across 16 cities throughout China including Citadines Central Xi’an (162 units) and Citadines Gaoxin Xi’an (251 units). In addition, Somerset Gaoxin Xi’an (233 units) will open in 2013.

TRAVEL COMPANIONS: Hollants van Loocke with BBC Radio 4 and mastermind host, John Humphrys.

Passport to international education A RECENT survey among UK, US and European university admissions officers highlights that the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is more highly regarded than each region’s ‘native’ examination system. These are interesting findings for relocation professionals to consider when advising relocating families about their education options. With such a wide range of post-16 qualifications available across the globe, the sixth annual survey of university admissions officers, commissioned by ACS International Schools, highlights the role of the IB Diploma in preparing students for success at university and life beyond. Admissions personnel were asked to rate the strength of nine different attributes – developing an open mind, business skills such as team work or presenting, ability to manage independent inquiry, good self management skills, good communication skills, able to take risks, creativity, ability to cope under pressure and detailed subject knowledge – for both the IB Diploma and the ‘native’ examination system in their country. In the US and Europe, the IB Diploma was ranked more highly in all nine categories, while in the UK it outperformed A-levels in every category except developing detailed subject knowledge. The IB Diploma consistently scored highly for its ability to develop independent inquiry skills in students, universally ranked as the number one determinant of academic success at university. “Countries around the world are reviewing their education systems to make sure young people get the education they need for life and work in an unpredictable global environment,” said Jeremy Lewis, Head of School at ACS Egham International School. “It is timely to review and compare attitudes towards the pre-university qualifications across these three regions. More young people are looking to expand their educational and work horizons and they and their parents need to have confidence in the qualifications they’re gaining and their currency / standing across the world. “ACS International Schools has over 30 years’ experience in delivering the IB Diploma, so we welcome the news that the qualification is so highly thought of by university admissions officers from the UK, US and Europe.”

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NEWS

Double top accolades for The County Homesearch STAFF from the County Homesearch Company described themselves as “surprised and delighted’ when they won the highly coveted Cartus Masters Cup at the Cartus award ceremony in Denver – the first non-American company to have done so. The Cartus Masters Cup, for which any one of their thousands of service providers throughout the world are eligible, is awarded to the ‘organisation that not only provides exemplary customer service, but also works with Cartus in a genuine partnership to help them meet the challenges of the ever changing market in relocation.’ “Achieving the accreditation to become a supplier of Cartus has been hard enough, so to win this award is one of the most significant moments in our company’s history,” says a very happy Jonathan Haward, founder and Chairman of The County Homesearch Company. “Since being awarded the ISO certification over a decade ago we have been working hard with our internal training at raising the bar of our service delivery. We were the first multi-office company to embark on and be awarded the EuRA Quality Seal certification and this is the most fantastic recognition for the effort that all our team have made.” Just as the Masters Cup was taking pride of position in The County Homesearch Company’s Board Room, news came through that more celebrations were due as at the

Gala Dinner for the EMMA award ceremony in London, The County Homesearch Company scooped the European Destination Service Provider of the Year Award. Andrew Scott, Managing Director of The County Homesearch Company, was thrilled: “We have clearly done something right – the judges of this competition include senior personnel from HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Unilever, Mars, Cisco Systems, Tesco and Kings College to name but a few. “To have this recognition too is extremely gratifying. Indeed, this is the first time any organisation has won both the EMMA and the Cartus Cup, let alone in the same year!”

DOUBLE CELEBRANTS: Jonathan Haward (Chairman), Mary Pappin (Cartus Account Manager) and Andrew Scott (Managing Director) with the Masters Cup.

EuRA’s online presence is boosted THE NEW interactive EuRA website is now fully functioning. Response from members has been overwhelmingly positive “and EuRA is very grateful for your kind words,” says CEO, Tad Zurlinden. “The new system allows members to have complete control over their entry and expands the details members can post about themselves.” EuRA urges all its members to take the opportunity to use these spaces – there is no charge and you can upload all of your printed brochures, service specifications, even a weekly or monthly news update. Version 2 of the site will increase this capability even further with a LinkedIn style notification system. Many member renewals will automatically be sent by the system in January. If members have not added their VAT number to their web entry as well as the number of employees, please do so as soon as possible as this will ensure the accuracy of renewal invoices. “Bookings are now all taken online with

credit card payments being processed through Paypal,” says Tad. “You do not need to start a Paypal account to pay by credit card. Please call the office if you have any questions or concerns when booking an event. The even bigger, brighter, faster and smarter Version 2 will go live next year.”

Positives in all the uncertainty EuRA’s CEO, Tad Zurlinden and I participated in the Canadian Employee Relocation Council annual conference in Calgary at the end of September, where many interested people stopped by the EuRA booth. Keynote speakers, Darrell Bricker and John Wright of IPSOS Research delivered an outstanding presentation on Canada’s Changing Face and Employee Relocation. EuRA hosted its fifth annual party in conjunction with the WERC conference in Denver, this year generously sponsored by Graebel Relocation Services Worldwide, Inc. It was a great success (see page 19). We thank all of our guests and especially the team at WERC for their support. I am a representative on the board of the EARP (European Academy of Relocation Professionals). The four EARP partners are looking at ways of strengthening the position of relocation providers in terms of EU recognition and definition. This will include mandatory minimum training. The EuRA Quality Seal was a big step forward. Next is continuing development of our training programmes. I am delighted that so many people signed up for the EuRA Oxford Brookes training in the new year – a fantastic initiative. I am putting staff from across my company through the programme because it gives so much added value when I present to clients and increased service levels for my existing clients. I’m sure I’m not the only one wondering about the financial instability in the world and how we may be affected. I’ve decided to make sure we continue to deliver the best relocation service possible and to have a Plan B in place. The holiday season is quickly approaching and Christmas trees are popping up all over the place. Around now, the Swedes light Advent candles, making our homes very cosy in the soft glow. I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a very good ending of 2011 and hope you will have time to recharge your batteries during the holiday season together with loved ones. ÅSE Löfgren Gunsten EuRA President

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CHANGE

OUR WORLD HAS CHANGED – but did we see it happen?

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President of NOVA Relocation Holding and past President of EuRA, Walter Vermeeren, gives some useful tips and observations and issues a wake up call to those who do not realise just how quickly corporate relocations are changing across Europe.

HE RELOCATION industry has changed constantly over the last 20 years, but the speed and nature of those changes are so important that a wake call is needed. Destination service providers (DSPs) and other relocation service professionals have to use all their creativity and entrepreneurship to make sure they are still in profitable business the coming years, while ensuring that the increasing demands of its customers are met. Three simple facts will illustrate what is happening. 1. Golden expatriate packages are over No surprise to most of us, but ‘red carpet’ full relocation packages are the exception now. The current economic crisis, which is far from over yet, has forced an even more dramatic change to the policies and expatriate packages. A reduced service package and lower allowances of all kinds, linked with higher demands for quality, have reduced the income and profit streams of the profession. Waiting for the golden times to come back is like waiting for Godot! 2. Expatriate types have changed drastically What started in the late Nineties is now an ongoing change: short term expats, commuters, local international new hires, local-to-local transferees, singles instead of families and project-based

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transferees. On top of that, the econimic crisis has drastically reduced the number of transferees. Result: a direct impact on revenue and profit. It would be foolish to think that he old days will come back! 3. Partners become competitors Removals companies, some relocation management companies, some serviced apartment providers and many others face the same challenges at a different level. Many have started to broaden their services offering, including ‘in house’ destination services or property management. Many DSPs do not know how to compete with these former partners. I predict this trend will increase in the years to come. What can we do about this to keep DSPs in profitable business? In Benelux, a number of EuRA member companies, including NOVA Relocation, have set steps in the right direction. Our strategy is very simple: increase revenue, develop new partnerships, lower costs, reduce cash flow problems and try to keep clients loyal. Develop new income streams: No taboos in our business any more, no naïve hope for a bright and easy future. We have to be creative while being open to our clients and markets. Why not set up adjacent services to our relocation offering, such as insurance, real estate or fleet


CHANGE Develop new partnerships: If partners became competitors, one needs to develop new partnerships. Referral fees are, in most cases, a cost effective way of generating new revenue with partners who can refer business to you as well. If our clients are well informed about the advantages they can get out of the new partnership, they will all happily accept this approach. Approach new target groups: Have you looked at new markets to offer the same or similar services? Local companies may need services close to our core offering. What about individual expatriates and ‘do-it-yourself’ expatriates with a different need? Do fully localized expatriates changes jobs locally? Watch for expatriates or companies in a new geographical area. Join forces: Working together with direct or indirect competitors can bring benefits to all. Cost levels can be reduced through back office synergies, joint venture marketing and sales. Resources can be utilised more optimally, resulting in a broader service offering. Joining forces can have many faces, including joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions or informal cooperation; as long as trust

levels are well documented, they can all work. Review costs, item by item: This is just common sense, but so often forgotten or de-prioritised. Cross charge all costs to your client: DSP clients know that a relocation service delivery creates additional costs that are not always known in detail up-front: lunches with transferees, express delivery of documents, high parking costs, overtime on weekends are just four examples. Ensure these costs are charged to clients. This may mean re-educating some contacts.

Lack of cash kills businesses. Chase your money constantly and don’t work for bad or slow payers: a ‘prestige’ company name on your reference list with constantly overdue invoices can cost a fortune and will cause unnecessary stressful meetings. No money, no honey!

management? If it also benefits our clients in a transparent way, it will be a win-win for all parties involved.

Increase productivity: Invest in good systems, tools and processes and a measurable return in quality and cost control is straightforward. The EuRA Quality Seal is a good start. This can be followed by full ISO process descriptions. Invest in training for all staff, with a focus on effectiveness and efficiency; EARP can certainly help here. Reduce cash flow problems: Lack of cash kills businesses. Chase your money constantly and don’t work for bad or slow payers: a ‘prestige’ company name on your reference list with constantly overdue invoices can cost a fortune and will cause unnecessary stressful meetings. No money, no honey! Keep clients loyal: It is easier to keep a client than to win a new one. Put effort into client relationships with added value. Clients will understand that you want to keep the link with them close, as long as they see a benefit too. Practical information and views on trends in the market are always very much appreciated by your customers. Walter Vermeeren is President of NOVA Relocation Holding and a past President of EuRA. He is also a founder member of ABRA, the Association of Belgian Relocation Agents.

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NEWS

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OBSERVATORY

GLOBAL VISION

Two years ago, Berlitz Consulting brought together a group of prestigious partners to begin a ground breaking research study with the aim of promoting a better understanding of the expat population. EuRA is delighted to have been part of this group - the Global Expatriates Observatory - whose aim is to publish research which will define and shape international relocation practice for the coming decades. Dominic Tidey reports.

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Today most organizations expand their businesses beyond borders. But this growth poses an important challenge for the individuals who lead this globalization.

s the daughter of an expat, wife of an expat, mother of expat children and an expat herself, few people could be better qualified to lead a study into globalisation expertise than Patricia Glasel, Director of Berlitz Consulting. The creative leader of this project launched it as a result of her own experiences and beliefs. Now the Global Expatriate Observatory has turned two years old, Patricia reflects on the progress made so far by the joint venture partners, Berlitz and EuRA. “Today most organizations expand their businesses beyond borders,” Patricia says. “But this growth poses an important challenge for the individuals who lead this globalization. In order to develop their activities, those organizations need to support the business and select managers and leaders with a global vision. “With this in mind, as a global leadership training company we have

felt the need to understand deeply who are those individuals who succeed internationally, why they have chosen this exposure, what challenges do they face, what are the main reasons for failures and success and how we can support and develop their abilities to perform in a multicultural environment. “The only way to learn more about the international managers was to interview them and knowing how much the spouse and the family play a major role in that process they have also been part of the survey. “We are very proud to have EURA as a partner of this ongoing project where the survey will be released every year helping us to better understand the international managers.” The project is structured in three distinct phases. The first study that took place in 2009 was designed to uncover the demographics and attitudes of internationally mobile managers and

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OBSERVATORY Berlitz Observatory results. “The presentation in Paris on the 24th of May this year really was the confirmation that Expats are not only our ‘passion’ but also the most important wealth of our industry. The research data gives the team clear picture of the make up of the corporate globally mobile population and will, for the first time, provide them with independently verified statistics to compare against future research. “Through these comparisons we will be able to accurately measure changes and trends amongst the expat population,” adds Nathalie. “This will enable EuRA to assist members in the future planning and budgeting of their businesses. We believe this research is critical, not only for assessing the needs of our end clients, but also for the future evolution of our industry.” executives who were anticipating an expatriation in the near future. The focus of this study was to discover: • The typical profile of the group • How expatriates rate their experience of an overseas assignment • What their expectations were of their upcoming assignment • The views of their partners about the upcoming expatriation The 2010 study was directed at the expats’ attitudes to the assignment once it was well underway, and at the end of the assignment as the expats are repatriated or re-assigned. Nathalie Bourdin Gazal, former EuRA Council Member and director of Expat Relocation France is project managing EuRA’s part of the study and feels strongly that the results can help to inform the professional practice of our industry; “It is a unique & fantastic honor to represent EuRA as one of the five official partners in this project (BVA, Magellan, l’Expansion & Insead),” Nathalie explains. “We shared several brainstorming sessions before the official launch of the 2010

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An Analysis of the 2009 Results

The 2009 study began to build a clear picture of the current demographic of the corporate globally mobile population. Nearly three quarters of the expats surveyed were male and under 40 years old. This group are educated to a high standard, with 79 per cent of respondents educated to degree or masters level and 71 per cent fluent in English as a second language. These figures may be what we would be expected, but to know from empirical evidence so that we can track changes within this population is important to EuRA members. In terms of relationship status within this group, 63 per cent are married or living with their partner and 43 per cent have children. However, when that figure is broken down between male and female expats, a different result emerges. Half of male corporate assignees have children compared to just 15 per cent of female employees transferred overseas. This emphasises how much childcare is still regarded as a female role in many societies. Interestingly, 23 per cent of respondents with children choose not to take them on assignment and this is mainly in the group aged over 45. This can logically be attributed to the presumed complexity of educational placements for the children of this age group who would tend to be in mid to late teens and therefore heavily entrenched in the home country’s exam system. Expats may already have some experience of, or ties to, another culture. Some 38 per cent of respondents aged 20-30 had studied abroad and 26 per cent were with a partner whose family lived in a different country. It is therefore obvious that individuals with such a background are likely to be highly sought after for international assignments. One of the major factors influencing how quickly and successfully expats adjust to their new lives is how much they view the upcoming assignment as a positive and rewarding experience. In the 2009 study, expatriation is viewed as a rewarding personal experience as well as an opportunity to learn another language – over 75 per cent of respondents felt this way. The major challenges that expats thought would be the hardest to overcome were firstly, language (46 per cent) and then the cultural differences they would face in their host destination (44 per cent). This figure goes up to 50 per cent for expats with children. Yet interestingly, once the assignment is over and the process of reflection is underway, these figures rise dramatically as we will see in the 2010 data. Another interesting result was that the challenge faced by the language issue goes up from 46 per cent to 72 per cent for expats whose first language is English. Native English speakers tend to have far less interaction or education in other languages. The views of partners were looked at in a specific area of the research and of the respondents, half intended


OBSERVATORY

OBSERVERS: EuRA CEO, Tad Zurlinden with Patricia Glasel, Director of Berlitz Consulting and Nathalie Gazal, Director of Expat Relocation France at the lunch of the 2010 white paper.

An experience met with enthusiasm that is simultaneously a chance to advance professionally and an opportunity not to be missed.

Patricia Glasel

to continue to work once in the host country, but this rises to 79 per cent for partners who had language skills applicable to their new home. Some 74 per cent intended to travel within the new region and 62 per cent to learning a new language. Only 19 per cent intended to have more children while in the host location. The 2009 research on the attitudes of expats to an upcoming assignment shows that it is seen most strongly as a personal and family experience over and above the opportunities for professional growth and achievement.

An Analysis of the 2010 Results

The study was expanded in 2010 to include profiles and opinions of expats who were currently on assignment and those who were back from the experience and focussed on gaining insight into the following areas:

• What is the typical profile for the different populations involved? • How do they view and experience their expatriation? • How have they assessed their time overseas and how did they experience their return? Some 70 per cent of identified expatriates on assignment were male and under 40. Educationally, this group is well above national averages with 99 per cent having a minimum educational level equivalent to a high school diploma, compared to 57 per cent in national populations. The experience itself was seen as almost universally positive. Patricia Glasel summarised the expatriation experience as “an experience met with enthusiasm that is simultaneously a chance to advance professionally and an opportunity not to be missed”. Asian respondents however, did not equate expatriation with a positive personal experience, but instead regarded it as a duty related to professional activity (62 per cent) as opposed to other nationalities of whom only an average of 17 per cent rated the experience as primarily professional. There was also a stark difference for Asian expats in how enthusiastic they felt prior to assignment and this is mainly because the work culture means that the assignment can often be involuntary. One in four respondents reported a significant difficulty in adjusting early in the assignment but this figure rises to one

in three when applied to social integration. This is mainly attributable to a perceived communication difficulty due to language, which is entirely understandable, and this issue tends to fade as the assignment progresses. Statistically the keys to a successful expatriation according to the research were twofold – understanding the country’s culture (83 per cent) and language confidence (66 per cent). Compared to the 2009 results, pre-assignment data, this shows just how much real experience differs from a perceived experience. Once in the new location, these issues really do become very important. This comes as no surprise to the relocation industry, but that cultural integration is such a key to success underlines the intense importance of intercultural training in advance of departure. Yet as we all know, fewer and fewer resources are given to this critical success factor. On repatriation or re-assignment, the most interesting results concerned how the expats viewed themselves in the light of their experience. Four-fifths said that contact with other cultures led them to question aspects of their own culture and three quarters said it made them reflect and develop a deeper awareness of their home culture. The most significant adjustment problems on return were what we would expect – issues rebuilding social networks and readjusting to the company’s differing management style. Personal rather than professional growth was most often reported with 91 per cent of respondents saying they grew in terms of their cultural knowledge with 89 per cent saying they had learned greater open mindedness. Partners however, showed a higher rate of wishing to return to the home country compared with expats and were less enthusiastic about repeating the opportunity than the expats themselves. This very valuable research shows that much of what we know from our anecdotal experiences working with expats, partners and families is reflected empirically and this makes it such valuable data. You can see when looking at the summaries of the research how useful this information is when going into a client meeting and advising on service levels and relocation packages. On the most basic level, this research further helps to increase our understanding of the expat experience and how it impacts on the individual. • Full reports included in both the 2009 and 2010 white papers are available, free, on the EuRA website. Please get involved in future research! EuRA will be contacting all members prior to the next surveys and urges you to get involved in this extremely valuable project.

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BELGIUM Could it really be that the lack of a functioning government is the reason that Belgium’s economy has been performing so well? It’s a situation that has helped the country’s relocation specialists maintain vigorous levels of performance.

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n recent months the UK and Spanish economies have grown by 0.2%. At the same time, Belgium has grown by 2.2%, putting it near the top of the Eurozone growth league – and all without a properly elected government. Prime Minister Yves Leterme tendered his resignation in April 2010, since when the country has broken the world record for having a caretaker government for the longest period (at the time of going to press, that’s over 500 days). “It’s not that the lack of an intrusive, interfering government has set the forces of enterprise free – instead the political paralysis afflicting Belgium has meant that, unlike most Euro-area governments, it has not embarked on an austerity drive,” says Duncan Weldon in a recent issue of Public Finance magazine. Meanwhile, the Financial Times has reported that because Belgian salaries and pensions are indexed to inflation and has not imposed austerity measures, this has provided a short-term boost to growth. But there are clear warnings that this relatively good fortune will change unless it develops a solid medium to long term plan to stimulate growth and balance the budget. The collapse of the Franco-Belgian owned Dexia Bank in September is an example of this. Belgium recently moved up four places to rank 15th in the World Competitiveness Report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), confirming that the country is officially a popular destination for trade and industry on a global scale. The top three – Switzerland, Singapore and Sweden – remain unchanged and the top 10 is once again dominated by Western European countries.

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The report scored 142 countries on Basic Requirements (institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment and health & primary education), Efficiency Enhancers (higher education & training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness and market size) and Innovation and Sophistication Factors (business sophistication and innovation). “Although Belgium appears to be not quite as labour market efficient as it could be, and our macroeconomic environment could do with a bit of a boost, our little country once again outshines pretty much everyone else for health & primary education, coming in second worldwide”, says a report in the autumn issue of ReLocate, the newsmagazine published by ABRA (the Association of Belgian Relocation Agents). Some 4,100 expat families were polled

by the British HSBC Bank as part of their annual Expat Explorer survey. The parents were asked to rate their new lifestyle in terms of the cost of raising children, the quality of the education system and how easy their children had found it to fit in. Out of the 14 countries where the HSBC had enough respondents for a detailed analysis, Belgium came top of the list with 81% of expats stating that the standard of education was higher than in their home country and 73% sending their offspring to local schools. 68% found that childcare was better. Moreover, it seems that the costs for childcare are much lower here, said Lisa Wood, head of communication at HSBC. This means that good childcare does not necessarily have to be expensive.” In terms of integration and the general welfare of young children, Belgium fared less well, and foreign


NEWS Brussels: heart of the European Union Brussels is the largest city in the whole of Benelux with 1.1 million inhabitants. It is an eclectic city, full of contrasts. The most affluent areas are concentrated along the greenery of the Forest of Soignes the green embassy districts such as Etterbeek and Woluwe-St-Pierre. Choosing a suitable area to live is essential when moving to Brussels. The suburbs offer quiet security, but are away from the convenience of the city centre. David Chicard of Property Hunter explains: “In most cities you need to know which neighbourhoods are good or bad, but in Brussels you need to know the city right down to the individual streets.”

children apparently do not exercise enough. In a second part of the survey, HSBC examined the general quality of life of the expats themselves. Belgium came 13th out of 25 countries. It seems foreigners find it difficult to make Belgian friends and about 50% of the expats also shy away from learning Dutch or French. In comparison with many other Eurozone countries, then, Belgium is in a relatively bouyant phase. But how does this translate into the fortunes of the country’s relocation industry and EuRA’s 22 Belgian members? “A crossroads of several cultures, Belgium has the advantage of a central location within Europe and an extraordinarily well-developed infrastructure,” says Marc van Zuylen of Art of Living S.A. “Her communications network is second to none, offering rapid, efficient transport by air, sea, road and rail. The facilities available in and around Brussels, the capital of Belgium, have already convinced a large number of multinational and international companies to base their European headquarters here, alongside the many European institutions.” EuRA member companies such as

Communicaid are proactive when it comes to added value services for relocating families. “Belgium is the biggest exporter per capita in the EU and welcomes international businesses and corporation into its economic centres,” says Guy Netscher of Communicaid. “Our ‘Living & Working in Belgium’ and ‘Doing Business in Belgium’ cross-cultural programmes are designed to provide the key skills and tools necessary to build strong and positive relationships with Belgian colleagues, clients, and suppliers as well as assisting the employee and his/her family to settle in quickly.” Paragon Relocation recently underscored the company’s commitment to a growing global presence by expanding current operations in the Netherlands to encompass both Belgium and Luxembourg as well. The new Paragon Relocation Benelux office will be led by Geoff Mills, Director of Global Relocation Services. “We are excited about the new possibilities that are now opened to us as we plan for our future expansion throughout Europe. We now have significant presence in the Benelux region and expect to see

SPEAKING OUT: From the top, Marc van Zuylen, Anita Meyer, Carl Arts, Dange Peng and Geoff Mills.

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BELGIUM tremendous growth in this area,” said Liam Brennan, managing director of Paragon Relocation’s Dublin office. Anita Meyer of am&pm relocation highlights a new law introduced in September this year that profoundly changes the procedure of family reunification in Belgium. “For the family of an EU citizen, the criteria for family reunification based on a long standing relationship become more stringent: a relationship of at least two years is required – it was previously one year. “For the family of a third-country citizen, this criteria also now demands a relationship of at least two years, together with proof of sufficient income, proof of sufficient housing and proof of medical coverage for all family members. When in Belgium, under the new legislation, family members subject to visa requirements can no longer request a change of status from a short-term stay (tourist – 90 days) to a long-term stay (family reunification). This means that these family members have to return to their country of origin to apply for the relevant visa at the Belgian diplomatic post abroad. “The new law will not only have repercussions for new applicants but also for foreigners who want to extend their residence in Belgium,” adds Anita. “Local town halls have already notified am&pm of additional documents requested, such as additional proof of income and continued medical coverage, plus proof

MEDIEVAL MOOD: Sunset at Bruges in northern Belgium.

of blank criminal record issued by the commune of current residence in Belgium.” Interior Rent will shortly celebrate 20 years as a relocation services provider in Belgium. Carl Arts of Interior Rent says: “It seems only yesterday when we launched the idea of renting out furniture to expats who are residing in Belgium for a short or longer term. “But a lot has changed in the meantime. Now we cover the complete region from Belgium over The Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg to the north of France and we have three offices. Although the company has grown, our personal service, dedication and enthusiasm have remained.” NOVA Relocation, with its six offices in four countries and in business since 1991, is focusing on China in a very determined way. Mrs Dange Peng, Chinese national living in

Belgian Culture – Key Concepts and Values

Website Design Mobi l e Apps Brochures Newsletters Displays....

by Tim Wagner, Training & Development Specialist, Motability

for relocation professionals! www.impact-now.co.uk tel: 01525 370013 email: info@impact-now.co.uk

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Brussels for five years, heads NOVA’s China office in Belgium and is developing a service offering for Chinese companies relocating with their staff to Europe. The office also supports Chinese investors looking for investment opportunities in Europe. “Deng has carefully reviewed all our relocation products to ensure they were in line with the expectations of customers and relocation management companies looking for real Chinese on the ground support for their transferees,” says Managing Director, Walter Vermeeren. For a small country, Belgium’s position at the heart of the European Union has ensured that, in relocation services terms at least, it punches way above its weight. Despite the recent and continuing uncertainties of the Eurozone itself, Belgium will certainly continue to keep those punches flowing.

Formality – Belgian culture still retains much of its historical traditions and formalities. A strong hierarchy exists and titles and formal greetings are still used. Though they may greet foreigners with a certain level of formality, Belgians will quickly welcome you with generous hospitality. Be sure you respect this formality, particularly in a business environment. Family – As a relatively traditional society, Belgians place a lot of importance on family life. As such a small country, even if a family lives on opposite sides they are still able to get together quickly and frequently. Egalitarianism – While status tends to be determined by your family, level of education, job and age, most Belgians like to think they are of equal status. Gender traditionally played a role determining status, but it is increasingly unacceptable to judge or treat someone differently because of their gender. Class differences are no longer as prevalent; however there exist certain sensitivities between the two regions which can result in tension or feelings of inequality. These are a result of both historical and economic factors, particularly since the Dutch are doing much better economically than the French. Compromise – As a society with a strong emphasis on family life and egalitarianism, Belgians always try to compromise rather than argue or disagree about things. Decision-making in business can therefore be a slow process since many parties will contribute their ideas before a decision is made.


DENVER

COLORADO

communications E

uRA was delighted to welcome over 200 people to EuRA’s reception in Colorado’s capital, Denver. “Our very first US reception was held here five years ago with just 75 people and now the event has become an established part of the WERC Mobility Symposium timetable,” says EuRA’s Dominic Tidey. “As ever we would like to say a big thank you to WERC and this year also to Graebel, who generously sponsored the event. As you can see from the pictures, among those at the reception were global relocation experts from all over the world, representing a massive knowledge base. EuRA is now looking forward to welcoming members and friends to Stockholm 25th to 27th April and Washington DC on Thursday October 4th 2012.

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CHALLENGE

The World Isn Moving talent across borders can be frought with problems, says Cathy Wellings of Communicaid, who argues that a smaller world can also be a more complex one.

W

e have always been led to believe that the world was getting smaller and more homogenous as commercial and technological advances brought us closer and closer together. Although it may be true that we wear the same clothes, use the same phones and even watch the same films are we really, deep down, becoming the same people? Experience suggests that the world is not actually as small as we are led to believe. While we may be able to cross continents and time zones quicker than ever, these far flung countries continue to be challenging and complex to do business in while countries closer to home are equally testing. Organisations and their employees wishing to be successful outside of their home country need to develop their global competence and become true internationalists.

Talent on the move

So what does this mean for organisations relocating their talent around the world? Where previously international moves tended to focus on a narrow pool of target countries, specific job roles and a fixed duration, the modern day international assignee is expected to be a lot more flexible and to adapt to the complex and ever-changing world in which their employers operate. Companies are increasingly venturing into emerging markets, drawn by fast developing economies, large internal markets, competitive workforces and natural resources. In addition, assignments are typically getting shorter but more frequent. Expatriates now have to adapt very quickly to their new environment without the luxury of a honeymoon period during which they can settle themselves and their families into their new surroundings and take the time to adapt to their new working environment. Overseas assignments now also often involve regional rather than purely national responsibility. Many expatriate managers need even greater flexibility than before as they need the awareness, knowledge and skills to be successful across a whole new region rather than one country.

Culture is everything

Successful global organisations have recognised that culture plays a huge part in the success or failure of their international efforts. Cultural sensitivity, or lack of, can have a real impact on performance and profitability. One of the greatest challenges faced by international organisations is developing the global competencies of their staff to ensure that they make the most of opportunities and resources available to them when working across cultures. Fons Trompenaars, a leading cultural researcher, explains current business thinking quite simply: ‘culture is no longer a side dish to organisations’ main business processes’.

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CHALLENGE

n’t Getting Any Simpler… Many large organisations are now focusing on how to become truly global rather than simply a company with a presence in a number of different countries. Country specific knowledge and an understanding of behavioural norms form the cornerstone when preparing expatriates for their new host country. However, what is becoming more important for international assignees is the skill set to succeed and to manage complex and ambiguous situations in an unfamiliar context. Self-awareness and understanding of others combined with practical communication skills and a determined mindset are some of the most valuable tools we can give to employees embarking on a new international assignment. While we can never prepare assignees for every eventuality, providing employees with the right tools and strategies to adapt to each new culture and get the best out of themselves and the teams they work with proves time and time again to be a wise investment.

Developing the skills gap

Global organisations are now also reconsidering who they send on international assignments and how these expatriates are selected. In the past it was simply a case of sending the

employee with the necessary technical skills and knowledge wherever he or she was required. We are now starting to see an increasing number of companies moving towards developing and identifying a global mindset for their international workforce. It is possible to assess and develop many of the skills and attributes deemed necessary for international success as very often when expatriates succeed it is due to their intercultural competence rather than their technical expertise alone. Without the appropriate communication skills, ability to build relationships with colleagues from different backgrounds and openness to alternative thinking or working patterns, this technical expertise may not transfer well across other cultures. Cultural consultancies are most effective when they work in close partnership with their clients designing training solutions appropriate to each unique context and supporting the expatriation process right from the selection process through to development, pre-departure preparation and ongoing support. And of course, the process should begin again when the employee is preparing for repatriation and resuming their career in the home country – but this is a subject for another article!

! M O O B KA

• Cathy Wellings is Culture & Communication Manager for Communicaid. cathy.wellings@communicaid.com +44 (0)203 370 8516

Case Study - Tesco Global Mobility and Communicaid Working in Partnership

Tesco is one of the world’s largest retailers with a presence in 14 markets worldwide and global workforce of nearly 500,000. International growth is a core element of Tesco’s strategy which encourages economies of scale across international markets combined with sharing skills and knowledge globally to increase local success. Philip Clarke, Tesco CEO, personally places a high importance on employees having the right level of cultural understanding and competence for working globally. Tesco’s Global Mobility team manage approximately 140 international moves every year with up to 450 assignees at any

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CHALLENGE one time, which are divided into short term assignments (up to one year) and long term assignments. Tesco is one of the few global organisations that makes pre-departure cultural training mandatory for all expatriates, regardless of assignment duration, level of employee or previous international experience. Communicaid has worked in close partnership with Tesco’s Global Mobility team since 2009 helping to prepare Tesco international assignees to be a success wherever they are posted.

How it works

• Two formats of training are offered: a six hour face-to-face programme for long term assignees and their families and a one hour telephone consultancy for short term assignees • Face-to-face or telephone training is blended with online training tools allowing assignees to prepare for training ahead of time and continue learning after their training sessions maximising their time with an expert consultant • Partners and children are also encouraged to attend and benefit from the training • Assignees have access to ongoing support via online tools and dedicated email support • All training programmes follow a

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consistent format but are personalised to meet the needs and expectations of each individual and their family • Additional support is provided in country on request such as follow on management programmes or family orientation days • Group training programmes have been provided in country for newly formed regional management teams • Training is mandatory pre-departure but when this has not been possible the programme is delivered on arrival in country Each programme is highly personalised to ensure that the training is effective and complements the learning style, previous international experience and specific challenges of each individual assignee. Online tools

provide much of the country specific information allowing the trainer to spend more time building assignees’ cultural awareness and helping them to develop the skill they require for their particular role and market. Communicaid maintains contact with expatriates once they have relocated to ensure that the cultural training has had the necessary impact and to support them with any ongoing challenges. The nature of Tesco’s global business means that it is not usual for employees to pursue a series of overseas assignments as their career develops and some expatriates are now returning for their second or third cultural training programme – and still find it invaluable!


DILEMMA

Well – what would you say?

W

E ARE grateful to Dr Anne Copeland (above), founder and Executive Director of the Interchange Institute and to the ABRA newsletter, Re-Locate, for allowing us to publish this interesting and amusing anecdote regarding the former’s trip to the EuRA Conference in Palma, Majorca earlier this year. It concerns Anne’s following conversation at US immigration control while on her way home: US Customs Official: “What was the purpose of your trip?” Anne:” To attend the European Relocation Association conference in Spain.”

CO: [Blank stare. Long silence. Sceptical look.] “What do they do?” Anne: “They help people move from one country to another.” CO: “What? Why would people need help doing that?” “Quick – what would you say if there were 600 people in line behind you and you’d been travelling for 22 hours and you didn’t want to get locked up by TSA and someone who should know better questioned your life’s work?” asks Anne. “This woman probably talks to more people passing from one country to another than 99.9 per cent of the world’s population. That’s what she does all day long. Yet she clearly had never considered what their lives were like after they turned the corner, collected their luggage, and left the airport. “I fought the urge to comment on the importance of perspective-taking ability or on cultural differences in immigration customs, and instead mumbled a few examples I thought she might understand – drivers’ licenses, home finding, school registration – and shuffled off. “Here’s what I wish I’d said: ‘The moment one enters a new country, one is faced with a barrage of small and

large challenges – practical, social, legal, psychological and cultural. Those who learn to master the acts of daily living and adjust to the new social norms, who come to see the world from a new perspective, who negotiate new family roles and responsibilities, who manage to preserve their core identity in the face of inevitable misunderstanding, who, in short, bridge the considerable communication and values gap between where they’re from and where they’re going – those are our new neighbours who contribute richness and insight to our lives, and who keep our windows open to innovation and new perspective. They’re doing a lot by themselves. What I do is lend them a hand.’ “Oh well, the guy behind me in line is probably glad I zipped my lip!” • The Interchange Institute conducts research on the process of intercultural transition, produces publications to assist newcomers to the US, designs and delivers specialized cross-cultural training workshops, and trains and consults to professionals in the field. Sign up to Anne’s regular e-note by sending an e-mail to: info@ interchangeinstitute.org

SPECIAL BENELUX IMMIGRATION & RELOCATION PACKAGES AVAILABLE! Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Antwerp, Rotterdam 45 local experts are awaiting you!

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COUNCIL

Meet the EuRA Council EuRA’s Council for the 2011/12 year includes members with a vast and impressive range of skills and experience in relocation management services. ÅSE Löfgren Gunsten (President) was voted onto the EuRA Council in 2006 and was chosen to be President in 2011. Åse is the owner and CEO of Nordic Relocation Group. She was born in Norway and grew up in the Philippines. She holds a Swedish degree in Nursing from the Red Cross School of Nursing and also a degree from the Stockholm University in Human Resource Management. Åse has been in the relocation industry since 1993. Today Nordic Relocation Group have offices in the three major cities of Sweden; Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö. In April 2008 Nordic Relocation, was the first relocation company in Sweden to receive the EuRA Quality Seal, a quality certification offering our clients guaranteed high standard of inbound as well as outbound relocation services. Being a member of EuRA and participating in the various training and events, meeting other managers, participating in the networking EuRA provides has been very positive and has helped develop her company into what it is today. Åse’s main interest has been in the area of training and education. As well as being President, Åse is also the EuRA representative on the EARP Board (European Academy of Relocation Professionals). Anita Meyer is a representative for the Benelux Region and joined the Council in 2011. Anita is the founder and CEO of am&pm relocation. Born and raised in Belgium, by parents who became expats when she was 17 years old, she visited her family regularly in Singapore, Mexico, Paris, Porto, Johannesburg, while studying in Belgium. With a university degree in translation (Dutch, French, English, Italian), she has enjoyed a career in human resources with companies such as Wagons Lits, Pullman Hotels, Ciba Geigyn and Olin Hunt. The birth of a son and daughter in quick succession, gently pushed her in the direction of setting up her own company in 1993, offering translation, copywriting and office start-up services. International customers suggested adding relocation to the list. In 1997 all other activities were divested, to concentrate on the true professional passion: immigration and destination services. Today am&pm assists expats and their families in all major cities in Belgium, with a strong team of consultants and account executives. am&pm achieved their EuRA Quality Seal in 2008. Christine Martin is the representative for the Southern Region and joined the Council in 2010. Born in Paris, of dual SpanishFrench nationality, Christine studied law at the University of Barcelona and is fluent in

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Top row (l-r): ÅSE Löfgren Gunsten, Anita Meyer, Christine Martin, Isabel Reis, Jon Harman, Bottom row (l-r): Klaus Kremers, Patrick Oman, Sabine Baerlocher, Sylvie Schmit-Verbrugghen

French, Spanish, English, and Swedish as well as having working knowledge of Catalan. She lived and studied in Stockholm, Sweden for three years. Over the years she founded and managed two textile companies selling finished garments to the United States, France, and Scandinavia. Then, together with her late husband John Barclay, an American businessman, started a service company in 1988 for the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympic Games, Olympic Advisors S.L. (OASL), which she is now managing full time. Olympic Advisors has since established itself in the market as a leading DSP company in Spain, has been an active member of EuRA for over 10 years and plans on playing an important role in the relocation industry for many years to come. Olympic Advisors achieved their Quality Seal certification in 2009. Isabel Reis, representative for the Southern Region, joined the Council in 2008. Isabel is Triplicado’s Senior Partner and Manager and started life as a ‘third culture kid’ in Angola. Isabel finished her higher education in Translation and Portuguese Language and Culture, at Lisbon University. She also studied at the French Institute and British Council, achieving full qualifications for teaching Portuguese to relocatees to Portugal. In 1987 Isabel began teaching expatriates Portuguese Language and Culture, at the same time as working with a government sponsored relocation initiative. In 1992, she became Lead Teacher in the AUTOEUROPA Ford / Volkswagen project to 200 families moving to Portugal. This involved taking over all teaching and translation activities, employing around 30 teachers, consultants, technical translators and interpreters. To facilitate these activities and to meet the strong demand for relocation services, Isabel formed Triplicado Relocation. In 2000

Triplicado took over Portugal Relocation, their main competitor and have since became the accredited Portuguese representative for the largest international relocation companies as well as direct clients. Triplicado achieved their EuRA Quality Seal in 2008. Jon Harman is the representative for the Eastern Region and joined the Council in 2010. “I joined Move One Relocations in the summer of 2005 as a consultant conducting home searches in Budapest. Within a few months, I was presented with the opportunity take on the coordination of destination services for all Move One locations. Since that time, we have seen our two-person coordination team (my colleague, Kasia Pinska handles the immigration side) expand to 15 and counting, and I have taken on the responsibilities of Group Operations Manager. I have not been in this business for long, but supporting our local offices and our clients during this exciting growth phase has been a tremendous education in our challenging and rewarding industry. I was introduced to EuRA at the 2006 convention in Budapest and I have truly enjoyed the sense of community fostered by EuRA via their conferences and other activities. I welcome the opportunity to represent Eastern Europe as we work to support and promote EuRA Members and the industry as a whole.” Move One Relocations achieved their EuRA Quality Seal in 2008. Klaus Kremers is a representative for the Central Region and joined the Council in 2011. After many years in various service sectors he started working in the relocation industry in 2003, took over Relocation Service Duesseldorf in 2005 as Managing Director, rebranded it successfully to Relocation Service Desk and was one of the founders of Palladium Mobility Group set up in 2011 with 9 offices all over Germany. “My first EuRA conference was in Berlin


COUNCIL in 2005, and every year since then I have very much enjoyed the sense of community within EuRA, as well as the open minded exchange of information with international colleagues,” he says. “I believe that the experience I have, in both the service and the relocation sector, has prepared me well to make a positive contribution to EuRA and to represent the Central Region by supporting and promoting the EuRA members and our demanding relocation industry as a whole.” Relocation Service Desk achieved their EuRA Quality Seal in 2009.” Patrick Oman, Managing Director of IrishRelo, is a representative for the Northern Region and joined the Council in 2008. Patrick is a veteran of the relocation industry. Prior to his involvement with IrishRelo which itself was one of the pioneers in Ireland having been established in 1994, Patrick served on the board of OMNI the Overseas Moving Network International and was President of that organisation from 2000 to 2002. He became managing director of IrishRelo in 2002 and has been fully engaged in relocation since. Patrick joined ERC in 1996 and EuRA prior to their Dublin conference in 2000, when IrishRelo was Gold Sponsor. He has been invited onto various industry committees and is currently part of EuRA’s RMC DSP task force. As a strong supporter of the EARP and EuRA Quality Seal Initiatives, Patrick has achieved the EARP ERQ 2 and IrishRelo was among the first to achieve the EuRA Quality Seal accreditation in 2008. Sabine Baerlocher, CEO of Active Relocation is a representative for the Central Region. Sabine studied law at Geneva University and after graduating in 1993, spent time working in the US. On returning to Switzerland, she continued her professional career managing the real estate and expansion department of a branch company from the second largest Swiss retailer (Simeco Management, Coop Group). In 2000 she was invited to join the Board of that company and subsequently bought Active Relocation. In 2008 Sabine was appointed by the Swiss government as a member of the Forum SME, an expert commission representing the interests of small and medium enterprises. Sabine is a past president of the boards of TIRA, The International Relocation Associates, and of SARA, the Swiss Association for Relocation Agents. Sabine has studied extensively in the field of intercultural theory and achieved her EARP Fellowship designation, (the highest qualification awarded by the Academy) with the successful submission of her thesis on Cultural Diversity in Switzerland. Sabine and her team are graduates of Programmes A&B of the EuRA, Oxford Brookes Relocation Coaching training, which has further enhanced their professional skills in the application of intercultural theory to the mobility process. Active Relocation achieved their EuRA Quality Seal in 2010. Sylvie Schmit-Verbrugghen, MD of European Relocation Services S.A. Luxembourg, represents the Benelux Region. Sylvie is Belgian and has lived in Luxembourg for 24 years. She is a Languages and Economics graduate and worked in the relocation industry for more than 15 years before setting up her own company in 2004. The company boasts the coveted Quality Seal and is a member of TIRA, HROne, Worldwide ERC, EMA and AMCHAM. ERS has received several awards for “Best Ex-Pat Services” by HROne. She is on the board of directors of AMCHAM. Sylvie has regularly contributed to successive editions of “Living in Luxembourg”, published by the American Women’s Club. Sylvie is also an active member of Zonta International, a global organization of professionals working to advance the status of women worldwide through service and advocacy. Sylvie’s goal is to promote EuRA and the industry worldwide, achieve better cooperation with HR managers and to share best practice within EuRA. European Relocation services was one of the first companies to achieve the EuRA Quality Seal in 2008.

Nordic Relocation Group Your gateway to Sweden Nordic Relocation Group is Sweden’s leading suppliers of relocation services and has a proven track record of “Excellence in Relocation”: Not only by holding the EuRA quality seal since 2008 but also as being rewarded with Cartus Platinum Award 2010 for the high quality in our services delivered to customers. Nordic Relocation Group is also a part of Absolute Nordic Relocation (www.abolutenordicrelocation.com) offering excellence in relocation services throughout the Nordic region of Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. Why not test relocation services with business class quality? It´s not more expensive, just better.

Åse Löfgren Gunsten

STOCKHOLM Regeringsgatan 111, SE-111 39 Stockholm, Sweden Phone +46 (0)8 545 895 40 Fax: +46 8 545 89 49

GÖTEBORG Södra Vägen 7A, SE-411 39 Göteborg, Sweden Phone +46 (0)31 333 54 40 Fax: +46 31 333 54 49

MALMÖ Föreningsgatan 55, 5th floor 211 52 Malmö, Sweden Phone:+46 40 25 88 70 Fax: +46 40 25 88 79

LUND Ideon Science Park, Scheelevägen 17, 223 70 Lund, Sweden Phone:+46 46 286 49 90 Fax: +46 46 286 49 99

www.nrgab.com / info@nrgab.com Winter 2011

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INTERVIEW

Know yourself,

have a sense of humour and you’ll go far Colin Moon, crosscultural communication expert and keynote speaker at the EuRA Congress in Stockholm next year, reveals some of his innermost secrets.

What is your advice to someone beginning their career in global mobility management? Most people think they are normal, that’s their starting point. But the truth is you are probably weird in someone else’s eyes. Know who you are first, understand your own cultural values and study your own cultural heritage before looking at others. You may even see how strange you come across. Who do you most admire, and why? Anybody who has had an addiction to drugs or alcohol and has kicked the habit and is now clean. Such strength, such determination, such courage. I have difficulty saying no to chocolate. What do you never travel without? Earplugs. I have had the misfortune to have a room directly above the dance floor, next to wild parties and right beside a noisy elevator.

Who is Colin Moon (in three sentences)? Colin Moon is British but left the UK at the age of 23 to live in various countries and embark on a varied career. He now lives in Stockholm, Sweden and is a professional business speaker, author, moderator and interviewer. Colin specialises in cross-cultural communication and his philosophy is, rather surprisingly, that we will probably never fully understand people from other cultures.   What do you think is your greatest personal achievement to date? Learning to pronounce some of the Swedish vowel sounds. It’s like gymnastics of the mouth. Also, I have saved someone from suicide and I have adopted two starving, stray cats and given them a life of luxury. What inspires and motivates you? People who have such varied lives! People who say ‘Oh, I’ve just got back from South America, went to the theatre yesterday, having guests all weekend, getting the boat ready for the spring, going to a spa tomorrow and am now off for a meal with friends.’ These people just get on with getting the most out of life and that often inspires me to do more than sit at home and stroke the cats.

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What is your favourite book,  film and piece of music – and why? My favourite book is Garden Design for the 21st Century, by Terence Conran and Diarmud Gavin. The pictures are stunning, breathtaking and almost make me cry. I just want to kiss the pages. Oh, how I dream.. However, living in a country with a gardening season of three months, if you are lucky, limits me and the realization of my dream to create my own Garden of Eden. My favourite film is Harold and Maud, based on friendship between a young man and a woman old enough to be his Grandmother. They like going to funerals together. Yes, it’s weird. But I can really relate to the fact that two people from two different worlds and age-groups can find each other. My favourite music? Whitney Houston – ‘I wanna dance with somebody’. I dance when I hear it and I feel happy all over and ‘Il venait d’avoir 18 ans’ by the EgyptianFrench singer Dallida. I cry when I hear it and I feel sad all over. When are you happiest? When I am feeding the fish in my pond. They have names and I am convinced they respond to them. If you had the choice of living anywhere in the world, where would it be? Paris, as long as I didn’t have to go anywhere near Charles de Gaulle airport. Paris is a city of gorgeous smells, everything

from the patisserie to the metro. It’s stylish, grandiose and chic. It’s familiar, yet foreign. And friendly. Believe me. What annoys you? People who recline their seats on an plane without having the common decency to look behind them first to check if it’s OK. Do you have a favourite saying, or piece of advice you refer to regularly? Do It Now! My father saved his money and dreamt all his latter working life of his retirement and the exciting things he was going to do. He had the time to jump from a parachute and ride a horse once before he was struck down by a cruel, vicious stroke. He had waited in vain. So my motto is clearly: ‘Do it now!’ If you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, who would it be? Henry VIII. He could be very interesting and I guarantee the meal would be great. If a film were made of your life, who would you like to play Colin Moon? Sean Connery. Pretentious, I know, but the thought appeals to me. What is your next ‘big project’? I am off to Qatar to give a talk at the Middle East Summit organized by Exportrådet, the Swedish Trade Council.  It’s a long way to go for 30 minutes but Doha is a fascinating place.   Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions? Actually it’s a very simple one – I must get married one day. For romantic reasons only.     How would you like to be remembered? I want everybody to be dressed in black and sob at my funeral. I want people to break down in sorrow and I want the somber music they always played at Soviet State Funerals. Once everybody had got over their grief, then I’d like people to remember me the way I remember my father, as I inherited from him one of the great gifts of life – always rely on a sense of humour. Sooner or later there’s probably a funny side to most things. People who make others smile are quite simply winners.


NEWS

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The EuRApean November 2011