We are delighted to extend a huge, warm welcome to two new colleagues in our London-based Consultancy & Advisory team! Meet Francine Smith and James Mathers, our new Global Mobility Consultants, and read on to find out how they are settling in, plus a little bit about themselves and their new roles.
Hi Francine and James, and welcome to ECA. It’s been a busy start for you both, what have you been working on?
FS: It’s flown by! We’ve been really busy and just finished the ECA Global Mobility Exchanges for Scandinavia, DACH, France and the Netherlands, which have been fantastic as they’ve allowed us to meet some of our clients and industry peers. I’ve also been participating in the Leaders Exchanges organised by Global Mobility Executive (GME), which has been super interesting too, touching on the themes of sustainability, DE&I and how the pandemic has disrupted the global mobility sphere. There’s also been a lot of client meetings and calculations!
JM: Yes, our Global Mobility Exchanges have been really good fun, and there’s one more to go for the South African market. We’re actually writing up some notes for a blog post which will be coming to the ECA website soon, to share key themes and takeaways from the discussions.
FS: Having had introductory sessions with our new colleagues here at ECA, James and I also had some great chats with the team at TST (Tracker Software Technologies). It’s been really nice getting to know them as well, and talking through the Global Tracker tool and everything they have to offer.
So where did your careers in Global Mobility start and how did they develop after that?
JM: I actually started out in the sector straight from school when I joined PwC as a higher apprentice after sitting my A-levels – so straight into the thick of it! For the first eight or so years of my career I was focusing mainly on tax, and consultancy work around that, such as business compliance with UK taxes.
FS: I’ve got five years’ experience in global mobility. Previously I was Global Mobility Advisor at Edwards Vacuum, which is part of Atlas Copco, but before that I had a very broad HR background and was essentially an HR generalist for quite some time. I then moved into comp & ben and pensions around the time of auto-enrolments which was interesting. I was then in charge of UK benefits for the Body Shop before moving to LVMH where I looked after benefits for their cosmetic and beauty division, which was all very fun too. Once I got into global mobility, though, I really enjoyed it. Global mobility is so diverse and there’s so much to learn. It’s everchanging and, especially with the effects of Brexit and then the pandemic, it has all been turned on its head again. It’s a really exciting time for global mobility and ECA.
Now that you’ve joined ECA, what are your first impressions?
JM: Everyone at ECA’s been really warm and welcoming. We had a designated ‘training week’ which was great as it meant we were able to meet everybody, and gave us a really good head start. Even though it’s been mostly virtual so far, I feel part of the ECA team and completely integrated into the company already.
FS: It’s been really good to start talking to clients and people in the industry about what they’re up to as well, and get insights into how different companies and organisations are approaching the same issues.
JM: The culture here is really engaging too - the company goes to a lot of effort to try and understand the client, and their perspective on a given issue and all of the background that goes into it. It’s not just about efficiency at ECA, but also about building and nurturing that important relationship between the two organisations.
FS: Absolutely. One of our new colleagues said at our induction that it is as though we are an employee of or an extension to the client’s company, and they were totally right. It’s not just a transactional relationship; a lot of time is put into developing the connection with our clients in order to support them best.
Any tips that could help give added value to a GM professional reading this?
FS: For me, I would suggest they check out our cost projection tool which I think is invaluable. In fact, I’d encourage GM professionals to take advantage of all the technology that is available right now. What really impressed me when I first joined ECA was the sheer volume of background data that goes into our cost projections, such as the meticulous location ratings reports or the detailed cost of living basket data. This means the projections are up to date and super accurate which is really important, especially now, as every mobility professional needs to be able to confirm exactly how much an assignment will cost.
JM: Also, don’t be afraid to use consultancy teams to get a fresh set of eyes on a policy or to take a look at areas such as remote working, sustainability, or DE&I. Even if it is only a small project, it can be really useful to get a new perspective on things, make sure everything is watertight, and ultimately help move things forward.
And finally, if you hadn’t gone down the international HR career path, what do you think you would be doing instead?
JM: I would be a wildlife photographer or maybe a birdhouse maker, which is something I dabbled in during lockdown!
FS: I think I would want to be a sommelier – before I got into HR I worked in the wine trade and I was involved in shipping wines from France and South Africa, as well as all of the champagne, which was lovely!
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