A highly successful Americas Summit in Denver

Thank you to everyone who attended the 2017 FEM Americas Summit in Denver. More than 40 speakers from across America and beyond delivered absorbing and engaging presentations and key insights.

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The panel discussions provoked some lively debate and addressed a number of really challenging issues. Attendance levels were really high – every single corporate professional who registered made sure that they were there, and the feedback on the breadth and depth of content was excellent.

It’s really hard to pick out particular sessions because so much was on offer and it was impossible to be at every single one, but all the plenary sessions were compelling.

After our corporate roundtable discussions, we began by looking at mobility across the Americas and our panel of Heather Falk of Lloyd’s Register, Deborah Gaisser of Genentech/Roche, Tony Pattio (formerly at Worley Parsons) and Kenia Ward of Summit Mining shared some great examples of the difficulties they have faced – and most importantly – how they have dealt with them.

Getting on Track

Once we were into the Tracks it became hard to choose, but many delegates hopped between sessions so that they could absorb the expertise on offer on Immigration, policy and packages and technology and tracking. In Track A, Robert Horsley and Cynthia Lange from our event’s headline sponsors Fragomen discussed how to define the optimal immigration program.

In Track B, Guli Blake (formerly of Newmont Mining), Martijn Bouwman of Orion Mobility, Gretchen Keefner of Envoy Global and Blythe Sparacino of Johns Manville had a lively discussion of frequent business travelers, and in Track C, Matt Burns (formerly at Lockheed Martin moderated a discussion on using technology with Christopher Chalk of Siemens, Elizabeth Karcher of Discovery Communications and Andrew Walker of EY.

Expert insight was then also on offer from Cynthia Lange who examined immigration under the new Trump Administration, Nick Lee of Stantec discussed compensation for international employees and in Track C, Sheri Gaster of Equus Software and Cassi Bauer of CB7I discussed the latest advances in technology.

Case studies in each track were provided by Jennifer Doreen of the University of Oregon, where she shared some creative solutions for dealing with immigration restrictions, Heather Falk in Track B talked about assignee satisfaction and retention, while Anthony Hanshaw of Mosaic delivered a much-needed talk on keeping track of your employees in difficult locations.

So, after all these panel discussions, expert insights and case studies in each track, we joined together again for a keynote panel discussion on a favourite topic for global mobility professionals: How to transform the role of global mobility from operational to strategic. This is always a popular issue, but I was keen to ensure that we looked at things realistically, and delivered some solid ideas and strategies that attendees could take away and implement at their own organisations.

A fresh and realistic approach

Our three speakers, Christopher Chalk, of Siemens, Robert Lesser (formerly at Morgan Stanley) and Andrew Walker of EY certainly did not disappoint, and the audience were fully engaged and many reported that it was real stand-out discussion for them.

Our final session ended the day on a high – with Frank Schuitema of International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF) delivering a masterclass in how to keep an audience both entertained and absorbed. With characteristic flair, Frank shared his very particular philosophy, his company’s enlightened approach to mobility – and his rather unusual method of measuring ROI.

Day Two - and another packed agenda

Day Two kicked off in the huge Colorado Ballroom with our Risk Management & Compliance panel and Matt Burns led the discussion of FEM’s Policy in Practice Report – which we launched in February at our Houston Conference. Matt had done some further work with the findings and led a great discussion with the rest of the panel in which we were very fortunate to have some major corporations represented with Brian Madine of McDonalds Corporation, Jennifer Manis of Halliburton and Laura Rodriguez of Johnson & Johnson. The audience took part too with a show of hands for a series of questions. – The end of the session proved its worth when the majority of the audience raised their hands to say that as a result of the discussion, they would be going back to their workplaces to review their risk management policies as a matter of urgency!

Then we moved back into our three Tracks for a series of presentations on topics including managing assignments in the ‘gig economy’ with Brendan Kinne of Berry Appleman & Lieden and Lori Bennet of CH2M, managing business travelers with Rachel Tyler of BridgeStreet Global Hospitality, and how to tailor global mobility solutions for project-based organizations with Trey Delmark of Polaris Global Mobility and David Crosby of CH2M.

After a networking break, we continued in the Tracks with expert advice on managing assignees and business travelers in the Middle East, from Angela Myers of BAE Systems, Tax and Compliance advice from Brian Madine of McDonalds, while Amy Creech shared a case study on handling the integration of a mobility population after and acquisition.

We then reconvened in the plenary room for David Crosby and Beth Reynolds’ workshop on creating a set of ‘mobility essentials’.

After lunch, eight sponsored roundtables were packed with corporate attendees, while the suppliers were able to get the inside track on procurement and supplier selection from David Crosby and Brenda Darrow-Fuhs of CH2M.

Thinking outside the box

Jennifer Manis of Haliburton then invited the audience to think outside the box on the subject of cost containment and managing benefits. Jennifer is always a really popular speaker and had an information-packed presentation, delivered with great style and humour, so it was a pity that we were starting to run out of time and there was no time for questions.

During a networking break, the prize draws were made in the exhibition, then it was back to the last two plenary discussions.

Guli Blake, (formerly at Newmont Mining) Frank Shuitema of IFF, and Laura Rodriguez of Johnson & Johnson injected some extra energy into proceedings by walking around while discussing relocation hotspots – a decision that worked really well at that point in the afternoon.

Our final panel discussion examined the ‘New Look’ international assignee, and Myra Cantarella-Kay of Arcadis in Denver, joined David Crosby of CH2M, Elizabeth Karcher of Discovery Commuications and Vini Valverde from Trimble (and a leading figure on the Steering Committee of FEM’s Denver Chapter).

It was an extremely busy two days, and it was great to have people fly in from across the country – and to have ten local experts to speak too. If you'd like to know more about our Denver Chapter, now led by William Zaleski of PWC, please contact our Global Chapters Manager, Marianne Aronsen

A huge thank you

FEM would like to thank all our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and of course - our great attendees for making this Americas Summit such a huge success. We look forward to seeing you in San Diego in 2018!

For information about the 2017 Americas EMMAs winners and to see the photographs, see Oh what a night at the Americas EMMAs!

Claire Tennant-Scull

Global Director, Content & Events, Forum for Expatriate Management

Claire Tennant-Scull is Global Director of Content & Events at the Forum for Expatriate Management (FEM). She produces and chairs all FEM’s Conferences and Summits in Amsterdam, the Americas, APAC and EMEA and oversees FEM's global awards (EMMAs). Claire works closely with key clients, leads FEM’s London Chapter and oversees the FEM website, reports and publications. In addition to her experience in Global Mobility, Claire has more than 20 years’ expertise in publishing, working as a managing editor, writer, journalist and broadcaster, both in the print and digital world. With thousands of contacts across the Global Mobility community, Claire is always keen to welcome new members and to broaden the FEM community.