Success in Sydney 2017 - FEM's Global Mobilty Conference

Many thanks to all those who attended the 2017 FEM Sydney Global Mobility Conference. Almost 40 speakers from across Australia and beyond delivered absorbing and engaging presentations and key insights from a range of industries and perspectives.

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Our panel discussions provoked some lively debate and our opening panel set the tone for the day by taking a fresh perspective on a topic relevant to all. Five speakers: Dr Yvette Blount, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Business and Economics at Macquarie University, Abigail Harris, Senior Director of Global Mobility at FIS, Grant Herbert, founder and CEO of People Builders, Sharon Leadbetter, Workplace Health Leader at WayAhead, the Mental Health Association of NSW and Monica Phillips, Mobility Lead – Global Projects at Hatch engaged in an exploration of the ‘Future Workplace’ that examined the impact of new technology, automation, and the working habits and expectations of different generations, combined with a look at the importance of supporting employees’ mental health.

A show of hands from the audience revealed that the significance of mental health among assignees has until recently at least not really been addressed on a formal level, but speaking to many delegates after the session it sounded as though it would be given further consideration.

Urgent concerns

Our Immigration panel was a very popular and timely discussion and addressed many of the attendees’ concerns about recent changes in the immigration policies and regulations in Australia. With so much to cover, and with a number of questions from the audience on the fallout from the closing of 457 visa program, there was little time to talk about immigration into new markets in Asia too, but we will ensure that we do so at our APAC Summit in Hong Kong in September. Nevertheless, our Sydney attendees very sensibly took advantage of having so much legal expertise in one room and with their extraordinary breadth of knowledge and witty style, Douglas Allison, Senior Associate at Berry Appleman & Leiden, Wayne Parcell, Partner and Global Immigration Leader at EY and Alex Paterson, Co-Managing Partner of Australia and New Zealand at Fragomen made quite a technical subject both clear and engaging.

Getting on stream

After a well-earned break for refreshments and networking, we moved in the Stream system and I’m most grateful to Janelle Parkinson, Head of Global Mobility, Remuneration, Recognition and Benefits at Westpac Group for so expertly chairing Stream B. The first session there was led by Craig Lynch Partner at People Advisory Services, EY with a case study from Abigail Harris, Senior Director of Global Mobility at FIS, where they looked at the opportunities that so called disruption may offer and how global mobility can help to drive business success.

At the same time in Stream A, Vincent Tackoen, Managing Partner at Talent Mobility Search moderated a discussion about achieving operational excellence through effective vendor management. His panellists were Tim Burgess, CEO of ShieldGeo, Linda Kam, Manager of Global Mobility and Benefits at Qantas, and Amanda Laing, Global Mobility National Lead at Deloitte and provided a number of useful insights and practical ideas.

Back in Stream B, in the final session of the morning, Simon Kennedy, Principal, Market Insights Practice Leader at Mercer introduced his colleague, Cathy Tomkins, Learning and Development Delivery Leader, who ran a highly interactive and lively workshop looking at the ways that neuroscience can be used to shape global mobility.

In Stream A, Charles Johanes, Special Counsel (Advisory & Compliance) at Fragomen and Sasko Markovski, Partner at Fragomen drilled down to the detail of the latest immigration reforms and offered practical advice on how to both manage the current situation and prepare for further changes to come.

Lunch was served in the Exhibition Hall and it was great to see so many delegates chatting and connecting with the sponsors and exhibitors.

A range of perspectives

Back to the Streams, attendees had the option of understanding the benefits and risks of incorporating shared economy services into business travel policies with International SOS’ Sally Napper, Security Director in Australia and Louise Volsen, Client Services Director, Australasia. While in Stream A, Nick Sutton, Director of Client Services at Crown World Mobility moderated a discussion about global mobility trends and disruptions with great panache. Panellists MaryAnn Albanese, APAC Mobility Projects and Oceania Mobility Leader at EY, and Lisa Johnson, CWM Global Practice Leader, Consulting Services, at Crown World Mobility provided both invaluable insight and thought-provoking questions to challenge the audience further.

This was followed by an interesting and practical session on leveraging technology to automate and streamline GM processes with Sheri Gaster, VP of Technology at Equus and Barbara Legaspi, Specialist in Reward and Capability at South32.

In Stream B, Caroline Hickson, Director at KPMG, Linda Kam, Manager Global Mobility and Benefits at Qantas, along with Ablean Saoud, Partner at KPMG and Nicola Spencer, Senior Global Mobility Advisor with Fonterra posed the question: To equalise or not equalise? Tax is of course one of the perennial issues to discuss at our conferences, but our panel managed to bring a freshness to the discussion and engaged a packed room.

Our penultimate keynote panel explored the dichotomy of globalisation and isolationism, looking at the impact on mobility and business of the dramatic geopolitical changes that we have recently witnessed. Catherine Cain, Global Mobility Transformation Lead at Telstra, Prabal Chatterjee, Head of HR, Australia and New Zealand at Tata Consultancy Services, Kathy McCombie, Partner, People Advisory Services at EY and Tracey Shaw, International Mobility Manager at Herbert Smith Freehills made up our panel and were able to offer very different perspectives on all the issues within the topic.

Maintaining the energy 

Our final panel session was a great way to round off a day of intense discussion and our panellists, Adnan Altaf, Compensation, Benefits and Mobility Lead at Holcim, Justin Long, Manager, Global Mobility at BHP, Karen Mathiesen, Mobility Manager, APAC at WorleyParsons and Claire Springthorpe, International Mobility Advisor at Capgemini maintained a notable level of energy. In addition to exploring ways to achieve best practice and meet productivity and cost initiatives, the panel also shared their key ‘take-home’ observations from the Sydney Conference and were able to impart realistic, practical advice.

Drinks were served in the Cockle Bay Foyer, where delegates, sponsors and supporters marvelled at the spectacular views of Darling Harbour while talking to friends and connections both old and new.

It was an extremely busy day, and my first visit to Australia, so it was fascinating for me to see both the similarities and differences with FEM’s events in EMEA and the Americas. It was a privilege to meet and talk to so many people there and to have so many speakers and attendees fly in from across Australia, New Zealand and beyond. Aysegul Kayahan leads our Australian Chapters in Brisbane, Melbourne Perth and Sydney and holds regular meetings so do contact her, or our Global Chapters Manager, Marianne Aronsen if you would like to get involved.

FEM would like to thank all our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and of course - our great attendees for making this Sydney Global Mobility Conference such a huge success. We look forward to seeing you again in Sydney in 2018!

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.

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