A Warm Welcome Back in Houston for FEM!

FEM returned to Houston and the reception was phenomenal. From engaging speakers to valuable panels, the breadth of knowledge shared and connections made underscored the day.

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FEM is delighted to report our Houston event was a smash success! It has been our pleasure to host our annual Global Mobility Conference in Houston on 9 February 2016 at the fabulous Hyatt Regency in the buzzing downtown area. During the conference, our attendees were able to learn, share and discuss the hottest topics in Global Mobility as distilled down to a spotlight on Houston.

From the brilliantly comedic and wonderfully knowledgeable duo of Israel Lozano and Jeff Bryson to the nuanced views from Heather Graham, Jenny Midyat, Paul Crouch, Diego Archer and Tony Pattio on turning challenging into opportunities, the conference brought industry-leading experts together to debate and distil the past years successes and trends to look forward to into the rest of 2016 and beyond.

Opening with a discussion on how to adapt your Global Mobility strategy during economic downturn, the participants examined opportunities to reduce costs and how to educate the business on the cost - and value - of international assignments. The rallying cry was that now is the time to look at best practice and change up programmes to reflect advancements and experiment with new processes and policy types to optimise Global Mobility. While there was some tentative discussion on looking to the upturn and preparing for it, the consensus was to focus on the now for immediate change.

Our day then segued into a robust chat on the role of localisation policies and how they can enable globalisation while maintaining cost optimisation goals of mobility programmes worldwide. Chaired by Courtney Ellis-Jones, Content Manager of the Forum for Expatriate Management and author of the annual FEM Policy in Practice report on localisation, she facilitated the expert panellists of Berna Anderson, Patti Warner, Heather Thomas and Heather Falk, letting the superb speakers discuss challenges in localisation, where localisation is on the rise and the best practice in implementing and recognising localisation not just in their own organisations, but across industries and regions. The question they left attendees with was simple: as mobility programmes look to achieve better transparency, can you ever true parity when localisation and local+ contracts are available?

Group sessions split into two unique tracts, both with valuable insights, and geared toward those working in oil and gas and those across other industries in Houston. Everyone reunited to look at immigration challenges in the US and the combined knowledge of Roberto Caballero of Barry Appleman & Leiden, Helene Dang of Foster LLP and Kelly Cobb of Fragomen Worldwide facilitated what was overheard at the conference to be "the most engaging immigration panel ever". Humour and aplomb saw the three distil best practice for management of various types of policies and nationalities as well as, most importantly, a deep dive into the changes over the last year happened both internally and externally with immigration and how mobility programmes can expect to see those changes reverberate and impact their own practices.

Jeff Bryson walked the attendees through the case for change at Halliburton and didn't just provide the basic background, but an entire foundational overview as to why change was needed, how it was achieved and the process in getting a large company to accept the change. Sharing the stage with Israel Lozano of Kimberly Clark, Israel took the audience deep into the complexities within a mobility programme and how those varying areas can impact not only the all too important cost efficiency of a mobility programme, but the delivery, satisfaction and success of mobility at an organisational level. Together, they shared incredible insight into how to engage with the wider HR function and business to make mobility a true player.

Before our day ended with our hotly anticipated wine reception, we closed out with a discussion on how to manage a multi-generational expatriate management as chaired by Berna Anderson leading millennials panellists themselves, Elizabeth Minter and Lynne Florence. The unique insight the two brought as the very emergent group in mobility took the audience into the heart of the wants, desires and needs of new generations as they join the workforce and move up their career ladder. Millennials are hungry for big jobs, new locations and huge opportunities. How can organisations keep them engaged? Lynne Florence made the very real point that while "Millennials are more self-sufficient, they have much higher expectations!"

Throughout the day our valued supplier network and sponsors exhibited in the buzzing exhibition hall and lead breakout sessions on a variety of hot topics crucial to development and best practice for global mobility programmes. Cost optimisation, compliance (both in tax and business travel) brought a lot of practical, technical knowledge to attendees and other sessions reflected this spirit with effective strategies and case studies for managing rotator populations and expatriates in challenging locations. With breakouts led by Fragomen, Sterling Relocation, GTN, GS3, Radius, Newland Chase, GTLaw, Cultural Awareness, Dean Foster and the Village School attendees were confident they were receiving the best and highest level expert insight.

Our lead sponsors of Barry Appleman & Leiden LLP (BAL), Foster, Fragomen Worldwide, Newland Chase and Sterling Relocation in tandem with our platinum sponsors of GS3, Greenberg Traurig (GTLaw) and the Village School made the day possible. Their kind participation allowed our corporate attendees to remain complimentary and we would like to take this time to personally recognise these organisations for their continued support and sponsorship so all global mobility professionals can come together on this important day for learning and networking.

The Houston conference may have come and gone, but the Americas summit is on its way. Scheduled for 4-5 May in Philadelphia, registration is now open. We are so grateful for any feedback or comments from those who attended or from those who have ideas on how we can continue to best serve the industry and bring cutting edge insight and topics to those who attend our events.

We would also like to give a final thank everyone who attended, exhibited and spoke for their dedication and commitment to not only the industry as a whole, but to making our 2016 Houston Global Mobility Conference the best one yet!

For any questions on upcoming events please contact our Events Manager, Ellie Long.

Courtney Ellis-Jones

Courtney began her career in global mobility nearly a decade ago. She originally began her career working in the in-house HR function, but transitioned to a role with a destination services provider inside the business development remit. Courtney has focused since on high level transformation of mobility programmes, including policy reform, process improvements and academic research. Her career has led her to touch all sides of the global mobility function from working as a supplier to delivering in-house mobility services. She has worked across industries and regions, having lived in the United States, France, Hungary, Estonia and the United Kingdom and has been with FEM since October 2015.

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