An interview with Matthew Burns

Meet our speaker, Matthew Burns, from Lockheed Martin as he talks about the current state of Global Mobility and why you should attend his session!

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FEM is delighted to confirm Matthew Burns, Director for HR Operations and Latin America at Lockheed Martin, will be joining us on our From Administrative Function to Business Partner and the Evolving Role of Global Mobility keynote panel at the Philadelphia Summit on 4 May. Join him to learn more from his insights on the future of Global Mobility. Matthew will also be leading a roundtable around "Defining “duty of care” within Global Mobility: what are programmes required to give their employees?"


FEM: How long have you been involved in the Global Mobility sector?

MB: I have been involved in the Global Mobility sector for over ten years and have worked in the international area (six expat assignments) for over 30.

FEM: What changes have you seen in that time?

MB: Technology has made the world feel smaller even if it has the same measurements. I recall during my first expat assignment in the late 1970s for the arrival of snail mail, newspapers and catalogs. Now, my tablet gets electronic correspondence on demand 24x7, news is available from countless sources on demand and on-line shopping (not to mention on-line banking, on-line tax filing and countless other transactions) move around the world in an instant. The technology supporting Global Mobility has made dramatic strides in the last decade and will continue to evolve, changing the way we manage our global talent.

FEM: What do you think are the 3 greatest challenges facing Global Mobility professionals today?

MB: The three greatest challenges (#1 – Limiting myself to only three challenges! J)

  1. (A) Complexity – More information is not always a positive. The world is incredibly complex. No single human can know it all so networking (knowing who knows) becomes ever more crucial.
  2. (B) Diversity of Talent – The modern workforce is more diverse every day. Living arrangements continue to morph. Global Mobility isn’t about the job, it’s about the life of the employee and the employee’s loved ones.
  3. (C) Expectations – Corporations, assignees, family members, etc. all expect things to move fast and be able to turn on a dime. International assignments include multiple governmental elements (immigration, customs, tax, etc.) that move at a different pace and won’t always adapt to the needs/expectations of diverse talent and their living arrangements. Helping assignees and their loved ones navigate an incredibly complex world that isn’t as speedy, flexible or, at times or in places, as safe or welcoming as they would like it to be is one of the things that make Global Mobility fascinating, challenging and gratifying.

FEM: Why do you think (this issue) is such a challenge for Global Mobility and why is it important that the audience understand more about the debate?

MB: Global Mobility professionals need to understand more about the debate or they risk their business under-utilizing their capabilities and missing opportunities to enhance their employer’s global strategy while achieving sub-optimal results and declines in assignee satisfaction. One could use the phrase “Be valued or starve.” If a corporation sees Global Mobility as an administrative function that merely performs transactions or ensures compliance, it will under-resource the team leading to less favorable outcomes that, in turn, lead to fewer resources. The cycle is not a happy one.

FEM: What is the one message you hope delegates take away from your session?

MB: The importance of understanding the corporation’s culture, what it values most and how a Global Mobility professional can use that to elevate the understanding of the value Global Mobility brings to the organization.

FEM: Who would you recommend attend your session?

MB: Anyone who wants to be a part of building Global Mobility’s future instead of witnessing its past needs to take an active part in the evolution of Global Mobility’s role. Taking part in this session is a great first step on the journey.

Matt Burns, HR Operations Director, joined Lockheed Martin Corporation as the Director of International HR in May of 2005. He became Director of Global Mobility in November 2011, joined Global Strategic Operations and Initiatives in November 2013 and then transitioned to his current position in September 2014.

As HR Operations Director, Matt improves HR processes that support Lockheed Martin’s international workforce. For Matt’s first 8 years with the company he provided support to LM’s more than 3,000 international assignees in over 60 countries. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Matt served for 26 years in the U.S. Foreign Service, including assignments to Nicaragua, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, the Soviet Union, Italy and Israel. Matt worked at the State Department in positions like Senior Advisor to the CFO and Director of the Center for Administrative Innovation.

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