i’m moving on

Hm, I can’t believe it’s almost a month since I last posted an entry here. Busy? You could say that again. One of my teammates went on a week-long vacation so I had to back up for her. Then the weeks after were filled with meetings and calls and issues… Ha! Di bale. By December, I’ll be on vacation for three weeks! Revenge is so sweet. 🙂

What is it exactly that I do? I work for a relocation company.

As a matter of course, big companies have offices in different countries. Most of the time, they need to move people  for several reasons: to train people, to utilize a person’s expertise, to assist in setting up a new office or project, to fill up a position which cannot be filled by a local, or it may be a company strategy. Sometimes, it may just only be because the person requested for the transfer.

Once a transfer has been approved by the company, they seek our services to coordinate the entire move. We manage the person’s work permit application, shipment of household goods, homesearch in the receiving country, school search if they have children and if education is supported by the company, tax consultation, arranging hotel or serviced apartment stay if needed, language lessons and cultural awareness trainings. Basically, we try to address most of the needs of the transferee and his/her family as they move. We coordinate everything so that the transferee could focus more on his/her work and productivity is not negatively affected even during the relocation process.

In short, we absorb other people’s stress.

Just to be clear, I don’t do the legwork. The way this is set up, we have   vendors for each of those services we provide. We have     an immigration consultant, a contact from a shipping company, a tax   consultant etc. Most of the time, the transferees also liaise with these     people directly. But our role is to oversee the entire process to ensure      that everyone does their work accurately and on time and to make sure  that the transferee’s needs are communicated to the right people and    these needs are addressed.

In short, we can be mean slave drivers. 🙂

It may not be that difficult to arrange one move. You just need to check with the different contacts once in a while, follow-up here and there, make sure that the documents or information needed by one party is given to the other, or handle some last-minute changes at times. But try to manage 30-50 moves at any one time at different stages. And even if you’ve completed one move, the number is still replenished because transfers are always initiated. Add to that the ongoing services if it is part of the contract with the client (such services include monitoring the validity of the person’s work permit, taking care of housing and school payments, reimbursing expenses that are supported by the company, or helping them if they have housing issues).

Then of course, while doing all of these, you have the company’s relocation guidelines or policies to implement. As much as we want to give all that the transferee needs, there are still rules to follow. So you have to balance the needs of the transferee against the company’s resources, what it considers reasonable, and what it has decided to be the extent of its support.

It is an interesting job. As they say, each move is unique. Each transferee has unique needs. So aside from learning more about the countries where the transferees are moving from and to, this job enables a person to interact with different people, from all nationalities and backgrounds, from new managers to senior company officers.  You begin to see what things are most important to most people.

But it can be really exhausting – mentally, emotionally and physically. On a bad day, you’ll get different complaints, hear a lot of dissatisfaction, encounter problems that you and the vendors have not foreseen and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t please the client.  And if you become careless, it can cost the transferee something really big. They don’t get a house on time, they can’t find a house they like, they are moving to the assignment location but their children still have not been enrolled and no school can accommodate them, the country does not recognize the partner as the transferee’s dependent, the assignee got the wrong work permit, he/she needs to vacate the house tomorrow and you were only told today…. Most of the time, I dread reading the emails or answering the phone.

But there are also some people who make it all worthwhile.  There are transferees who really express their gratitude and they go to different lengths to make sure that your efforts are recognized. They don’t consider you as a mere assistant or a slave, but they also treat you with respect and as an equal. Some transferees remember us during the holidays. They send gifts, send a greeting, invite you to lunch or dinner, send you pictures of their family or ask their children to call you tita. But this kind of transferee can be rare.  Most of the time, they just see the process as a series of transactions.

It can be very processed-based, but in the end, this work is all about people. That’s what I have to remind myself everyday. These people are undergoing what is said to be one of the most stressful events that can happen in one’s life. They are uprooting themselves and their families to go to somewhere unfamiliar. Well yeah, it doesn’t hurt that they have big salaries and generous company benefits. But still, it’s a big change.

relocate home

So we have to be very careful, very sensitive and very, very, very patient.

Hm, easy to say, but most of the time, so hard to do. Wait ’til I tell you stories about the transferees I manage. 🙂

*photo credits: Katarzyna-z, Relocation 911


~ by moonsparks on October 22, 2009.

8 Responses to “i’m moving on”

  1. naku, mahirap kalaban ang stress! Pero parang interesting yung work mo ahihihi

    • yep. pero mahirap i-explain. usually pag tinatanong ako, sinasabi ko, relocation consultant pero this is met with a blank stare. so sinasabo ko na lang HR. hahaha.

  2. Time really has changed. Masyado ng complicated ang buhay that everything and everyone is specialized like your work. I didn’t know that there are people whose job is to make thinks smooth for someone who is transfering from one country to another, one job to another, one culture to another. But I think your clients consist only of upper management personnels.

    • depende rin sa client. may iba kasi na kahit new managers or parang mga management trainees nila, pinapadala na nila for international assignments.

      natuwa ako sa observation mo. 🙂 oo nga no? ganito na ka-komplikado ang buhay? who would’ve thought 20-30 years ago na magkakaroon ng ganitong trabaho later on?

  3. A transfer to another place is not only the physical movements of stuff so it’s really stressful. A lot of things have to be considered and several tasks to do/complete in a limited time.

    • true! kaya stressful kasi you have to consider everything. minsan nga, may mga clients na gusto pa ata omniscient o prescient ka. haha. 🙂

  4. “They are uprooting themselves and their families to go to somewhere unfamiliar.”

    As you point out…they receive big salaries… lot of perks…benefits, etc.
    They should be happy that someone takes care of their problems…

    • you would think. haha. but the interesting thing is, most of them seem unsatisfied with what they are given and they demand and demand and demand.

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