Name: Chad Sterling
Company: Altair Global
Altair Global, CEO; President and CFO (United States): 2003 – Present
Archon Group, Divisional Controller (United States): 2001 – 2003
The Associates, VP, Accounting (United States): 1990 – 2001
A: Like many of us in the mobility industry, I didn’t actually have a career in relocation in mind when I started all those years ago. I got my degree in finance and was lucky enough to be offered a job with a well-known organisation; The Associates, in the finance department supporting their governmental relocation business. I spent 11 years learning the ins and outs of the mobility industry, talent attraction, and the inner-workings of many corporate areas. When it came time to leave The Associates, my next job was not in the relocation arena, but as the controller of a global investment management firm. I was only there for a little more than two years, when I was approached by a trusted colleague about joining the Altair Global organisation. From my previous time in the industry, I knew of Altair and of the calibre of the company and people. I jumped at the chance to join and have never looked back.
A: Of course, I am very proud of the position I hold now. Being CEO of Altair Global is the highlight and pinnacle of my career. Being responsible for the global growth and strategic direction of this company has been an extraordinary experience; however, I truly feel that many of my accomplishments are due to managing and working with such an exceptional group of people at Altair. My long-term goal is to continue to drive growth and innovation at Altair by guiding us to become an experience management company – the best one in the industry.
A: To definitely do it! Global mobility, while not one of the more well-known industries, can provide such an expanded world view and a career trajectory that is exciting and full of learning opportunities. There are so many facets to relocation and mobility that lead to new areas of discovery all the time. We are continuously keeping pace with the needs of some of the most recognisable brands out there and when a tech company needs you to keep pace, you do it! Our people have unlimited potential to create the pathway to the career of their dreams.
A: Just like many others, the relocation and mobility industry has faced significant change throughout the years and is evolving to keep pace with the needs of global organisations, shifting business and political climates, and most importantly the advent of new generations and demographics in the workplace. Since mobility is focused on the people, the industry has also morphed from a one-size-fits-all mentality to more tailored, customisable programs that speak to individuals’ needs – wherever they are in life and whatever is most important to them.
In the industry’s infancy, we honestly had one goal and that was just to get a person to a new location. Now, we are looking at the journey of employees in a more holistic manner, taking into account how to keep them working and productive throughout the move, how to best maximise services to enhance their personal relocation or assignment, and then, how to capitalise on the experience and knowledge gained to assist in the next stage of their career. This big picture lens helps us as a company also consider more than just how one service is delivered, but for Altair Global, we are now hyper-focused on managing the overall experience that our company provides from our team members and technology to our partners and processes. From start to finish, we want to ensure that each interaction, in every moment that matters, is spectacular. Like some of the best-known brands in the world, Altair Global is and has been entrenched in a multi-year Experience Management (XM) initiative that is transforming our company and that will shape our company strategy for years to come. We have made a significant investment in transitioning our definition of “quality” and are excited about where this XM focus will take us.
A: Currently, the political climate and sweeping changes within our global dynamics are the most pressing issues. Topics like tax reform, immigration, and Brexit are not only influencing our industry but directly impacting how the mobility industry functions. As strong and loyal supporters of Worldwide ERC, EuRA, ARP, Expat Academy, and many other dedicated mobility organisations, Altair Global is helping advocate and drive change for our industry through our participation in legal forums and committees for all mobility-related topics. We have a vested interest in making sure that our industry not only survives the dynamic conditions we are in but thrives to come out stronger in the end.
Additionally, we also know that the war for talent doesn’t only exist for our clients. We are facing real issues with driver shortages in the household goods industry and diminishing talent available to replace those who retire. We have to keep innovating to keep relocation relevant and to attract new talent who may not plan on a career in mobility. As a part of succession planning for the long-term, Altair has developed strong ties with local colleges and a stellar intern program to keep bringing in the best and brightest minds to our company and industry.
A: For our clients and all HR departments, the most important consideration is ultimately, just use what works best for your needs. With varying policies, volumes, and cultural needs, there is no hard-fast answer that works for everyone. With that being said, as a mobility department and program grows, the added complexity of global requirements, regulations, and compliance begins to dictate the usage of a solid mobility software platform. It is just imperative that it aligns with support from a top relocation management company and provides integration capabilities for data integrity purposes.
For the technology that we use to support our clients, there are no doubt great software companies that focus on providing software and technology specifically for the mobility industry. Altair Global, in fact, uses several of them. We are led by a visionary CTO who keeps us abreast of the most innovative options out there and in all scenarios, Altair Global considers a “core versus non-core” mentality whereby any technology supporting our core functions comes directly from us. Although we are not a true technology company, many of our systems are completely proprietary and have been developed internally. We want to always keep in mind that there are systems on the market that are considered “best of breed” and world-class leaders in their market, for those areas, we would always want to capitalise on that specialty. Case in point, our new experience management platform is one area where we partnered with one of the most recognisable XM brands in the market. Since we would not be in a position to create that type of system ourselves, it made sense to add that platform to our technology stack. However, when it comes to relocation, having the ability to drive our own tech roadmap and timeline is a huge benefit. We do not have to wait for bug fixes or the rollout of the next version as we control that ourselves. Since we support some of the largest tech firms in the world, our goal is to always remain open to modernisation and to continue to track our progress alongside theirs.
A: The future of mobility is no doubt going to be a great place to be. We have seen continual movement toward more personalised benefits for each employee and I see that only continuing. Just like with our everyday interactions and needs, mobility is moving toward an omnichannel environment where employees will manage their moves in the way that best suits them:
The more we can customise the benefit to the need and the delivery of service to the preferred channel of communication as well as right-time the delivery of information to the exact moment it is needed and consumed, the better we become. Pushing for innovation in our approach is key to improving and driving the type of change that matters to the end customer, which of course provides improved acceptance and retention rates across the entire mobility program.
Further, with more and more predictive and behavioural analytics available to assist and guide program managers in their role, we better prepare the organisation to expand the role of global mobility in the overarching talent acquisition and management objectives.
A: With new demographics of employees coming into the workforce, companies are continuously adjusting to the changing personas of the relocating employee. The most important improvements in mobility practices are simply to listen to what your employees want, balance that with the talent management goals of the organisation and work with a relocation management company with the expertise to deliver the perfect blend of cost efficiency, compliance and stellar customer experience.
As previously mentioned, Altair has been invested for more than two years in a transition to become an experience management focused organisation. We have implemented a killer technology platform, made staffing and organisational shifts, developed completely revamped internal customer service training and made monumental changes in our processes surrounding gathering and acting upon customer feedback. As we embrace experience management to gain a better understanding of our customers, our ability to deliver personalised experiences and enhanced customer journeys to talent on the move increases. Additionally, we continue to introduce more self-service tools for both clients and customers providing the ability to manage moves in the manner that best suits their needs.
A: There are so many things that are impacting and shifting the direction of our industry, some I have already mentioned such as Brexit and the household goods driver shortage, but there are also things like GDPR, the movement to a gig/sharing economy, generation Z, and artificial intelligence that while emergent now, could hold great changes for the very future of this industry. It is an exciting and exhilarating time always trying to prepare for and predict the next wave of change. However, as much as things change, one thing always remains the same and that is the human element and the personal impact of what we do. We want to develop top-notch technology and tools but always strike the necessary blend of having someone that understands what our customers are going through to provide that feeling of quintessential support. We will always have change in such a global, multi-faceted business – the key is to always remember that we always have been and always will be a ‘people’ business.
Ultimately, Altair is poised to take on each and every new challenge and opportunity that we face through flexibility, creativity, and a true sense of partnership. We have amazing people who truly care about the clients and customers that we support. In the end, our team members and our culture have always been our biggest differentiator and will continue to drive our success into the future.