Name: Sean Collins
Job: Managing Partner
Company: Talent Mobility Search, Talent Mobility Asia
Crown Worldwide, Sales Manager (North China): 1997-2000
Crown Worldwide, Regional Corporate Services Director (SEA and India): 2000-2006
Microsoft, Mobility Program Manager (Greater China): 2006-2011
Microsoft, Mobility Program Manager (APAC, India & Japan): 2011-2014
Talent Mobility Asia, Founder: 2014-Present
Talent Mobility Search, Managing Partner: 2015-Present
Q: So, why global mobility and how did you get started?
A: I got into global mobility by chance. I had just returned from travelling around the world, and saw an advert for a job with a relocation company as part of their management trainee program, with classroom based training in Australia, followed by an assignment to one of their offices around the world. I thought; “Fantastic! Another opportunity to travel again”. Following the training in Australia, I was seconded to China, and basically stayed in Asia ever since. That was my entry into mobility and I’ve never looked back.
Q: Has your own experience as an expat contributed to your work in global mobility?
A: Yes, absolutely! For one, it allows me to empathise with the challenges and issues of assignees and transferees, but also, the intercultural awareness I’ve learned from working across different cultures has been a huge asset working in this very global industry.
Q: What is 'business as usual' like for your company?
A: For us, it's all about staying connected in the industry. For TMS our brand is all about being thought leaders in the industry, understanding the senior roles we source for and having a really strong network of the best talent within the industry. This allows us to consult to our clients on their talent strategy and match up great talent to their critical roles. Our normal day is basically connecting and with clients and peers and understanding their business or strategies, or the issues they're going through. On the candidates side it could be career coaching and helping candidates take the next step in their career.
Q: Are there any differences in the way you’re managing Talent Mobility Search now that you’ve expanded your services to bigger regions such as Europe and the US?
A: Not really, we're doing the same thing that we've always done, which is consulting with our clients on their talent strategy and then connecting them to the best talent in the market, and that’s constant across all regions. The only difference is understanding the different employment nuances in different countries and how that impacts recruitment. With our global reach, we are now able to discuss sourcing and talent pipelining on a global basis, so thats been a great development
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to build a career in global mobility?
A: I would say, always look to up-skill and educate yourself, especially around technology and business acumen. The industry is evolving and the skill sets and competencies required in the future may be different to what we typically see in mobility today. Be open to new opportunities and diverse experiences, that will help differentiate yourself from others. We always encourage candidates to be aware of their personal brand and give support to help them strengthen that and stand out in the industry.
Q: How do you think the global mobility Industry has changed over the years?
A: The industry has continued to evolve as the complexity and volume of mobility has increased, with companies looking at their mobility teams to drive solutions and provide the same level of strategic advisory as other support functions within the organisation. Service providers have also evolved to offer more outsourced solutions, and technology has led to a great deal of automation and reporting of data. This has allowed the more pioneering mobility teams to focus their energy on partnering with the business and HR on their talent agenda and providing data and insights to support strategic decision making.
Q: What aspect of global mobility is likely to keep you up at night?
A: Only my son keeps me up at night!
Q: What's the one thing hindering the global mobility industry's progress in Asia?
A: I believe Asian companies have still yet to fully mature and evolve their global mobility function, although I see this slowly changing. Large Asian MNCs, as they acquire and grow their global footprint, are starting to realise the importance of mobilising talent and having a policy and the expertise to manage this. There is also an awareness around the need to develop global leadership skills amongst Asian leaders, thus more attention to executive assignments designed to nurture intercultural leadership skills and a global mindset.
Q: How does Talent Mobility Search’s services compare with other leaders in this industry?
A: We are different to the other mobility recruiters as each of the partners has held senior roles in the industry either on the provider side or managing mobility programs in house. We are therefore in a position to be able to consult to clients on their talent mobility strategy and coach candidates on their career. With approximately 20 years of experience with each of the partners we have also built incredible networks of peers within our industry, being able to connect with the best talent in the market.
Q: What is the most important strategic tip you can give to companies handling global mobility?
A: I would recommend to leverage technology to automate where you can and outsource the elements of your program where the expertise lies with providers, and not try to build the competencies in-house. That should free up more time to be collaborative with your business clients and HR and add more strategic value.
Q: What kind of tech or software would you suggest for global mobility processing?
A: There are many great software tools out there now serving the mobility industry, I would suggest reviewing which one is best for your organisation and making the investment.
Q: What's your personal take on diversity and inclusion and what do you think business leaders need to understand about this?
A: It’s clear how more successful companies are that embrace diversity and inclusion (D&I). Within our industry, I think there is a huge opportunity to leverage D&I talent pools. Female representation on assignment has been historically low, although we see that changing, especially where companies are providing more flexible approaches to different family situations. The LGBT workforce has also been underrepresented, with barriers to mobility around immigration, support networks as well as employees having to provide personal information that effectively outs their sexuality in a mobility situation. Companies need to have the right support mechanisms and vendors in place to build solutions to support this group and companies need to be more supportive and open to LGBT employees.
Q: What more can be done to improve current global mobility practices to benefit talents on the move?
A: I believe a lot more can be done on the mobile platform to support talent on the move, from having the right information, access to support and tracking of data and processes on-the-go, to duty of care and compliance tracking.
Q: What are the developments you currently see in the industry?
A: Recent political developments have caused concern for the movement of talent around the world, with several countries moving to a more protectionist stance and tighter immigration restrictions. If this trend continues then mobility functions will need to be more creative to support business needs, either through different forms of mobility, or moving jobs to people.