Extended StayLifestyle

Changing times and overcoming mobility challenges

Quest Global Account Manager, Chloe Mason sat down with Sarah Coop, Global Mobility Manager from BECA to discuss the ins and outs of her role and how the global pandemic has affected BECA and their mobile workforce.

Q. Sarah coop is a global mobility professional with over 11 years experience with Beca. Tell us a bit about your role: 

My team's involved in activities ranging from bids, for projects, to looking at risks and a new location or managing an assignment from end to end and the role talent mobility plays in our employee life cycle. 

Q. How has the pandemic impacted Beca and your mobile workforce?
Very significantly. We at Beca, we have a core of more domestic work in our main locations, but  international projects are a part of our DNA here. For employees the opportunity to work on international projects sometimes in more far-flung destinations is a very much part of our culture. Having that sort of suddenly and drastically cut back has been very significant, I think for our whole company. And we also have really high numbers of business travellers proportionate to the size of our company. So lots of people were brought home at very short notice.

We are starting now to get more inquiries about him moving people around. So I think things are sort of starting to open up a bit more. We're sort of getting some from say, people who are stuck in Melbourne, who'd like to come back to New Zealand, which might be their home from either with us or prior to us or to resource projects we'd previously committed to, or even in some instance of some new projects that have come up. 

Q. What role did a mobility supply chain have in supporting Beca implement its duty of care obligations in this time? And can you provide an example of one of these?
I think the role of the specialist vendor has been vital for us. We relied heavily on our providers and we still do, as we seek up to date information on border closures, wellbeing, safety, concerns etc. 

I think what makes a really good vendor relationship comes down to understanding how each business operates.

Q. What have been your key learnings from the past six months in the environment that we've been through and what will you take forward in your mobility program for years to come?
The main thing I feel I've learned over the last six months is what we're all capable of when pushed. Everyone I've worked with has put their best foot forward for lack of non a cliche way of saying that and genuinely kept what's best for our employees. There's safety and wellbeing at the forefront of their mind and decisions are made on that basis. Another key learning for me has been how important clear communication can be.
Q. I'm sure that you, throughout your career, you've been inspired by someone or something what's inspired you most recently in your role.
Our prime minister in New Zealand here is pretty inspirational. She's not too much older than me. She became one of the youngest leaders in the world. She had a baby while she was in office, not long after she was in office and she leads with compassion and kindness quite intentionally. 

Q. Looking forward in your role, what would you say are the top three objectives you'd like to achieve in the next 12 months at Beca?
I think there's a real opportunity. My top objectives would be to improve communication. Whether that be around roles that are available or how mobility can support our business, I think there's plenty of room to improve in that space. I think I could really streamline some of the areas of our policy and process that are pain points for our employees. So just trying to make things you know, a bit easier for them. 

Q. If you had a crystal ball, what do you think global talent mobility will look like in five years time for Beca? And I guess the industry as a whole.
I think It's got to look quite different. People starting to talk about virtual assignments more so in my mind, I think in five years, these could almost become the norm. And perhaps physically going somewhere will become secondary rather than sort of being present virtually. Then I can picture that maybe a sort of more typical assignment might be someone visiting a location for a shorter period, if we can, and then heading back to their home. And you might work the hours of the host location possibly. But just from wherever it is that you live with your family and just become part of that team wherever it is. So that's my guess, but you know, who would have guessed would be where we are today.


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