Helping Expatriates get off on the right foot

16 November 2008

Relocating is about more than moving boxes and changing time zones. It’s about starting over. It’s about finding a new home, new school, new friends and learning to live in an unfamiliar environment. Crown Relocations understands this and its entire service range is aimed at one thing: making the expatriate’s transfer as smooth as possible.

"By offering our clients’ a range of relocation services in addition to our household goods & moving services, we make sure that the transferees will hit the ground running when they arrive at their destination." commented Carol-Ane Pugh, Account Manager at Crown Switzerland. "The assistance we provide goes far beyond the assistance a traditional moving company would offer. The range of relocation services complements the traditional moving services, and helps transferees with all arrangements that need to be made when they are relocating abroad. Whether it concerns immigration issues, intercultural training, or the search for a new home and a new school, Crown Relocations will be able to assist the transferee and the accompanying family. This is Crown’s way of ensuring that the transition is made as easy as possible, and that the transferee is a productive employee as soon as possible after his or her arrival.", Ms Pugh continued.

Crown is capable of offering these services throughout the world, thanks to its network of over 100 wholly-owned offices spread over more than 40 countries, including 3 offices in Switzerland. Crown serves Swiss and international businesses throughout the country.

Offering relocation services is very important to the expatriate’s employer, as well as for the expatriate and his or her family. When relocating, the expatriate needs to find a new home, obtain the necessary paperwork and ship personal effects to name just a few challenges. Finding the right way of going about this is not always an easy thing to do when you don’t know much about the local community rules and regulations for example. Crown’s experts are made up of people local to the community as well as expatriates, which ensures that the expatriate will receive the appropriate assistance from departure until arrival, and even beyond that through ongoing support services.

Offering the tools to build success in the long run
The importance of the assistance Crown offers becomes even greater when you take into into account issues that extend beyond these initial vital aspects, like the cultural challenges a newcomer faces upon his or her arrival in their new host country. By offering intercultural training Crown gives the expatriate the necessary tools to be successful in their new environment on the long term.

Rather than focusing on general knowledge of the new culture, Crown’s customized intercultural services help transferees and their families identify local behaviors, understand communication styles, explore coping mechanisms and learn adaptation skills.

All transferees need these tools to become a successful member of their new professional environment. This does not mean however, that they are the same for every expatriate. Crown recognizes this, and makes sure that the intercultural training it offers is tailor-made to the individual.

For example, taking into account the growing number of female expatriate managers worldwide, tailoring this service to the specific needs of every transferee becomes even more important. All transferees need a full course of country-specific information, training in culture and communication skills and preparation for adjustment issues, regardless of gender. But cross-cultural trainers need to take into account the way a woman’s overseas experience differs from a man’s in order to contribute fully to the success of the woman’s assignment. Research strongly supports the necessity of understanding gender issues in international moves.

What Women Want

* Psychological research shows that, compared to men, women tend to be especially good at non-verbal communication; at understanding subtle power hierarchies; and at developing consensus in groups. In navigating any new culture, these skills are critical to success. Bringing them to the surface prepares women to use them to their advantage.

* Research also shows that women are likely to be the relationship tenders in their respective families and workplaces. Highlighting common family reactions, role changes and relationship tensions before they happen can prepare women to foresee and deal with them effectively.

* Finally, research on female expatriate managers shows that they tend to be successful, despite dire predictions that gender discrimination will interfere with their ability to work effectively in a new country. An explanation for this is that in some cultures, nationality and job status trump gender. Preparing for how gender discrimination might - and might not - occur can get women transferees off on the right foot.

Female Transferees Talk

Crown’s own expatriate women share their experiences and suggestions

My difficulties stemmed from being a single transferee more than from being a female transferee. There was not enough time to get everything done - finding somewhere to live, starting a new job and getting to know people, even figuring out where to buy things. Because I had to work and travel so much, it was really a challenge. Being a woman in a male-dominated industry moving to the US culture, which seemed to have a slightly different attitude towards professional women, provided some challenges. If anyone else asks me if I have transferred with my husband’s job, or where is he anyway - I’ll scream.
- Norah Franchetti
Group Vice President Training, transferred from London, UK to Los Angeles, USA

I faced challenges, not as a female, but as a mother and wife - taking into account [relocation issues facing] the whole family at the same time. It is very difficult, when coordinating the timing of transfers, to suit your spouse’s job and children’s schooling. It would help if more people accepted that the woman can be the transferee and that you are not just in the host country because of your husband’s work. Most people you meet give their business cards to your husband, which can be frustrating.
- Kathy Scalabre
Country Manager, moved from Milano, Italy to Seoul, Korea

I can’t recall any issue I’ve had in relocating that has related directly to my gender. Except, perhaps, for the assumption that all women expats are accompanying spouses, making some of the services not entirely appropriate [or more diffi cult to participate in]. For example, what good is a coffee morning to me when I’m stuck in the office with the boys? But I don’t feel that I have missed out on anything my male colleagues have enjoyed.
- Laurie Hibbert
Regional Human Resources Manager, transferred from Hong Kong to Rotterdam, the Netherlands