Relocation: Maximising Investment and Minimising Risk

Most Australian executives or leaders in their profession would expect to spend some part of their career in an offshore or interstate location.  While to some this may seem like an exotic lifestyle, the impact on partners and children in addition to the time and cost can be disruptive and distracting at best and at worst may put the success of the move at risk.  For these reasons organisations are increasing looking to experts to ensure that everything about a relocation is taken care of enabling the appointee to hit the ground running and quickly integrate into the local community.

We spoke to Kathy Nunn, founder of Elite Executive Services to gain an insight into her industry and found that it is often the little things that make all the difference.

Kathy can you start by giving us an overview of the role of a relocation organisation.

Essentially it covers everything that is involved in taking someone from one country or one state to another – flights, car hire, hotels, short and long term accommodation, schools, meet and greet, utilities, telecoms, motor vehicle, removal and storage.  But most important and beyond the practical, it is providing a sounding board, a contact and a link to enable individuals and families who are coming to a new country or city to quickly feel at home.  We put them in touch with other like-minded people, social and often business networks.  Our business is certainly global, we have moved people to every city in Australia and to places in Europe, Asia, America, Africa and countries as far flung as Mongolia and Kazakhstan.

In your experiences, what are the greatest barriers to people considering a relocation or accepting an offshore/interstate position?

In coming to Australia, the two key barriers are the high cost of living (particularly impacting on rent) and the geographic position of Australia.  We are perceived to be remote and thus the travel distance can be a problem.  Concern for elderly parents means that people often feel they want to be an 8 hour flight rather than a 24 hour flight away.  If they have small children, they will be concerned that they will grow up away from grandparents and that support structure.  Technology can help but it doesn’t solve the problem.  What we can do, however, is show them that they can live here and still keep up with their relationships, be in contact and can get back relatively easily if necessary.  Often our work is about alleviating fears.

What are some of the trends in executive relocations?

Relatively short term contracts of around six months seem to be in favour at present.  Over the past few years we have also seen a decline in the benefits associated with expat relocations.  We are seeing more movements to Australia from Asia or people coming from other parts of the world to Australia via Asia. Certainly less executive relocations from the US and South Africa as compared to the past.

We all have a view of what makes Australia a great country in which to live but in your experience, what really attracts people here?

The feeling of space in this country really attracts people, especially from Asia.  We are perceived to be a clean country, safe and with a high class education system.  People who relocate here often mention the feeling of being part of a very cosmopolitan and friendly society and regardless of where they come from they don’t feel like outsiders.  It is vibrant yet not too busy. 

What advice would you give to an organisation who is considering relocating an employee or future employee?

If the person has children you need to have a conversation about education and their expectations very early on.  It is vital that both the employee and their partner gets out to the future destination – I believe an orientation trip is essential.  While it is possible to do this in a short amount of time, the more time you have the better.

If you were speaking with someone considering relocation – what advice would you give them?

Do your homework!  That is the most important thing.  Put in the time and effort to find out about the destination, what is your budget, what is the employer paying for.  Be smart about removals.  You don’t need to move everything – for instance, today it is cheaper to leave many big electronic items behind and buy cheaper versions when you arrive.  If you are being given an allowance, look at the flight times.  Maybe by booking a different carrier, route or time you can save some money and that can add up if you are moving a whole family.

And finally, I am sure you have some amusing stories of relocations: can you share one with us?

We were relocating a senior academic and his wife to Melbourne and they were arriving very late one night and were to go straight to their new house.  When we went to collect the keys from the agent in the morning to go and put in all the furniture, we found the floor was being lacquered that day and they could not use the house for 24 hours.  The couple were in transit and we had no way to contact them so we put all the furniture in the garage, including the made bed and fully stocked fridge.  They arrived to a note and instructions on how to operate their ‘house in the garage’.  They thought it was very funny and indeed, the wife is now one of our consultants!

About Kathy Nunn

Elite Executive Services was established by Kathy Nunn to address a need for a service which genuinely recognised that each relocation is different and that all relocatees have differing expectations. Elite provides specialist services to both corporate clients and private individuals and ensures each maximises their chance of achieving a successful relocation. Elite currently operates in Australia, India, UK, Malaysia, South Africa, Hong Kong, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.  For further information refer to 
www.eliteexecutiveservices.com.au

Rohan A. Carr
March 2015

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