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Bettina Tang, Global Mobility Advisor, Owner at Go Global HR Advisory B.V.

About this Episode

Bettina Tang

Global Mobility Advisor, Owner at Go Global HR Advisory B.V.

Bettina Tang is one of the most well-known names in Global Mobility consulting. She has a particular focus on holistic Global Mobility Management combining strategic business needs with organizational and people related elements to ensure operational delivery. Tang teaches International HR & Global Mobility at Erasmus University, Rotterdam and at Expatise Academy. During her impressive career Bettina has worked with a wide selection of blue-chip organizations including Deloitte, Borealis, Novo Nordisk, Schneider Electric, Booking.com and several more.

In this in-depth interview, Bettina discusses her big jump to independence and how this helped her to get an overall understanding of how global mobility works; explains why global mobility is both a profession and an industry; discusses the benefits of teaching global mobility as the people can get a holistic view of the industry and stresses the importance of building relationships.

Full Transcript

Brian Friedman: Hello, and welcome to The View From The Top podcast, brought to you by Benivo. My name is Brian Friedman and I'm the Strategy Director of Benivo, the world's leading, welcome as a service, mobility tech company. My guest today, on The View From The Top, is Bettina Tang, who is very much a leading light in the European global mobility community. A native of Copenhagen, Bettina took a degree in law before joining the Danish tax office. She entered global mobility via the tax department of Deloitte, before moving on to various in-house roles. Bettina has led the mobility function at such well-known Scandinavian companies as Borealis, Novo Nordisk, and Carlsberg. Now based in Amsterdam, Bettina has struck out on her own as an independent mobility consultant. And she has an impressive roster of clients including such household names as Maersk, Booking.com and AkzoNobel. She is also an enthusiast for the mobility profession and teaches global mobility at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and also at the Expatise Academy. So Bettina, welcome to The View From The Top. And congratulations on your impressive achievements in your career to-date.

Bettina Tang: Thank you Brian for inviting me to View From The Top. I'm very honored to be here today.

Brian Friedman: Well it's certainly great having you on the podcast. So Bettina, before we really get into the meat of some of the issues facing the industry, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your current roles, plural, in terms of what you're doing today?

Bettina Tang: Yes, so as you already mentioned, I'm an independent global mobility advisor. I've been doing that for six years, now based in Amsterdam. As you mentioned, I have been really fortunate to work with some really great and international companies, and also, doing my passion as teaching with Erasmus and Expatise Academy. So I started my career in tax, so that's my backbone of global mobility. And then, I, sort of after ten years of tax, asked myself, you know, there must be more to life than tax. So I shifted into compensation benefits which also included global mobility, which then brought me to Vienna, so I also got some international experience there. Then for personal reasons, I returned to Denmark, headed up Novo Nordisk and then I took the big jump to independence. So I basically, I've been working on different sides of the table. Both as civil servant, consultant, and in-house. And that has really helped me get an overall understanding of how global mobility works.

Brian Friedman: What would you say is the difference between those three areas? You said civil servant, in-house, and a consultant. What do you see as the difference between them and indeed, which do you prefer?

Bettina Tang: Well they're all very interesting. I enjoy all of them, but probably I've been docking out to work as a consultant, but actually I do in-house work. So it's kind of a mix now, what I'm doing when I do the interim in-house head of mobility jobs. So civil servant is very much like there are a set of rules that you have been set to call on. And there are some politics behind the rules that are made because the politicians want to guide the population in a certain direction and your job is to try and do that. So when I then went to the consultant side, then there's suddenly a client that you have to service. So obviously the clients that we had at Deloitte, they wanted to be compliant, they wanted to be following the rules. But they also had a business. They also had to make money and find ways of working. And sometimes you then needed to find ways where you kept compliant, of course, but you know, there were some gray zones where you could sort of help them find solutions that could work for them. And then being an in-house person, then goes even further because there you really have the business to consider, who are very focused on building a revenue, growing a business and cost consciousness obviously the last couple of years. So taking that balance of being compliant, governing the rules, the policies that the ex-com have signed off on, and still finding flexible solutions that can not be perceived as an obstacle to the business, so that the business can still make money and do what they want to do. And that is sometimes a fine balance. So I'd say that's the key difference.

Brian Friedman: I have heard some people describe mobility as the function that says no.

Bettina Tang: Yeah.

Brian Friedman: The line turns 'round and says we need to move somebody from country A to country B, get him there. And then it's our role as a mobility professional to say, well actually it's not that simple. There is, you do need a visa if you're going to work somewhere and there are tax implications if you're going to work somewhere. And there are compliance, duty of care issues if you're going to work somewhere. How do you manage the pressure that you must be under with some of the large companies you've worked for, where the line wants you to do something, and actually the real answer is, mmm, I'm not so sure.

Bettina Tang: Yes, I can recognize that and I often hear, oh, don't go to mobility. They will just say no, work your way around it. And then they get into trouble. And then they come running, and then they want us to fix it. And that is sometimes the way you need to do it. Sometimes you need to have that burning platform and let them crash and burn. Because then they will understand the added value of what you're trying to explain to them. So it is about building relationship. Going out to talk to the person as explaining why it is that there are these rules and what the benefit is. And if they actually work together with you, that you can be more fast if they're aware, for example of the deadlines in immigration. You know, be up front with them so that they can plan their projects. There's nothing worth for a manager to have their project postponed because they didn't get the work permit. So, you know, they hate surprises. So work closely with them and tell them what is possible and find a solution that is workable. And yeah, sometimes you have to say no. So yeah, it is a balance to try to be the policeman, woman, of a certain set of rules. And then sometimes be solution-oriented. And that is a fine balance.

Brian Friedman: And I suppose sometimes the message to get across to the line is that the penalties for non-compliance can be pretty severe.

Bettina Tang: Absolutely.

Brian Friedman: Either in terms of financial risk, reputational risk, or even physical risk. I know, for example, in some countries the penalty for over-staying a visa can be a lashing. So, sometimes we can't muck around with these things.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, and I usually flag, if we have such cases, I usually flag it to them. But if you're in a company that haven't had these issues, or you know, they say, we'll just pay the penalty, then of course, it's more difficult. But if you have, especially something top management. If they're suddenly in jail in Pakistan or some of their employees are, then they suddenly realize, oh, actually what global mobility is saying is, you know, they do have a point. So you just have to find those, and flag them. That usually helps.

Brian Friedman: I think maybe as a profession, we ought to keep a horror story list we can all share with each other. I remember hearing one mobility director of another company, not one of yours, I must add, who turned around and secretly said she wished that one of her employees would get caught and get lashed because nobody would ever give her problems again.

Bettina Tang: Exactly.

Brian Friedman: She was joking, I must say. So tell me, just a bit more about yourself. We know that you joined, you got in the profession via the tax department of the Danish authorities, and indeed, I think that way of going into mobility via tax is a pretty well-trodden path, and indeed many of the guests on this podcast have gone down that route before. But, as you went into that route, what made you move from one to the other? What made you make the jumps between the different types of organizations?

Bettina Tang: I think from a tax perspective, I think I got a bit tired of doing just taxes. It was a really specialized area and I wanted to see things in a bigger context and understand how things worked. And then, I was like, so where do I go from here? And then I heard about compensation benefit and I was fortunately approached by a head-hunter from Borealis and I found, oh wow, this could be my stepping stone out of tax, because it was like 25 percent of my job was still global mobility and tax, so you know, I was on safe ground. I still had some building blocks there. And then there was this whole new world opening up with compensation benefit which was like, pay for performance and organizational structures and these kinds of things that were a black box for me, to be honest, when I was sitting at Deloitte and just doing tax memos and tax returns. So that was kind of, turned out to be a really good move to build on those stepping stones. And then, later when I went to Novo Nordisk that was really focused on key global mobility and I felt, I found out that compensation benefit was not my key interest. I thought global mobility was more fun. I really like the international aspects of it and I felt I was a little bit stuck behind an Excel sheet all day doing calculations and rewards. So I wanted out with talking to people again. So, then I was lucky to move into pure global mobility at Novo Nordisk, and then from there, I then realized I really like the consultancy part of it as well, and that's where I took the big jump to be an independent global mobility advisor.

Brian Friedman: Okay, when people talk about tax, or accounting, or legal, they talk about the tax profession, the accounting profession, the legal profession. But many people talking about global mobility talk about the global mobility industry. Do you think we're in an industry or profession?

Bettina Tang: Hm, I would hope both. Because I do think this is, you need special skills, competencies to do what we do. I mean we basically we do tax, we do legal stuff, we deal with contracts, we do calculations. We negotiate with providers and the business. We deal with people who are taken out of their comfort zones and thrown into new countries. So you really have a palette of a lot of different skills and I think that is a profession. And it's growing, right? It is growing and that's a good thing, so we do see, you know, relocation, the technology solutions, and all the support functions with language support and cultural support and spouse support and these kinds of things. So it is growing. And you can also see at the events that Evim have, they have a lot of different companies that also are expanding and getting broader and broader within what they do. So yeah, both, I would say.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and I know you're a very passionate believer in education in the mobility profession. And I know you teach at Erasmus University, which must be one of the few universities in the world that teaches global mobility. And also the Expatise Academy. Can you just tell us a little bit, a bit more about the teaching that they do there, that you do there, and indeed, what your views would be about how to raise the standard, the professionalism in mobility.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, so Expatise Academy and Enginche have done great work in trying to build education from fundamental courses, intermediate courses, and more, for more experienced courses. They actually developed the master course that was then handed over to the Erasmus University. And now being run by Erasmus and that you get your degree, master course degree, from Erasmus University. So, it has been really also promoting this over many, many years. It's a long haul, right? It takes a long time. And I think it is important that you can step in at different phases. Because depending on how you would jump into or fall into global mobility, you will have some gaps. So if you come from relocation, you maybe need some help with tax immigration. And if you come from tax immigration, you need maybe some reward or whatever. So it's different for everybody, because we each come from a different background. So you need to have the broader picture. And what Engus tried to do is to make sure you get everything that you go through everything and you understand each of these different elements so that you also get the holistic point of it. And I think that's really also what I'm enjoying at the master course because it's trying to elevate it and say, you know, there are all these different aspects that you need to know. And I don't expect you to know everything, but we can help you on that journey and build and fill out the gap that you may have. Can always take additional trainings. The big four and other companies, airinc and rose, so they also have courses and you can do that. But I think Expatise Academy is unique in the way that you can follow all the modules and go through the whole program and get that holistic view of global mobility. We think it's important that they understand how do we connect the dots. How does one thing lead into another. Doing a contract, how does reflect the way we pay people, the way we deliver it, how we support them practically and all these things and how that all reflects on basically helping the business, making sure you've got the right people in the right place at the right time at the right cost.

Brian Friedman: These courses are not aimed, correct me if I'm wrong, they're not aimed at junior people who just want to start in global mobility. They're aimed at people who've got experience as well.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, so it's at all levels. And that's why they have the fundamental, intermediate, and the master course. So you can step in at any level. So if you have several years of experience already as a manager, you don't have to necessarily take the fundamental and intermediary, you just can go into the master course. But if you're totally new to it and you say, I don't know nothing, then it's really good to start with the fundamentals and just take that. And of course it builds up and it goes through, the fundamentals we get very basic training and of course we expect more of you at intermediate and expect even more of you at the master course, of course. Because yeah, then you have more experience and you have higher expectations and it's different kind of level of discussions that we have. And you also build a great network because it's also become more and more international. They have international students there, so it's also you're also building an international network when you attend the courses.

Brian Friedman: Okay, let's move on. I know at the moment, you're working dependently, but you're also, if you like, semi-in-house, that you do a couple days a week with AkzoNobel. Could you tell us a little bit about the program that AkzoNobel has and some of the initiatives that you've been pushing through whilst you've been there?

Bettina Tang: So what I do as interim manager currently at AkzoNobel it's like I try to step in and see what are we doing, what's going on at the moment. And AkzoNobel has made two big transformations in one go, so they've changed tax provider and relocation provider.

Brian Friedman: At the same time?

Bettina Tang: At same time, at first of January.

Brian Friedman: Whoa.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, whoa. And those are two big providers because yeah, you know, they have systems, they have all the historical, they have all the files. So it's quite a transformation for them to do at the same time. And also they just went through a split up of the company, which they just, you know, came out of. And then they're doing this exercise. And of course, with continuous cost-consciousness, also. So it's a big exercise for them. And my role as interim, is then of course to make sure that everything runs smoothly and can jump in. And having done this so many times, I know exactly where the pain points are. I can ask all the nasty questions and make sure, have we done this, how have we dealt with this. Follow up on the different things. And of course it helps move forward the process and the permutation of it. Yeah, that's great fun for me.

Brian Friedman: And can you tell us a little bit about the program? How many moves do they do a year? How many locations?

Bettina Tang: Yeah it's not a huge program. They have a lot of local international hires. So it's a mix. Probably I shouldn't go too much into detail because of confidentiality issues, but it's a good size program and they have a mix of everything. And like everybody else, they also start to see the more complex issues with not pure assignment. But the virtual workers and people who work partly here and partly there. So they have all the complexities that everybody's dealing with. And trying to figure out where people are and making sure they're compliant, tax, social security, pension-wise, immigration-wise. They have all the complexities even though it's not a huge program. But yeah, medium sized, I would say.

Brian Friedman: And having gone through the two RFPs for the tax provider and the RNC provider, what are the main lessons that you've learned that you would pass on to other people going through a similar process at the moment?

Bettina Tang: Oh, in this particular case I was not part of the RFP, but of course, sometimes I am. So I think it's to be very clear up front in defining what your requirements are. And I think if you haven't done the process before, good to get professional help with this. That helps a lot. So Inex, so they hired another extern consultant who was a specialist in relocation and worked as a relocator for many years to help do the RFP process. Simply to really be clear on defining the requirements and really be up front, clear on what it is that you want. And then make the agreements, early stages and the implementation on how you're going to do things. And it might be very detailed work, but more time you spend on it up front, and during implementation, the smoother the process will be later on because you have managed expectation on what to expect as a client. But also what the provider can deliver and cannot deliver. So you know, build a partnership, be a partner with your provider. I think it's very key to success. Because most providers today are very professional, and I work with a lot of the relocation companies and tax providers and immigration providers. And they're only as good as the weakest point in the chain, as we say. So it's about having a good team and a good person to really work through the details and build relationship and find solutions that will help you in the long run.

Brian Friedman: So building relationships is pretty critical for you?

Bettina Tang: Yeah, I think so, yeah.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and what about the role of the mobility professional in-house, themselves? Do you think that mobility professionals are properly appreciated by the line these days? Do you think it's getting better or worse?

Bettina Tang: To be honest, I feel it's getting worse. I do feel that it's not appreciated enough. The complexity and the skills that the mobility professionals need in-house. I do see, okay, we'll just implement the technology and then everything is solved. Or, that the robots will fix everything. But you know, if you don't have your policies and processes in place, it's not going to work. It's like a calculator. You can't use a calculator if you don't know how to calculate. But I also see that job creating, sort of like, instead of directors, you hire senior managers, or even just managers. So, and you know with lower job grades, you have lower pay and then I think that's not fair to the profession, because it is very complex and it does take a lot of skill to do this job. So I'm a little bit sad to see that. That's also why I'm fighting passionately for it to be a profession and the teaching because I really do want it to be acknowledged by the business. That people get paid for what they do.

Brian Friedman: And how do you think technology is beginning to impact the mobility profession?

Bettina Tang: Oh I think it's going to be a big impact. And it already is. I can see more and more companies are implementing technology solutions. We'll never replace Excel, that will always be our preferred tool because it's just so flexible. But more and more companies are using technology and it is supporting the processes. Helping us with notifications and deadlines and tracking and history, retaining history and archiving it. And that's really great and there are some great systems out there. A lot of money has been invested by the providers in the market, and that's really great. And I do believe that it will help us because you know, if we can get rid of some of the operational work and still get the basics right, then there will be more time for us as mobility professionals to enhance the employee experience and the business experience. To go out and support the business. Providing statistics that can help more informed decisions and help the assignee have a good experience when they are having this international experience.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned the word experience. And gosh, I mean, I think I hear that word pretty much every day now, or every interview. People are talking about customer experience, employee experience and of course, in our world, increasingly about assignee experience. But what does it mean to you? What does employee experience mean, or assignee experience mean and what do you do to enhance it in your various roles?

Bettina Tang: Well I think it's important that the employee has a good experience because I think a happy employee is doing a happy good job. So I think it is important. It can be many ways. It can be self-service functions, which a lot of the technology solutions provide. Because that will give fast and transparent information whenever the employee is ready for it and has time for it. So that is a huge thing. Instead of pushing all this information through to them. Ideally they will have an experience where they will learn and develop while they are working internationally and that will support the business to grow. So yeah, of course it make sense that that is the buzzword. And I hope that on the backend of employee experience there will also be focus on supporting the employee's family, if they are accompanying them because I've seen that normally gets cut when there are cost cuttings, which is really a shame because you know, again, a happy employee, happy family. I think that the employee will do good work. So there are things that we can do. And that's why I also think the human touch is still important. So the technology can help us and support us a lot. But the human touch of making sure and the empathy that also goes into acknowledging that, you know, when you take somebody and move them from one country to another, or ask them to work in multiple countries, there is a level of frustration and out of comfort zone for them and that needs to be acknowledged. So I think the human touch is still important. But yeah, technology can help support a lot.

Brian Friedman: I was going to ask you about the biggest changes you've seen throughout your career. Appreciate that technology is going to be one of those changes. But what other changes have you seen during your career that you think are interesting trends?

Bettina Tang: Yeah, well technology is the biggest one. That is really... a lot of money has been invested and it does make a big difference. And that will continue. In the next 12 months and the next five to ten years, artificial intelligence will help us do things in a good way. So I think definitely, that is. But I don't think it will fully replace it. And it only works, as I said, if you know what you're doing. The biggest changes I have, I think I've covered it a little bit already, that whether global mobility is appreciated or not. There I see that maybe the complexity, maybe they understand the complexity, but the answer has been to out-source global mobility. And that may not be the solution. Because if you don't know what you're doing, then you can't out-source it. So I think maybe there is an awareness that it's complex, but the true complexity is not fully appreciated.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned out-sourcing and that's quite an interesting one. Because I think it's been sort of a bit of a fashion item, out-sourcing, where at some points, people say, oh we must do everything in-house. And then people say, no we need to out-source. And then they sort of bring it back in-house.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, it's a pendulum.

Brian Friedman: Where are you on that pendulum? Are you an out-sourcer or a do-it-in-houser?

Bettina Tang: I think I'm probably a little bit in the middle. I do think that out-sourcing can be a great value and if it's a small company with a small program you simply do not have the expertise in-house to run a really top professional mobility program. You need external help to guide you through it. If you have a huge program with 500 or 1000 expats, of course, yes, you can have more in-house and it does have a value because you have, as an in-house, more personal touch. You have more, you know, what's going on. So you know, it depends on the maturity on where you are in your global mobility journey. If you're new or in the middle or very mature. So it's difficult to say what is right or wrong. I can see pros and cons over both things. So I think it's really about figuring out as a company, where you are on the scale and what it is that you want to achieve. And how many resources you have for it. But you know, I don't mind personally, getting rid of all the operational stuff. That's not what I think is fun anymore. So you know, to have solutions for that, you can out-source that and then have time to spend with the business and support them. Personally, I think that's more fun. But it depends on where you are.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and let's look at the very near future. What would you say are your top three objectives for the next 12 to 18 months?

Bettina Tang: Well my focus is to follow the technology developments really closely because it's going really, really fast. Obviously I have the benefit when I work in-house to really work with the different providers and the different systems. So I really can see pros and cons and what works and not. So that's really nice and I can see a lot of focus on it from the providers which is really great. So I'm trying to keep on top of that. Then I want to continue to increase awareness of global mobility as a profession, raise the bar, which I do with my teaching. And then, I do as much networking as I can because that's also my chance to be inspired and learn new thingsand hear what's going on in global mobility, and talk to peers and share frustrations and laughs about our wonderful profession.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned the word inspired there and actually one of the questions I was going to ask you, which I didn't at the beginning, but I want to get back to, is who inspired you in your career? And I suppose inparticular, not so much who, but what sort of person, what did they inspire you with? What were the learnings? And as a follow up to that, what would be the lessons you'd pass on to other people starting in the profession today?

Bettina Tang: Well I would say the person who inspired me was Elsa Hamilton from Borealis, my boss. And the reason why is that she really opened my eyes and gave me a broader understanding how organizations work. So really kind of like how the different functions connect to each other. So how does reward impact pay and performance. How does an organization's structure, centralized versus de-centralized approach. The whole legal setup of businesses. Communication, how important it is how we communicate things.Business needs, how do we ensure that we actually build solutions that work for the business and not seen as obstacles. So I think that really opened my mind. And the lessons I want to pass on is, yeah, in global mobility, the devil's in the detail. And everybody working in mobility knows that because the majority of what we do is compliance issues. And you know, one little change whether you are a resident or sold your house or which nationality you have can make a big impact on whether you get a work permit or what your tax situation is. So we drown in this operational stuff. And I think sometimes I can be difficult to step back and go out and keep the bigger picture in mind and say, what is it we're actually trying to achieve here? Right, we're trying to support the business in getting the right people in the right place, the right time, the right process, I already mentioned. And keep that in mind to not get so into the daily work and operational works in the business. So taking the time out to talk to your key stakeholders on a regular basis to understand how you can best support them. But also, to share your world of complexity so they understand immigration, taxes, social security, pension, pay, benefits, relocation, cultural, language, spouse support, health and safety, blah, blah, blah. All these things that they understand, okay, why is it so difficult and why is it so important that there are deadlines and that they have to have certain information and all these things. So it's a dual way and that can really be difficult. Because that will help you if they better understand how you can add value and what you can do for them, they will come to you, beforehand, and avoid burning platforms. And keep updated on latest trends. Global mobility constantly evolves, constantly new things popping up. Build a good network with equal minded people to bounce off ideas and challenges, that's also really key because you will always have situations that you're going to not encountered before. I've been doing this for 25 years, I still have issues where like, oh, okay, that's a new thing I never heard before, which is fun, right, because you don't want to think you know it all. So basically, be curious. Be resilient, be patient. And have a thick skin. Because being global mobility is not a popularity contest. So we get a lot of things that we have to say no and push back and all these things. But it's also fun. So when you have an employee who's happy and appreciative and say, you really made this a great experience, yeah, that's worthwhile, all the pushing back and the nos.

Brian Friedman: Yeah because we always can be tempted to forget that what is a job for us is actually a very traumatic period of somebody's life. When they're effectively moving job and they're moving country and they're moving house, and indeed they're moving culture all at the same time.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, we're moving people and not machines. And we sometimes seem to forget that. So oh here's a contract and here's the pay and payroll and blah, blah, blah, and here's the relocator and go fix. But we're actually dealing with people which is also the fun part of it. But yeah, those frustrations also have to be acknowledged.

Brian Friedman: Okay well we're pretty much out of time, but there's just one last question I'll ask you before we finish up, which is this Bettina, if you had your time again, what if anything would you do differently? Would you sort of move, not go into a particular role, or would you start earlier in a different role, or would you have structured your career, or maybe not even gone into mobility at all? What would you have done differently, if you'd had your time again?

Bettina Tang: It's a really good question. Well generally I have to say, I'm very happy with my career. I had great fun trying out all these different things and sitting on different sides of the table. So it's always been challenging. Kind of like when I look at it now and look back, it looks like there was a red thread through my career. Now I can see it. But when I was young, I was just like, oh I'll do a little bit of this and then I try that. But actually I was building on the fundament. I kept building on and on and on so that turned out to be a really good plan. And I tried some stuff and I was like, no, I'm going back to global mobility because actually this is what I really enjoy. It's constantly changing, it constantly challenged me. I constantly have to stay on my toes. I can't lean back and say, oh I know it all. And I like that. I'm a naturally curious person. I want to learn. So it kind of built on that and I really like the internationality, being international, working with international people. I've been working with probably like, I don't know, 60 different cultures in all my career. It's just every time fun to work with people and try to understand how do I explain this to you with this baggage and this culture. So it's kept me on my toes and keep me challenged. And looking back, I don't know where I could've gone anywhere else. I probably could, but it has fulfilled that side of me. Maybe I would've stepped out of tax a little bit earlier, but yeah, otherwise, I'm also really happy that I have that strong fundament in tax and social security that I have because it's really helpful in global mobility. I'm not saying you have to have it, but yeah, it does take up a bit of the time.

Brian Friedman: I think most people do have, if you like, one core competence as their special skill. And then they move out to other areas. I know one of my previous guests from The View From The Top likened mobility to a decathlon. And said that every decathlete has got lots of different skills, but nonetheless they tend to have one event that they're best at.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, and I think part of what I do as an interim manager is to go out and look at the team and say what are your strengths and how do we build on that? So one is good at tax and one is good at people and one is good talking to the business and one is good at spouse support. How do we compliment each other? The best teams are where we have different skillsand we compliment each other and we work together in trying to make the best solutions. And I think when I look at people coming into mobility we have just come from so many different backgrounds and I think that's part of the fun. That gives that color to it. It also gives the frustration, hence you have to go to the training at the Expatise Academy! But, yeah, it gives color to it that we each bring something to the table.

Brian Friedman: Brilliant, okay we are out of time now. But Bettina, thank you very much for being on The View From The Top. It's been wonderful chatting with you. And thank you so much for taking part.

Bettina Tang: Thank you very much Brian for inviting me and allowing me to share my thoughts. Thank you, and thank you for this initiative.

Brian Friedman: Thank you again Bettina, and thank you to all our listeners fortuning into this week's edition of The View From The Top. We'll be back again next week with another edition. Thank you everybody.

Episode Host

Brian Friedman Headshot

Brian Friedman

Strategy Director, Benivo

Special Guest

Bettina Tang Headshot

Bettina Tang

Global Mobility Advisor, Owner at Go Global HR Advisory B.V.

Episode Details

April 18, 2019

38 minutes

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Brian Friedman: Hello, and welcome to The View From The Top podcast, brought to you by Benivo. My name is Brian Friedman and I'm the Strategy Director of Benivo, the world's leading, welcome as a service, mobility tech company. My guest today, on The View From The Top, is Bettina Tang, who is very much a leading light in the European global mobility community. A native of Copenhagen, Bettina took a degree in law before joining the Danish tax office. She entered global mobility via the tax department of Deloitte, before moving on to various in-house roles. Bettina has led the mobility function at such well-known Scandinavian companies as Borealis, Novo Nordisk, and Carlsberg. Now based in Amsterdam, Bettina has struck out on her own as an independent mobility consultant. And she has an impressive roster of clients including such household names as Maersk, Booking.com and AkzoNobel. She is also an enthusiast for the mobility profession and teaches global mobility at Erasmus University in Rotterdam and also at the Expatise Academy. So Bettina, welcome to The View From The Top. And congratulations on your impressive achievements in your career to-date.

Bettina Tang: Thank you Brian for inviting me to View From The Top. I'm very honored to be here today.

Brian Friedman: Well it's certainly great having you on the podcast. So Bettina, before we really get into the meat of some of the issues facing the industry, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, a little bit about your current roles, plural, in terms of what you're doing today?

Bettina Tang: Yes, so as you already mentioned, I'm an independent global mobility advisor. I've been doing that for six years, now based in Amsterdam. As you mentioned, I have been really fortunate to work with some really great and international companies, and also, doing my passion as teaching with Erasmus and Expatise Academy. So I started my career in tax, so that's my backbone of global mobility. And then, I, sort of after ten years of tax, asked myself, you know, there must be more to life than tax. So I shifted into compensation benefits which also included global mobility, which then brought me to Vienna, so I also got some international experience there. Then for personal reasons, I returned to Denmark, headed up Novo Nordisk and then I took the big jump to independence. So I basically, I've been working on different sides of the table. Both as civil servant, consultant, and in-house. And that has really helped me get an overall understanding of how global mobility works.

Brian Friedman: What would you say is the difference between those three areas? You said civil servant, in-house, and a consultant. What do you see as the difference between them and indeed, which do you prefer?

Bettina Tang: Well they're all very interesting. I enjoy all of them, but probably I've been docking out to work as a consultant, but actually I do in-house work. So it's kind of a mix now, what I'm doing when I do the interim in-house head of mobility jobs. So civil servant is very much like there are a set of rules that you have been set to call on. And there are some politics behind the rules that are made because the politicians want to guide the population in a certain direction and your job is to try and do that. So when I then went to the consultant side, then there's suddenly a client that you have to service. So obviously the clients that we had at Deloitte, they wanted to be compliant, they wanted to be following the rules. But they also had a business. They also had to make money and find ways of working. And sometimes you then needed to find ways where you kept compliant, of course, but you know, there were some gray zones where you could sort of help them find solutions that could work for them. And then being an in-house person, then goes even further because there you really have the business to consider, who are very focused on building a revenue, growing a business and cost consciousness obviously the last couple of years. So taking that balance of being compliant, governing the rules, the policies that the ex-com have signed off on, and still finding flexible solutions that can not be perceived as an obstacle to the business, so that the business can still make money and do what they want to do. And that is sometimes a fine balance. So I'd say that's the key difference.

Brian Friedman: I have heard some people describe mobility as the function that says no.

Bettina Tang: Yeah.

Brian Friedman: The line turns 'round and says we need to move somebody from country A to country B, get him there. And then it's our role as a mobility professional to say, well actually it's not that simple. There is, you do need a visa if you're going to work somewhere and there are tax implications if you're going to work somewhere. And there are compliance, duty of care issues if you're going to work somewhere. How do you manage the pressure that you must be under with some of the large companies you've worked for, where the line wants you to do something, and actually the real answer is, mmm, I'm not so sure.

Bettina Tang: Yes, I can recognize that and I often hear, oh, don't go to mobility. They will just say no, work your way around it. And then they get into trouble. And then they come running, and then they want us to fix it. And that is sometimes the way you need to do it. Sometimes you need to have that burning platform and let them crash and burn. Because then they will understand the added value of what you're trying to explain to them. So it is about building relationship. Going out to talk to the person as explaining why it is that there are these rules and what the benefit is. And if they actually work together with you, that you can be more fast if they're aware, for example of the deadlines in immigration. You know, be up front with them so that they can plan their projects. There's nothing worth for a manager to have their project postponed because they didn't get the work permit. So, you know, they hate surprises. So work closely with them and tell them what is possible and find a solution that is workable. And yeah, sometimes you have to say no. So yeah, it is a balance to try to be the policeman, woman, of a certain set of rules. And then sometimes be solution-oriented. And that is a fine balance.

Brian Friedman: And I suppose sometimes the message to get across to the line is that the penalties for non-compliance can be pretty severe.

Bettina Tang: Absolutely.

Brian Friedman: Either in terms of financial risk, reputational risk, or even physical risk. I know, for example, in some countries the penalty for over-staying a visa can be a lashing. So, sometimes we can't muck around with these things.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, and I usually flag, if we have such cases, I usually flag it to them. But if you're in a company that haven't had these issues, or you know, they say, we'll just pay the penalty, then of course, it's more difficult. But if you have, especially something top management. If they're suddenly in jail in Pakistan or some of their employees are, then they suddenly realize, oh, actually what global mobility is saying is, you know, they do have a point. So you just have to find those, and flag them. That usually helps.

Brian Friedman: I think maybe as a profession, we ought to keep a horror story list we can all share with each other. I remember hearing one mobility director of another company, not one of yours, I must add, who turned around and secretly said she wished that one of her employees would get caught and get lashed because nobody would ever give her problems again.

Bettina Tang: Exactly.

Brian Friedman: She was joking, I must say. So tell me, just a bit more about yourself. We know that you joined, you got in the profession via the tax department of the Danish authorities, and indeed, I think that way of going into mobility via tax is a pretty well-trodden path, and indeed many of the guests on this podcast have gone down that route before. But, as you went into that route, what made you move from one to the other? What made you make the jumps between the different types of organizations?

Bettina Tang: I think from a tax perspective, I think I got a bit tired of doing just taxes. It was a really specialized area and I wanted to see things in a bigger context and understand how things worked. And then, I was like, so where do I go from here? And then I heard about compensation benefit and I was fortunately approached by a head-hunter from Borealis and I found, oh wow, this could be my stepping stone out of tax, because it was like 25 percent of my job was still global mobility and tax, so you know, I was on safe ground. I still had some building blocks there. And then there was this whole new world opening up with compensation benefit which was like, pay for performance and organizational structures and these kinds of things that were a black box for me, to be honest, when I was sitting at Deloitte and just doing tax memos and tax returns. So that was kind of, turned out to be a really good move to build on those stepping stones. And then, later when I went to Novo Nordisk that was really focused on key global mobility and I felt, I found out that compensation benefit was not my key interest. I thought global mobility was more fun. I really like the international aspects of it and I felt I was a little bit stuck behind an Excel sheet all day doing calculations and rewards. So I wanted out with talking to people again. So, then I was lucky to move into pure global mobility at Novo Nordisk, and then from there, I then realized I really like the consultancy part of it as well, and that's where I took the big jump to be an independent global mobility advisor.

Brian Friedman: Okay, when people talk about tax, or accounting, or legal, they talk about the tax profession, the accounting profession, the legal profession. But many people talking about global mobility talk about the global mobility industry. Do you think we're in an industry or profession?

Bettina Tang: Hm, I would hope both. Because I do think this is, you need special skills, competencies to do what we do. I mean we basically we do tax, we do legal stuff, we deal with contracts, we do calculations. We negotiate with providers and the business. We deal with people who are taken out of their comfort zones and thrown into new countries. So you really have a palette of a lot of different skills and I think that is a profession. And it's growing, right? It is growing and that's a good thing, so we do see, you know, relocation, the technology solutions, and all the support functions with language support and cultural support and spouse support and these kinds of things. So it is growing. And you can also see at the events that Evim have, they have a lot of different companies that also are expanding and getting broader and broader within what they do. So yeah, both, I would say.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and I know you're a very passionate believer in education in the mobility profession. And I know you teach at Erasmus University, which must be one of the few universities in the world that teaches global mobility. And also the Expatise Academy. Can you just tell us a little bit, a bit more about the teaching that they do there, that you do there, and indeed, what your views would be about how to raise the standard, the professionalism in mobility.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, so Expatise Academy and Enginche have done great work in trying to build education from fundamental courses, intermediate courses, and more, for more experienced courses. They actually developed the master course that was then handed over to the Erasmus University. And now being run by Erasmus and that you get your degree, master course degree, from Erasmus University. So, it has been really also promoting this over many, many years. It's a long haul, right? It takes a long time. And I think it is important that you can step in at different phases. Because depending on how you would jump into or fall into global mobility, you will have some gaps. So if you come from relocation, you maybe need some help with tax immigration. And if you come from tax immigration, you need maybe some reward or whatever. So it's different for everybody, because we each come from a different background. So you need to have the broader picture. And what Engus tried to do is to make sure you get everything that you go through everything and you understand each of these different elements so that you also get the holistic point of it. And I think that's really also what I'm enjoying at the master course because it's trying to elevate it and say, you know, there are all these different aspects that you need to know. And I don't expect you to know everything, but we can help you on that journey and build and fill out the gap that you may have. Can always take additional trainings. The big four and other companies, airinc and rose, so they also have courses and you can do that. But I think Expatise Academy is unique in the way that you can follow all the modules and go through the whole program and get that holistic view of global mobility. We think it's important that they understand how do we connect the dots. How does one thing lead into another. Doing a contract, how does reflect the way we pay people, the way we deliver it, how we support them practically and all these things and how that all reflects on basically helping the business, making sure you've got the right people in the right place at the right time at the right cost.

Brian Friedman: These courses are not aimed, correct me if I'm wrong, they're not aimed at junior people who just want to start in global mobility. They're aimed at people who've got experience as well.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, so it's at all levels. And that's why they have the fundamental, intermediate, and the master course. So you can step in at any level. So if you have several years of experience already as a manager, you don't have to necessarily take the fundamental and intermediary, you just can go into the master course. But if you're totally new to it and you say, I don't know nothing, then it's really good to start with the fundamentals and just take that. And of course it builds up and it goes through, the fundamentals we get very basic training and of course we expect more of you at intermediate and expect even more of you at the master course, of course. Because yeah, then you have more experience and you have higher expectations and it's different kind of level of discussions that we have. And you also build a great network because it's also become more and more international. They have international students there, so it's also you're also building an international network when you attend the courses.

Brian Friedman: Okay, let's move on. I know at the moment, you're working dependently, but you're also, if you like, semi-in-house, that you do a couple days a week with AkzoNobel. Could you tell us a little bit about the program that AkzoNobel has and some of the initiatives that you've been pushing through whilst you've been there?

Bettina Tang: So what I do as interim manager currently at AkzoNobel it's like I try to step in and see what are we doing, what's going on at the moment. And AkzoNobel has made two big transformations in one go, so they've changed tax provider and relocation provider.

Brian Friedman: At the same time?

Bettina Tang: At same time, at first of January.

Brian Friedman: Whoa.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, whoa. And those are two big providers because yeah, you know, they have systems, they have all the historical, they have all the files. So it's quite a transformation for them to do at the same time. And also they just went through a split up of the company, which they just, you know, came out of. And then they're doing this exercise. And of course, with continuous cost-consciousness, also. So it's a big exercise for them. And my role as interim, is then of course to make sure that everything runs smoothly and can jump in. And having done this so many times, I know exactly where the pain points are. I can ask all the nasty questions and make sure, have we done this, how have we dealt with this. Follow up on the different things. And of course it helps move forward the process and the permutation of it. Yeah, that's great fun for me.

Brian Friedman: And can you tell us a little bit about the program? How many moves do they do a year? How many locations?

Bettina Tang: Yeah it's not a huge program. They have a lot of local international hires. So it's a mix. Probably I shouldn't go too much into detail because of confidentiality issues, but it's a good size program and they have a mix of everything. And like everybody else, they also start to see the more complex issues with not pure assignment. But the virtual workers and people who work partly here and partly there. So they have all the complexities that everybody's dealing with. And trying to figure out where people are and making sure they're compliant, tax, social security, pension-wise, immigration-wise. They have all the complexities even though it's not a huge program. But yeah, medium sized, I would say.

Brian Friedman: And having gone through the two RFPs for the tax provider and the RNC provider, what are the main lessons that you've learned that you would pass on to other people going through a similar process at the moment?

Bettina Tang: Oh, in this particular case I was not part of the RFP, but of course, sometimes I am. So I think it's to be very clear up front in defining what your requirements are. And I think if you haven't done the process before, good to get professional help with this. That helps a lot. So Inex, so they hired another extern consultant who was a specialist in relocation and worked as a relocator for many years to help do the RFP process. Simply to really be clear on defining the requirements and really be up front, clear on what it is that you want. And then make the agreements, early stages and the implementation on how you're going to do things. And it might be very detailed work, but more time you spend on it up front, and during implementation, the smoother the process will be later on because you have managed expectation on what to expect as a client. But also what the provider can deliver and cannot deliver. So you know, build a partnership, be a partner with your provider. I think it's very key to success. Because most providers today are very professional, and I work with a lot of the relocation companies and tax providers and immigration providers. And they're only as good as the weakest point in the chain, as we say. So it's about having a good team and a good person to really work through the details and build relationship and find solutions that will help you in the long run.

Brian Friedman: So building relationships is pretty critical for you?

Bettina Tang: Yeah, I think so, yeah.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and what about the role of the mobility professional in-house, themselves? Do you think that mobility professionals are properly appreciated by the line these days? Do you think it's getting better or worse?

Bettina Tang: To be honest, I feel it's getting worse. I do feel that it's not appreciated enough. The complexity and the skills that the mobility professionals need in-house. I do see, okay, we'll just implement the technology and then everything is solved. Or, that the robots will fix everything. But you know, if you don't have your policies and processes in place, it's not going to work. It's like a calculator. You can't use a calculator if you don't know how to calculate. But I also see that job creating, sort of like, instead of directors, you hire senior managers, or even just managers. So, and you know with lower job grades, you have lower pay and then I think that's not fair to the profession, because it is very complex and it does take a lot of skill to do this job. So I'm a little bit sad to see that. That's also why I'm fighting passionately for it to be a profession and the teaching because I really do want it to be acknowledged by the business. That people get paid for what they do.

Brian Friedman: And how do you think technology is beginning to impact the mobility profession?

Bettina Tang: Oh I think it's going to be a big impact. And it already is. I can see more and more companies are implementing technology solutions. We'll never replace Excel, that will always be our preferred tool because it's just so flexible. But more and more companies are using technology and it is supporting the processes. Helping us with notifications and deadlines and tracking and history, retaining history and archiving it. And that's really great and there are some great systems out there. A lot of money has been invested by the providers in the market, and that's really great. And I do believe that it will help us because you know, if we can get rid of some of the operational work and still get the basics right, then there will be more time for us as mobility professionals to enhance the employee experience and the business experience. To go out and support the business. Providing statistics that can help more informed decisions and help the assignee have a good experience when they are having this international experience.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned the word experience. And gosh, I mean, I think I hear that word pretty much every day now, or every interview. People are talking about customer experience, employee experience and of course, in our world, increasingly about assignee experience. But what does it mean to you? What does employee experience mean, or assignee experience mean and what do you do to enhance it in your various roles?

Bettina Tang: Well I think it's important that the employee has a good experience because I think a happy employee is doing a happy good job. So I think it is important. It can be many ways. It can be self-service functions, which a lot of the technology solutions provide. Because that will give fast and transparent information whenever the employee is ready for it and has time for it. So that is a huge thing. Instead of pushing all this information through to them. Ideally they will have an experience where they will learn and develop while they are working internationally and that will support the business to grow. So yeah, of course it make sense that that is the buzzword. And I hope that on the backend of employee experience there will also be focus on supporting the employee's family, if they are accompanying them because I've seen that normally gets cut when there are cost cuttings, which is really a shame because you know, again, a happy employee, happy family. I think that the employee will do good work. So there are things that we can do. And that's why I also think the human touch is still important. So the technology can help us and support us a lot. But the human touch of making sure and the empathy that also goes into acknowledging that, you know, when you take somebody and move them from one country to another, or ask them to work in multiple countries, there is a level of frustration and out of comfort zone for them and that needs to be acknowledged. So I think the human touch is still important. But yeah, technology can help support a lot.

Brian Friedman: I was going to ask you about the biggest changes you've seen throughout your career. Appreciate that technology is going to be one of those changes. But what other changes have you seen during your career that you think are interesting trends?

Bettina Tang: Yeah, well technology is the biggest one. That is really... a lot of money has been invested and it does make a big difference. And that will continue. In the next 12 months and the next five to ten years, artificial intelligence will help us do things in a good way. So I think definitely, that is. But I don't think it will fully replace it. And it only works, as I said, if you know what you're doing. The biggest changes I have, I think I've covered it a little bit already, that whether global mobility is appreciated or not. There I see that maybe the complexity, maybe they understand the complexity, but the answer has been to out-source global mobility. And that may not be the solution. Because if you don't know what you're doing, then you can't out-source it. So I think maybe there is an awareness that it's complex, but the true complexity is not fully appreciated.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned out-sourcing and that's quite an interesting one. Because I think it's been sort of a bit of a fashion item, out-sourcing, where at some points, people say, oh we must do everything in-house. And then people say, no we need to out-source. And then they sort of bring it back in-house.

Bettina Tang: Yeah, it's a pendulum.

Brian Friedman: Where are you on that pendulum? Are you an out-sourcer or a do-it-in-houser?

Bettina Tang: I think I'm probably a little bit in the middle. I do think that out-sourcing can be a great value and if it's a small company with a small program you simply do not have the expertise in-house to run a really top professional mobility program. You need external help to guide you through it. If you have a huge program with 500 or 1000 expats, of course, yes, you can have more in-house and it does have a value because you have, as an in-house, more personal touch. You have more, you know, what's going on. So you know, it depends on the maturity on where you are in your global mobility journey. If you're new or in the middle or very mature. So it's difficult to say what is right or wrong. I can see pros and cons over both things. So I think it's really about figuring out as a company, where you are on the scale and what it is that you want to achieve. And how many resources you have for it. But you know, I don't mind personally, getting rid of all the operational stuff. That's not what I think is fun anymore. So you know, to have solutions for that, you can out-source that and then have time to spend with the business and support them. Personally, I think that's more fun. But it depends on where you are.

Brian Friedman: Okay, and let's look at the very near future. What would you say are your top three objectives for the next 12 to 18 months?

Bettina Tang: Well my focus is to follow the technology developments really closely because it's going really, really fast. Obviously I have the benefit when I work in-house to really work with the different providers and the different systems. So I really can see pros and cons and what works and not. So that's really nice and I can see a lot of focus on it from the providers which is really great. So I'm trying to keep on top of that. Then I want to continue to increase awareness of global mobility as a profession, raise the bar, which I do with my teaching. And then, I do as much networking as I can because that's also my chance to be inspired and learn new thingsand hear what's going on in global mobility, and talk to peers and share frustrations and laughs about our wonderful profession.

Brian Friedman: You mentioned the word inspired there and actually one of the questions I was going to ask you, which I didn't at the beginning, but I want to get back to, is who inspired you in your career? And I suppose inparticular, not so much who, but what sort of person, what did they inspire you with? What were the learnings? And as a follow up to that, what would be the lessons you'd pass on to other people starting in the profession today?

Bettina Tang: Well I would say the person who inspired me was Elsa Hamilton from Borealis, my boss. And the reason why is that she really opened my eyes and gave me a broader understanding how organizations work. So really kind of like how the different functions connect to each other. So how does reward impact pay and performance. How does an organization's structure, centralized versus de-centralized approach. The whole legal setup of businesses. Communication, how important it is how we communicate things.Business needs, how do we ensure that we actually build solutions that work for the business and not seen as obstacles. So I think that really opened my mind. And the lessons I want to pass on is, yeah, in global mobility, the devil's in the detail. And everybody working in mobility knows that because the majority of what we do is compliance issues. And you know, one little change whether you are a resident or sold your house or which nationality you have can make a big impact on whether you get a work permit or what your tax situation is. So we drown in this operational stuff. And I think sometimes I can be difficult to step back and go out and keep the bigger picture in mind and say, what is it we're actually trying to achieve here? Right, we're trying to support the business in getting the right people in the right place, the right time, the right process, I already mentioned. And keep that in mind to not get so into the daily work and operational works in the business. So taking the time out to talk to your key stakeholders on a regular basis to understand how you can best support them. But also, to share your world of complexity so they understand immigration, taxes, social security, pension, pay, benefits, relocation, cultural, language, spouse support, health and safety, blah, blah, blah. All these things that they understand, okay, why is it so difficult and why is it so important that there are deadlines and that they have to have certain information and all these things. So it's a dual way and that can really be difficult. Because that will help you if they better understand how you can add value and what you can do for them, they will come to you, beforehand, and avoid burning platforms. And keep updated on latest trends. Global mobility constantly evolves, constantly new things popping up. Build a good network with equal minded people to bounce off ideas and challenges, that's also really key because you will always have situations that you're going to not encountered before. I've been doing this for 25 years, I still have issues where like, oh, okay, that's a new thing I never heard before, which is fun, right, because you don't want to think you know it all. So basically, be curious. Be resilient, be patient. And have a thick skin. Because being global mobility is not a popularity contest. So we get a lot of things that we have to say no and push back and all these things. But it's also fun. So when you have an employee who's happy and appreciative and say, you really made this a great experience, yeah, that's worthwhile, all the pushing back and the nos.

Brian Friedman: Yeah because we always can be tempted to forget that what is a job for us is actually a very traumatic period of somebody's life. When they're effectively moving job and they're moving country and they're moving house, and indeed they're moving culture all at the same time.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, we're moving people and not machines. And we sometimes seem to forget that. So oh here's a contract and here's the pay and payroll and blah, blah, blah, and here's the relocator and go fix. But we're actually dealing with people which is also the fun part of it. But yeah, those frustrations also have to be acknowledged.

Brian Friedman: Okay well we're pretty much out of time, but there's just one last question I'll ask you before we finish up, which is this Bettina, if you had your time again, what if anything would you do differently? Would you sort of move, not go into a particular role, or would you start earlier in a different role, or would you have structured your career, or maybe not even gone into mobility at all? What would you have done differently, if you'd had your time again?

Bettina Tang: It's a really good question. Well generally I have to say, I'm very happy with my career. I had great fun trying out all these different things and sitting on different sides of the table. So it's always been challenging. Kind of like when I look at it now and look back, it looks like there was a red thread through my career. Now I can see it. But when I was young, I was just like, oh I'll do a little bit of this and then I try that. But actually I was building on the fundament. I kept building on and on and on so that turned out to be a really good plan. And I tried some stuff and I was like, no, I'm going back to global mobility because actually this is what I really enjoy. It's constantly changing, it constantly challenged me. I constantly have to stay on my toes. I can't lean back and say, oh I know it all. And I like that. I'm a naturally curious person. I want to learn. So it kind of built on that and I really like the internationality, being international, working with international people. I've been working with probably like, I don't know, 60 different cultures in all my career. It's just every time fun to work with people and try to understand how do I explain this to you with this baggage and this culture. So it's kept me on my toes and keep me challenged. And looking back, I don't know where I could've gone anywhere else. I probably could, but it has fulfilled that side of me. Maybe I would've stepped out of tax a little bit earlier, but yeah, otherwise, I'm also really happy that I have that strong fundament in tax and social security that I have because it's really helpful in global mobility. I'm not saying you have to have it, but yeah, it does take up a bit of the time.

Brian Friedman: I think most people do have, if you like, one core competence as their special skill. And then they move out to other areas. I know one of my previous guests from The View From The Top likened mobility to a decathlon. And said that every decathlete has got lots of different skills, but nonetheless they tend to have one event that they're best at.

Bettina Tang: Exactly, and I think part of what I do as an interim manager is to go out and look at the team and say what are your strengths and how do we build on that? So one is good at tax and one is good at people and one is good talking to the business and one is good at spouse support. How do we compliment each other? The best teams are where we have different skillsand we compliment each other and we work together in trying to make the best solutions. And I think when I look at people coming into mobility we have just come from so many different backgrounds and I think that's part of the fun. That gives that color to it. It also gives the frustration, hence you have to go to the training at the Expatise Academy! But, yeah, it gives color to it that we each bring something to the table.

Brian Friedman: Brilliant, okay we are out of time now. But Bettina, thank you very much for being on The View From The Top. It's been wonderful chatting with you. And thank you so much for taking part.

Bettina Tang: Thank you very much Brian for inviting me and allowing me to share my thoughts. Thank you, and thank you for this initiative.

Brian Friedman: Thank you again Bettina, and thank you to all our listeners fortuning into this week's edition of The View From The Top. We'll be back again next week with another edition. Thank you everybody.

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