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Susan Benevides, CEO at Plus Relocation Services

About this Episode

Susan Benevides

CEO at Plus Relocation Services

Susan Benevides is the CEO at Plus Relocation Services, a global mobility company which has been making moving easier for corporations and their relocating families, for more than 50 years. They do it by delivering more global knowledge, more ground-breaking technology and more engaging relocation services. Benevides is responsible for the growth and development of the organization, she executes Plus Relocation’s strategy through innovative solutions, employee development, and client engagement.

In this in-depth interview, Susan discusses her career journey at Plus Relocation and how this gave her the tools to understand the job; shares her thoughts on not being afraid to ask for help from successful role models; discusses technology and the new types of companies coming into the market; reveals her belief that the traditional way of managing mobility is changing; and asserts the importance of not looking at your career as a ladder, but look at it rather a jungle gym.

Full Transcript

Brian Friedman: Hello, and welcome to Season 2 of The View From The Top podcast brought to you by Benivo. My name is Brian Friedman. I'm the Strategy Director of Benivo, the world's leading, welcome as a service, mobility tech company. I'm delighted to say that my guest today is Susan Benevides. Now Susan has been providing expertise in the relocation industry for over 20 years, most of them as President and CEO of Plus Relocation Services where she started as just a humble receptionist before working her way up to the very top. Susan is also a longstanding supporter of Worldwide ERC and has previously served as their chairman as well as holding various executive board and advisory council roles. Founded in 1968 Plus Relocation is a Minneapolis-based relocation management company who operate on a tri-regional basis with other offices in Hong Kong and London, plus have a particular focus on tech companies and count many household-name companies amongst their client base. Including such well-known companies as: Google; Twitter; Salesforce; Dropbox; Yelp, and many more. They're widely considered one of the most innovative RMCs operating in the market today. So, Susan, welcome to, The View From The Top, and many, many congratulations on your impressive achievements and your career to date.

Susan Benevides: Thank you so much Brian, I'm really delighted to be here today and looking forward to our conversation.

Brian Friedman: Great, so let's dig straight in. I wanna know a little bit about your career history in a moment, but before we onto that just tell me a little bit about what your current role is, what you do today in the organization?

Susan Benevides: So I am currently the CEO of Plus Relocation and focused really on our strategic business objectives. Still very active in the sales and marketing side of the company, but importantly focused on really finding out what our strategy is for the next three to five years and where we need to go. I'm surrounded by a great team of people who execute so well within the organization and it allows me to spend time looking for, spending time on innovation and finding new ways to do our business 'cause it has been a long time that I've been in the industry.

Brian Friedman: Cool, well we'll get into the strategy a bit, and the strategy for the next three to five years slightly later in the conversation. But before we move on to that, as you say you've been in the industry a long time, you're a lifer in the industry, you started, as I said in the introduction, as a receptionist. But just tell me a little bit about how you got there. Was that your first job and how did you, you know, you climbed the pole very successfully, just tell us a little bit about how you got there?

Susan Benevides: Yes, well thank you. So it's actually been, it's been 28 years, and I did come straight out of college. My parents had started the company, as a real estate company, and they had a relocation department within that. They had then sold off the real estate and decided to focus solely on relocation. Unfortunately, when I was graduating from college the economy was not doing that well and they called me up one day and said, we need a receptionist ours is no longer here so we need you to come into the office. So I wasn't originally planning on staying there, in fact, as often siblings, or children do, in a family business that was the last place I was going to be. And I thought I was going to be a broadcast journalist, that's what my dream was and that ended up not being an interest of mine. And so I started out just helping out with the front desk, but then I slowly took on different roles within the organization. I helped with destination services and I helped in the accounting and I helped with real estate. And then in the mid '90s, when the tax laws changed in the U.S., I got involved in the expense management and then I moved into a counselor role, and a account management role. Finally went into sales, headed up sales, became president and then that's the end of my journey, the CEO. But I will tell you the perspectives I have on really working almost every desk within the organization really built I think, gave me the tools to understand the job to help me today, literally the ins and outs of the operational side it allows a lot of freedom to think about the strategic side and the products and services that we can be offering.

Brian Friedman: Excellent, so you must have met a lot of people in your career working on those different desks, and indeed in your life. Who would you say, the people that inspired you, and maybe not just as much as who inspired you, what did they teach you?

Susan Benevides: It's interesting because I was very fortunate obviously to have parents who taught me a lot about the industry and really understanding where it was going, and you know, that was our conversations at dinner, was often around real estate and mobility, so, you know, I am always grateful for that opportunity. As my career started to develop I realized I needed to get outside of just the comfort of the inside of the office and start to meet people and that's when I actually got involved with Worldwide ERC and I remember sitting down with Chris Coley one day and asking him what would it take for me to get more involved and to learn about this industry? And he did a great job of connecting me with a lot of people and that's how I ended up serving on the board. The time on the board with Worldwide ERC, and the executive leadership that was there, was invaluable to me. You know I learned how to do business outside of what I had seen just from our own company and the different perspectives and how, especially with different RMCs, how they had grown. You know I remember not being afraid to talk to the other CEOs at some of the largest RMCs just to ask them, you know, if you were starting out in my position as, you know, plus relocation services, we were probably only about 40 people at the time, what advice would you give me? And so I just, I wasn't afraid to go out and ask for help from people who had been really successful in their career. And I'm eternally grateful for what those, what everybody brought to me through that.

Brian Friedman: So it sounds like one of the lessons you would pass on to other people coming into the industry is really get involved with organizations, network, talk to other people. But what other lessons would you pass on to youngsters starting in the profession today?

Susan Benevides: Well I that one is, network, get to know people. You know one of the things we talk about often in our office is, and I think I'm a good representative of that, is, and it comes from the book, Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, where it says, don't look at your career as a ladder, but look at it rather as a jungle gym, it's okay to take a lateral move. And you don't always have to look for the next promotion, but where else could you get experience that could help build your knowledge base. So for me it was moving from, you know, the real estate side, or the destination services side, over to accounting and understanding how the money flows. So I really believe that sometimes people limit themselves by thinking they just wanna continue to move up in the department they're in and then they wanna become a manager and, you know, I've always said to people, management is not easy and it's not for everyone, but I think there's this mentality that that's how careers get developed. And I would tell you that, even in our own organization, we're trying to get people to move across to, get complete different disciplines in their career. And again, it may just be a lateral move, but they may be moving from the service side to something else, but it really helps them gain the knowledge to see the business differently.

Brian Friedman: Yeah absolutely, I take those points, I think that's really helpful advise for listeners who might be thinking about their own careers. So just moving on a little bit. Let's just talk a little bit about changes that we've seen, or you've seen, going throughout your career. I mean you started in the industry, well it sounds in a way you started in the industry at birth if your parents had a real estate company, but certainly you've been active in the company for, I think you said 20 years, 28 years. What are the biggest changes that you think you've seen throughout your career?

Susan Benevides: I think the biggest, two shift, one seen the shift of, and probably more in the '90s, was companies actually outsourcing through RMCs and not just portions of it, not just destination services, or, you know, the real estate or expense side. So more outsourcing, especially in the U.S., but even globally as well. Really looking for the assignment management, a focus on the employee on what they needed, more strategy around policy development. I've seen in the last, probably five years, a real shift in the policy, policies that company's are operating under whether, and some of 'em are driven by cost-containment pressure and things like that. Other's are driven by trying to track the best talent, or retain the best talent. I've also seen the demographic change of who's moving, you know. When I started it was very often, it was the male who was taking a relocation position and they had a trailing spouse and two children and a dog, and they fit a very typical profile and they would move, they could expect to move every few years. Now you see that, the demographics of how people live, and who they're moving, that the talent has shifted. It doesn't mean that they're only investing in people who have been with the company for 10 years, like it was traditionally, but now you might have that data scientist who's gonna change the way the company operates and that is where the companies are now putting their investment. So you see a huge increase in renters, and that doesn't necessarily mean that renters are new hires, or college grads, the way people live, and want to live are more mobile. People's lifestyles have changed the way companies are looking at policy and how they best serve them. And then obviously, technology has been such a critical part and continues to be and I believe will still continue to be as lifestyle needs change and people expect, and demand, and use information in a different way.

Brian Friedman: So we've got various themes coming through there. We've got cost containment, we've got demographics, we've got cultural differences between generations, we've got technology, so there's a number of different themes coming through. And I know one thing's that, I don't think you mentioned by name, but I think it was sort of implicit in what you were saying, was maybe a bit of a move away from the conventional buildup, balance-sheet approach, to more sort of lump-sum type assignments. I think that was part of what you were getting at there in terms that shapes the move. Which in a way sort of leads me on to the question of, do you think we are moving away now to a position where if we look back in 10 years time and people talk about a balance sheet approach, people would be saying, well, who does that anymore?

Susan Benevides: Yeah, I do think there is a shift. And I think if I look over the last few years people have been trying to figure out how to serve the employee by giving them more flexibilities. So some have gone to lump sum, or they go to a cafeteria style, or core flex, I mean you hear all these different types of policies that companies have tried and changed and gone through. And one of the things that I think, a shift that we're seeing is really towards the employee experience, and so I do think they're gonna look back and say, it wasn't about, the balance sheet approach assumed everybody fit into a certain category and it usually was around a hierarchy. And I think now they're starting to say, what's the demand of the job we have, what's the demand of that talent, is the talent readily available, and how do we balance out the needs of the ever-changing employee with, and not maybe just focus on flexibility, but employees want more than just that. They want really an experience and they want it to be personalized. So I think we're gonna start seeing a shift to personalization. We've done a lot of work and research in the last 18 months around what employees want, the employee experience, and while a lot of them will say, you know, up front, I'd be happy if you just gave me a lump sum of money, amount of money, we're finding that when we do strong-qualitative interviews with a lot of these people who receive cash, they said, it was a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be and the things that were missing for me, and in some of the ways the program was developed, was you gave me a lot of choice, but I felt out of control, they want control, they wanna understand what they're doing, how other people move, but they also want care, they want support in their move. And that's the piece where I think the pendulum has swung a little bit too far in some of these policies in an effort to give flexibility and to try to maintain costs. The employee at the end is being left to carry a lot of the burden themselves and many of 'em are not equipped to know all the nuances and the details. And I think it hurts the company in some ways because they end up having an employee who is not as productive as they wish they would have been when they're dealing with all the various moving parts of relocation.

Brian Friedman: I think what you're saying there about employee experience, you know, obviously, Benivo, my company, is very much an employee experience company so we're actually on the same page. It is somehow forgotten that if you have a new joiner in the organization, generally you have large induction programs, you have a lot of effort going in, but somehow assignees are almost like forgotten joiners. They're joining the organization, or certainly a new location of the organization, but they're just expected to turn up and get on with it and there's not much done for them in terms of a genuine welcome experience when they arrive. And even more so when they go back home again after, you know, three, four, five years, where they might find that they've actually been forgotten and they've actually fallen down the career path. I remember once speaking to a whole bunch of mobility directors from major companies and I said to them, look, honestly, honestly, honestly, do you think going on an assignment is good for a person's career, or detrimental? And they all said, well actually we'd like to say it's good for the career, but looking at what's happened to a lot of the people that come back from assignments in many cases, too many cases, it's actually detrimental because we don't look after our assignee's experience, not just when they're on assignment, but when they come back as well.

Susan Benevides: I absolutely agree with you. And I've been really impressed with Benivo, and the focus on the experience, because I think it really is helping to raise up the level of focus on this and you're absolutely right. I mean when you talk about what companies do to just attract the talent, I mean, so here they might have a position that's really hard to fill and they've been trying for say months, nine months to fill it, and an empty position is costly, trying to fill the position is costly. They're out recruiting and wooing the new candidate to come onboard and then they get there and they hand them a lump sum of money and say, great, we're happy you're here. And I do think immediately there is a disconnect, and again, our research shows that they felt really important for awhile and then as the move started they felt less cared for. and I don't think that's the message companies want to send. I think some of the challenges with mobility is that it's not always, it doesn't impact 100% of an employee base, it's usually one to 2% of their population, so I think it's challenging for mobility leaders to be able to have people say, to get the focus on the way they have, I think they're doing a better job, and just out of necessity they have to. But I think it's, you know, if you were talking about health benefits, 100% of the population gets that, so the company focuses on it a little differently versus a small population. But this is an area that if you really want to, again, attract talent, and to your point, retain talent, especially after an assignment, three to five years, you've made a huge investment into this employee. They've got this great experience that companies say they want to bring into the organization, as they continue to be more global, and then they get back and they are, they've forgotten, and I think it's just difficult for companies to be able to say, we've got to do this in a more formal approach and raise these people up. I think some are getting better at career pathing for when the returnee even before they've left and that's really the key to retaining this talent that they've got.

Brian Friedman: That's really interesting. I just wanna go back on something. Earlier you mentioned the fact that one of your roles, as CEO, is the design and implementation of strategy, plus relocation. I was wondering if I could, hope it's not too confidential, 'cause you're only speaking to (laughing) however many listeners are out there, but if you could share with us a little bit about, about what your strategy is going forward?

Susan Benevides: Well, the number one thing is we're focusing on the experience. Because, you know, if you really go in, and we take a design-thinking approach. So we've been doing a lot of research and working with a research firm to go out and do a lot of qualitative and quantitative interviews with assignees and people who have moved and taking that data and having that drive our strategy. Because if you just go out and say, well, and I'll take myself as an example. Being in this industry for so long I couldn't, and have made sometimes, the fatal decision that I know what employees want, and I think I've been able, we've been able to launch product and services sometimes, but they get about 80% there, they're are not as successful as they seemed on paper. But when you go out and you take a design-thinking approach and you get all this data from the employees, they tell you what they want. And again, that's where we kinda talked about earlier around the choice and the control and the care. That came out of the research we've been doing and so instead of building products that we think might be the next thing, or looking at our competition to say, well, they're doing this, you know, you can't take a me-too strategy. We're trying to say, what do these employees want and how would they want it and what's important to them today? And I'm thinking, we're finding out that what's important to employees today is very different than what it's been. And I will take household goods as an example. Companies have continued to offer the traditional high-end moves where everybody moves everything and all their furniture is considered an asset. Well, what we're learning today is that for a lot of people furniture is just consumable and they're more than happy to sell it before they leave. And they might have some pieces that are really important to them, but the way people want to, that they hold onto assets, or where they, where they wanna live, they wanna be more mobile. And so companies have to look for ways to create a program that addresses these different lifestyle needs. And it's not uncommon for somebody to have a home in London, but also a home in San Francisco, and so the idea of going through a traditional assignee package might not fit for them because they, they've just lived differently then they have before, and that's what we're really learning on. And so we're driving our products and services based on where the industry is going, not where it's been.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and could you go into a bit more detail? I mean how would that translate in practice to, what would you do differently for the next generation?

Susan Benevides: Well, when you, and I think the key that we're focused on right now, is really allowing the employee to decide their own mobility experience. And I believe and we've been working on that policies are going to become a thing of the past. That there is a way for you to create, either through technology, or different programs, there's a way to create, this is what we're focused on right now, is create a program that is completely designed by the employee themselves. Where they say, here is how I would like to move, here is what I need, and I would like to choose that experience for myself. You know you gotta obviously have guardrails around costs and things like that, but if you look at a world where there are exceptions and policies and companies are constantly either approving, or worse yet, denying exceptions, you're setting the tone for the employee in a way that it's not very positive. Employees actually don't like exceptions either, they don't like asking for it, and they definitely don't like getting turned down, especially 'cause they felt so important during the recruiting process. So we're looking at a way that says, if an employee said, all I want is three months of accommodations, and nothing else, and the company would actually potentially save money doing that if they didn't do all of the traditional eight to 10 benefits that we've been offering forever, what would that look like for an employee? So I think there is a significant shift happening in the industry that way.

Brian Friedman: Yeah, no I certainly see that, I can see a situation where employees have a very different attitude once they are in control of the pot of money that is being used. I remember talking to one company a few years ago and they said that when people have an accommodation allowance they always used the full accommodation allowance and then normally came back and said, well, actually we need a bit more it's not sufficient. They changed their philosophy to say, this is your accommodation allowance if you don't spend it you can get to keep half of, half of what you don't spend. And all of a sudden they actually found the majority of employees were not using their full accomodation allowance once they started. So it's fate, it's always easier to spend other people's money than your own he said.

Susan Benevides: Yes, that's true and, you know, it's, again, it's like benefits, if you give it to 'em they'll often use it because they feel like, oh, I should maximize this. And it's not because they're greedy or entitled it's because you're giving it to them. But I do think that we've got to start looking at these nontraditional benefits. I think, again I mentioned it earlier, but it feels like companies have been kinda of offering the same eight to 10 core benefits for literally decades and that's not necessarily what employees want for the future. The other area that we're, I think an area that we're focusing on, is really, and it's probably one that not a lot of people are wanting to spend time on, but really looking at the interns that companies are hiring. We're finding that that's increasingly becoming a very strategic move for companies today because they see that as their future talent base and yet it's one that, a group that's been very underserved. And so we're launching into the process of really understanding what's the journey for an intern and how are companies who are successful retaining them and what does it look like when you're giving them, you know, like a three-month experience, and what are things that the mobility industry can do to enhance that experience through services, or technology. But it takes a lot of understanding, what is the persona and the profile of that intern today? And so we're trying to get into an area that's not that traditional, but really seeing that it's really becoming, for a lot of key companies, it is their future talent and where they're focused.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and I know you have a lot of tech companies as clients, I mentioned some of the names in the introduction, Google, Twitter, Salesforce, Dropbox, et cetera. Are you seeing a difference between the attitudes of those, pretty much earlier doctor technology companies, and maybe more traditional companies who might be in say, I don't, far more telecoms, or financial services, or oil and gas, something like that? Are you seeing any sort of cultural differences between the two types of companies, maybe the West Coast, and other parts of the country?

Susan Benevides: Well, I think there's, I think a lot of companies are equally, if you ask like Chief Human Resource Officers, what's most important to them they will say the talent and the employee experience. What we're learning is that while most companies cite that experience and talent management is critical, on the top three of their list, only about 7% of companies are actually doing anything about it and taking initiative. And I will say that I think in the tech space, because of the war for talent there, they're actually really investing in it and being very future thinking about the employee experience, and their future talent base, again, like I was talking about with interns and employees like that. So I think what I see is that they are, just like in the tech world, they're early adopters into that and they're really open-minded to changing the way the mobility has been processed in their organizations, it's becoming much more strategic and thoughtful around that and really looking at. I also see a more openness to employees, who we kind of call, hand-raisers, who are asking to move and say I'd like to move to New Zealand and work there for a few years. That they're really figuring out how to formalize those programs and find a way to retain those employees by allowing them to be mobile, and at a different investment level then if they're asking them to move, but I think they're looking at the population differently, but they're really making decisions around it and focused on it to make sure that it just doesn't become something that's just talked about they're actually executing on it.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and I can see that. And certainly, these hand-raisers as you call them, self-initiated moves, I think is very much a growing trend. And in a way companies have to respond positively to that, because if not, the employees will just go to another organization and get hired locally, or go to another organization that will take them so they can get to their dream destination. I think one of the buzz words today, apart from employee experience, the buzz word today is, the agile organization, and I think what we're both seeing, and talking about, is the fact that we in business, and our clients in business, have to be agile if they are to survive.

Susan Benevides: Right

Brian Friedman: So let me move on. I wanted to just change the conversation now to, you and I both grew up in a generation where globalization was just seen as something that was, first of all, inevitable, but secondly, was seen as a good thing. Companies globalized, the world was getting smaller, the global village, the whole concept that we were becoming more global in outlook. But then in the last, I don't, say five years, there's been a bit of a backlash against globalization, whereas, you know, originally globalization was a good thing. People are now saying, well actually, globalization isn't so good. It might be good for the economy generally, but in terms of me personally, I've lost my job because my job's been outsourced to some overseas location and we're getting the, the left-behinds, starting to fight back. And we've seen that in politics around the world, whether it's populism in the United States, certainly in the UK with Brexit, throughout Europe, to a certain extent in Australia too, we're seeing this pushback against, well, maybe globalization isn't so good. Are you seeing any of that having an impact on our business, for example, if we have tighter border controls, if we have institutional pressure to hire locally, to buy locally, whether that is going to compromise the globalization that we used to think was the new normal and now maybe isn't so normal anymore?

Susan Benevides: Well, I suppose if I was able to answer that question, if I knew the answer to that, I'd be in a different job probably, but it's a challenging one, globalization is challenging. And I hear what you're saying, it's interesting 'cause I think even you said the last five years things are changing, I would say with just Brexit in itself, or what's going on in China, and some of these out of what's happening out of the U.S. with some of the trade wars and things like that, there's such a, people are a little bit paralyzed right now and so that's how I would look at. I don't have the answer to your question on whether I think it's changing, I think it's so different between different companies. But I'm looking at even some of the challenges that the companies are facing around GDPR and are they able to sustain, and can they really be at their core best when they're spread all over the globe and dealing with different, like you were saying, political issues and uprisings. And I think moving employees into different areas that the landscape is changing. And, you know, I know there was a lot of, a few years ago, there was so much talk around more companies, more companies going to South America and then a lot of 'em get there and there's challenges around that from a political and an economic. And it seems like wherever we start to shift also new things are uprising and it's getting more challenging for companies. So I don't necessarily have the answer to that. I do think right now you can't retract that very, because a lot of them have been set up for years doing business in APAC and all the different regions and I think it's hard to retract it. And I think a lot of 'em are just kinda standing still right now really looking at the global landscape rather than just a regional landscape to say, what do we need to be doing. I know there's so many companies that have been impacted by China, and again, just sitting back reading everything about Brexit, what does that mean, it can be, it's so, can be such a change for so many companies and whether that's even in trade, but also their employees and what does that mean for people who are there? So I wish I had the answer to it. All we, I think we can all do is continue to read various news sources to find out what's it look like and how are people talking about it and what impact are they seeing today?

Brian Friedman: Let me approach it in a slightly different way, a slightly broader way. And on the one hand we're seeing people wanting to travel more abroad, people wanting to work abroad, companies wanting to be global. On the other hand we're seeing employees are more able to work remotely so they don't have to go abroad, they can work from home, they don't have to travel to the remote location, and we're seeing increasing immigration controls, and as you said, trade wars. So my question is this, do you think if we go out, say 10 years, there'll be more assignees than we have today, or do you think they'll be less? In other words is mobility still increasing or are we at peak mobility now?

Susan Benevides: You know it's interesting because, kinda look at like the extended business traveler, we're seeing such an increase in that, right, where people aren't necessarily putting them, we've seen less longterm assignments. So I think that my answer to you would be, yes, I think it is shrinking, I think there is different ways of people doing business. You know for awhile there was a lot of discussion around the gig economy and what does that mean if an employee can just go take different gigs at different companies and work kind of in the experience if they want to. So I do think there's a lot of that going on where I think the traditional way of mobility is changing and the short-term assignments and extended business trips are gonna be more, and potentially just people in the gig economy, and that's gonna change the way that we look at it. So I do think that the traditional longterm assignment, three to five years is, is becoming something that's gonna become the, or it will be less of the population of most in company. And, to your point, the ability to work remotely, and you can be doing business somewhere and working from a completely different region.

Brian Friedman: And what about our industry? I mean we've seen several mergers over the last 12 to 18 months, do you think our industry is going to consolidate further, what do you think is gonna happen to our industry?

Susan Benevides: I actually, I think that there is gonna continue to be contractional among the traditional pipe chain. I think that for companies who maybe haven't had an investment in technology, and are trying to catch up, that it's moving so rapidly that it would be hard to catch up in some ways. I do think as the traditional benefits and things change, that companies are gonna have to either, you know, get out of the business or look at doing their business differently. I think, so I think from a traditional standpoint we're gonna see contraction; however, with that said, I think that we're gonna see an increase of really new types of companies coming into the market, technology companies, people who are offering services in different ways, technology firsts, like Benivo is a good example. I think we're gonna see more of that entering our marketplace to offer solutions to what used to be done in a very traditional way. So I think we're gonna see a shift. I'm actually excited for it. I like to, I always say, you know, my focus as our company is growing is to continue to look at the companies that aren't in our business, but could easily get into our business. That's where the excitement for me comes in is that, who's the Airbnb that's gonna take, well, they're coming into our business actually.

Brian Friedman: I can say Airbnb might be Airbnb.

Susan Benevides: Yeah, transform, the companies who have transformed other traditional industries, I see that already coming into ours.

Brian Friedman: Pretty much actually out of time, Susan, but I just wanna end up with one last question if I may, which is, you've had an amazing career, you've achieved a lot and certainly, plus has gone from strengths to strengths, but the question I wanted to ask is, if you had your time again, and maybe if your parents, maybe your parents hadn't asked you to be that receptionist, but if you had your time again what would you do differently, or actually has it worked out exactly as you wanted it to?

Susan Benevides: You know obviously it worked out exactly as it was supposed to (laughing). I don't know if it was what I wanted to, at the time, but it worked as it was supposed to. I am so grateful for all the experiences that I've gotten and the opportunities to expand our company globally. I don't think that if we would've looked back when I started we would have never thought we would have offices around the world the way we do today and that's been, and continuing to grow those offices, and grow new offices, you know we would have never seen that. So I don't have any regrets about where I've been. I'm more excited about, still to this day, where we're gonna go and the opportunities that lay in front of us today.

Brian Friedman: I definitely share your excitement on that, Susan. Anyway we are now out of time so all that remains really is for me to thank you, Susan, for taking part. It's been great fun having you on this call, on this podcast, and I hope you've enjoyed your time on the podcast too.

Susan Benevides: I really have and this conversation, you know, thank you for having it and I hope you continue to have these conversations about what the future looks like for our industry because it's an exciting time and getting the dialog going of what can happen is really exciting for all of us. So thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to be on this podcast.

Brian Friedman: Not at all, and thank you to all our listeners for listening in. I hope you all enjoyed the podcast there'll be another one next week. So thank you everybody and goodbye.

Episode Host

Brian Friedman Headshot

Brian Friedman

Strategy Director, Benivo

Special Guest

Susan Benevides Headshot

Susan Benevides

CEO at Plus Relocation Services

Episode Details

June 20, 2019

38 minutes

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Transcript

Full Transcript

Brian Friedman: Hello, and welcome to Season 2 of The View From The Top podcast brought to you by Benivo. My name is Brian Friedman. I'm the Strategy Director of Benivo, the world's leading, welcome as a service, mobility tech company. I'm delighted to say that my guest today is Susan Benevides. Now Susan has been providing expertise in the relocation industry for over 20 years, most of them as President and CEO of Plus Relocation Services where she started as just a humble receptionist before working her way up to the very top. Susan is also a longstanding supporter of Worldwide ERC and has previously served as their chairman as well as holding various executive board and advisory council roles. Founded in 1968 Plus Relocation is a Minneapolis-based relocation management company who operate on a tri-regional basis with other offices in Hong Kong and London, plus have a particular focus on tech companies and count many household-name companies amongst their client base. Including such well-known companies as: Google; Twitter; Salesforce; Dropbox; Yelp, and many more. They're widely considered one of the most innovative RMCs operating in the market today. So, Susan, welcome to, The View From The Top, and many, many congratulations on your impressive achievements and your career to date.

Susan Benevides: Thank you so much Brian, I'm really delighted to be here today and looking forward to our conversation.

Brian Friedman: Great, so let's dig straight in. I wanna know a little bit about your career history in a moment, but before we onto that just tell me a little bit about what your current role is, what you do today in the organization?

Susan Benevides: So I am currently the CEO of Plus Relocation and focused really on our strategic business objectives. Still very active in the sales and marketing side of the company, but importantly focused on really finding out what our strategy is for the next three to five years and where we need to go. I'm surrounded by a great team of people who execute so well within the organization and it allows me to spend time looking for, spending time on innovation and finding new ways to do our business 'cause it has been a long time that I've been in the industry.

Brian Friedman: Cool, well we'll get into the strategy a bit, and the strategy for the next three to five years slightly later in the conversation. But before we move on to that, as you say you've been in the industry a long time, you're a lifer in the industry, you started, as I said in the introduction, as a receptionist. But just tell me a little bit about how you got there. Was that your first job and how did you, you know, you climbed the pole very successfully, just tell us a little bit about how you got there?

Susan Benevides: Yes, well thank you. So it's actually been, it's been 28 years, and I did come straight out of college. My parents had started the company, as a real estate company, and they had a relocation department within that. They had then sold off the real estate and decided to focus solely on relocation. Unfortunately, when I was graduating from college the economy was not doing that well and they called me up one day and said, we need a receptionist ours is no longer here so we need you to come into the office. So I wasn't originally planning on staying there, in fact, as often siblings, or children do, in a family business that was the last place I was going to be. And I thought I was going to be a broadcast journalist, that's what my dream was and that ended up not being an interest of mine. And so I started out just helping out with the front desk, but then I slowly took on different roles within the organization. I helped with destination services and I helped in the accounting and I helped with real estate. And then in the mid '90s, when the tax laws changed in the U.S., I got involved in the expense management and then I moved into a counselor role, and a account management role. Finally went into sales, headed up sales, became president and then that's the end of my journey, the CEO. But I will tell you the perspectives I have on really working almost every desk within the organization really built I think, gave me the tools to understand the job to help me today, literally the ins and outs of the operational side it allows a lot of freedom to think about the strategic side and the products and services that we can be offering.

Brian Friedman: Excellent, so you must have met a lot of people in your career working on those different desks, and indeed in your life. Who would you say, the people that inspired you, and maybe not just as much as who inspired you, what did they teach you?

Susan Benevides: It's interesting because I was very fortunate obviously to have parents who taught me a lot about the industry and really understanding where it was going, and you know, that was our conversations at dinner, was often around real estate and mobility, so, you know, I am always grateful for that opportunity. As my career started to develop I realized I needed to get outside of just the comfort of the inside of the office and start to meet people and that's when I actually got involved with Worldwide ERC and I remember sitting down with Chris Coley one day and asking him what would it take for me to get more involved and to learn about this industry? And he did a great job of connecting me with a lot of people and that's how I ended up serving on the board. The time on the board with Worldwide ERC, and the executive leadership that was there, was invaluable to me. You know I learned how to do business outside of what I had seen just from our own company and the different perspectives and how, especially with different RMCs, how they had grown. You know I remember not being afraid to talk to the other CEOs at some of the largest RMCs just to ask them, you know, if you were starting out in my position as, you know, plus relocation services, we were probably only about 40 people at the time, what advice would you give me? And so I just, I wasn't afraid to go out and ask for help from people who had been really successful in their career. And I'm eternally grateful for what those, what everybody brought to me through that.

Brian Friedman: So it sounds like one of the lessons you would pass on to other people coming into the industry is really get involved with organizations, network, talk to other people. But what other lessons would you pass on to youngsters starting in the profession today?

Susan Benevides: Well I that one is, network, get to know people. You know one of the things we talk about often in our office is, and I think I'm a good representative of that, is, and it comes from the book, Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In, where it says, don't look at your career as a ladder, but look at it rather as a jungle gym, it's okay to take a lateral move. And you don't always have to look for the next promotion, but where else could you get experience that could help build your knowledge base. So for me it was moving from, you know, the real estate side, or the destination services side, over to accounting and understanding how the money flows. So I really believe that sometimes people limit themselves by thinking they just wanna continue to move up in the department they're in and then they wanna become a manager and, you know, I've always said to people, management is not easy and it's not for everyone, but I think there's this mentality that that's how careers get developed. And I would tell you that, even in our own organization, we're trying to get people to move across to, get complete different disciplines in their career. And again, it may just be a lateral move, but they may be moving from the service side to something else, but it really helps them gain the knowledge to see the business differently.

Brian Friedman: Yeah absolutely, I take those points, I think that's really helpful advise for listeners who might be thinking about their own careers. So just moving on a little bit. Let's just talk a little bit about changes that we've seen, or you've seen, going throughout your career. I mean you started in the industry, well it sounds in a way you started in the industry at birth if your parents had a real estate company, but certainly you've been active in the company for, I think you said 20 years, 28 years. What are the biggest changes that you think you've seen throughout your career?

Susan Benevides: I think the biggest, two shift, one seen the shift of, and probably more in the '90s, was companies actually outsourcing through RMCs and not just portions of it, not just destination services, or, you know, the real estate or expense side. So more outsourcing, especially in the U.S., but even globally as well. Really looking for the assignment management, a focus on the employee on what they needed, more strategy around policy development. I've seen in the last, probably five years, a real shift in the policy, policies that company's are operating under whether, and some of 'em are driven by cost-containment pressure and things like that. Other's are driven by trying to track the best talent, or retain the best talent. I've also seen the demographic change of who's moving, you know. When I started it was very often, it was the male who was taking a relocation position and they had a trailing spouse and two children and a dog, and they fit a very typical profile and they would move, they could expect to move every few years. Now you see that, the demographics of how people live, and who they're moving, that the talent has shifted. It doesn't mean that they're only investing in people who have been with the company for 10 years, like it was traditionally, but now you might have that data scientist who's gonna change the way the company operates and that is where the companies are now putting their investment. So you see a huge increase in renters, and that doesn't necessarily mean that renters are new hires, or college grads, the way people live, and want to live are more mobile. People's lifestyles have changed the way companies are looking at policy and how they best serve them. And then obviously, technology has been such a critical part and continues to be and I believe will still continue to be as lifestyle needs change and people expect, and demand, and use information in a different way.

Brian Friedman: So we've got various themes coming through there. We've got cost containment, we've got demographics, we've got cultural differences between generations, we've got technology, so there's a number of different themes coming through. And I know one thing's that, I don't think you mentioned by name, but I think it was sort of implicit in what you were saying, was maybe a bit of a move away from the conventional buildup, balance-sheet approach, to more sort of lump-sum type assignments. I think that was part of what you were getting at there in terms that shapes the move. Which in a way sort of leads me on to the question of, do you think we are moving away now to a position where if we look back in 10 years time and people talk about a balance sheet approach, people would be saying, well, who does that anymore?

Susan Benevides: Yeah, I do think there is a shift. And I think if I look over the last few years people have been trying to figure out how to serve the employee by giving them more flexibilities. So some have gone to lump sum, or they go to a cafeteria style, or core flex, I mean you hear all these different types of policies that companies have tried and changed and gone through. And one of the things that I think, a shift that we're seeing is really towards the employee experience, and so I do think they're gonna look back and say, it wasn't about, the balance sheet approach assumed everybody fit into a certain category and it usually was around a hierarchy. And I think now they're starting to say, what's the demand of the job we have, what's the demand of that talent, is the talent readily available, and how do we balance out the needs of the ever-changing employee with, and not maybe just focus on flexibility, but employees want more than just that. They want really an experience and they want it to be personalized. So I think we're gonna start seeing a shift to personalization. We've done a lot of work and research in the last 18 months around what employees want, the employee experience, and while a lot of them will say, you know, up front, I'd be happy if you just gave me a lump sum of money, amount of money, we're finding that when we do strong-qualitative interviews with a lot of these people who receive cash, they said, it was a lot harder than I thought it was gonna be and the things that were missing for me, and in some of the ways the program was developed, was you gave me a lot of choice, but I felt out of control, they want control, they wanna understand what they're doing, how other people move, but they also want care, they want support in their move. And that's the piece where I think the pendulum has swung a little bit too far in some of these policies in an effort to give flexibility and to try to maintain costs. The employee at the end is being left to carry a lot of the burden themselves and many of 'em are not equipped to know all the nuances and the details. And I think it hurts the company in some ways because they end up having an employee who is not as productive as they wish they would have been when they're dealing with all the various moving parts of relocation.

Brian Friedman: I think what you're saying there about employee experience, you know, obviously, Benivo, my company, is very much an employee experience company so we're actually on the same page. It is somehow forgotten that if you have a new joiner in the organization, generally you have large induction programs, you have a lot of effort going in, but somehow assignees are almost like forgotten joiners. They're joining the organization, or certainly a new location of the organization, but they're just expected to turn up and get on with it and there's not much done for them in terms of a genuine welcome experience when they arrive. And even more so when they go back home again after, you know, three, four, five years, where they might find that they've actually been forgotten and they've actually fallen down the career path. I remember once speaking to a whole bunch of mobility directors from major companies and I said to them, look, honestly, honestly, honestly, do you think going on an assignment is good for a person's career, or detrimental? And they all said, well actually we'd like to say it's good for the career, but looking at what's happened to a lot of the people that come back from assignments in many cases, too many cases, it's actually detrimental because we don't look after our assignee's experience, not just when they're on assignment, but when they come back as well.

Susan Benevides: I absolutely agree with you. And I've been really impressed with Benivo, and the focus on the experience, because I think it really is helping to raise up the level of focus on this and you're absolutely right. I mean when you talk about what companies do to just attract the talent, I mean, so here they might have a position that's really hard to fill and they've been trying for say months, nine months to fill it, and an empty position is costly, trying to fill the position is costly. They're out recruiting and wooing the new candidate to come onboard and then they get there and they hand them a lump sum of money and say, great, we're happy you're here. And I do think immediately there is a disconnect, and again, our research shows that they felt really important for awhile and then as the move started they felt less cared for. and I don't think that's the message companies want to send. I think some of the challenges with mobility is that it's not always, it doesn't impact 100% of an employee base, it's usually one to 2% of their population, so I think it's challenging for mobility leaders to be able to have people say, to get the focus on the way they have, I think they're doing a better job, and just out of necessity they have to. But I think it's, you know, if you were talking about health benefits, 100% of the population gets that, so the company focuses on it a little differently versus a small population. But this is an area that if you really want to, again, attract talent, and to your point, retain talent, especially after an assignment, three to five years, you've made a huge investment into this employee. They've got this great experience that companies say they want to bring into the organization, as they continue to be more global, and then they get back and they are, they've forgotten, and I think it's just difficult for companies to be able to say, we've got to do this in a more formal approach and raise these people up. I think some are getting better at career pathing for when the returnee even before they've left and that's really the key to retaining this talent that they've got.

Brian Friedman: That's really interesting. I just wanna go back on something. Earlier you mentioned the fact that one of your roles, as CEO, is the design and implementation of strategy, plus relocation. I was wondering if I could, hope it's not too confidential, 'cause you're only speaking to (laughing) however many listeners are out there, but if you could share with us a little bit about, about what your strategy is going forward?

Susan Benevides: Well, the number one thing is we're focusing on the experience. Because, you know, if you really go in, and we take a design-thinking approach. So we've been doing a lot of research and working with a research firm to go out and do a lot of qualitative and quantitative interviews with assignees and people who have moved and taking that data and having that drive our strategy. Because if you just go out and say, well, and I'll take myself as an example. Being in this industry for so long I couldn't, and have made sometimes, the fatal decision that I know what employees want, and I think I've been able, we've been able to launch product and services sometimes, but they get about 80% there, they're are not as successful as they seemed on paper. But when you go out and you take a design-thinking approach and you get all this data from the employees, they tell you what they want. And again, that's where we kinda talked about earlier around the choice and the control and the care. That came out of the research we've been doing and so instead of building products that we think might be the next thing, or looking at our competition to say, well, they're doing this, you know, you can't take a me-too strategy. We're trying to say, what do these employees want and how would they want it and what's important to them today? And I'm thinking, we're finding out that what's important to employees today is very different than what it's been. And I will take household goods as an example. Companies have continued to offer the traditional high-end moves where everybody moves everything and all their furniture is considered an asset. Well, what we're learning today is that for a lot of people furniture is just consumable and they're more than happy to sell it before they leave. And they might have some pieces that are really important to them, but the way people want to, that they hold onto assets, or where they, where they wanna live, they wanna be more mobile. And so companies have to look for ways to create a program that addresses these different lifestyle needs. And it's not uncommon for somebody to have a home in London, but also a home in San Francisco, and so the idea of going through a traditional assignee package might not fit for them because they, they've just lived differently then they have before, and that's what we're really learning on. And so we're driving our products and services based on where the industry is going, not where it's been.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and could you go into a bit more detail? I mean how would that translate in practice to, what would you do differently for the next generation?

Susan Benevides: Well, when you, and I think the key that we're focused on right now, is really allowing the employee to decide their own mobility experience. And I believe and we've been working on that policies are going to become a thing of the past. That there is a way for you to create, either through technology, or different programs, there's a way to create, this is what we're focused on right now, is create a program that is completely designed by the employee themselves. Where they say, here is how I would like to move, here is what I need, and I would like to choose that experience for myself. You know you gotta obviously have guardrails around costs and things like that, but if you look at a world where there are exceptions and policies and companies are constantly either approving, or worse yet, denying exceptions, you're setting the tone for the employee in a way that it's not very positive. Employees actually don't like exceptions either, they don't like asking for it, and they definitely don't like getting turned down, especially 'cause they felt so important during the recruiting process. So we're looking at a way that says, if an employee said, all I want is three months of accommodations, and nothing else, and the company would actually potentially save money doing that if they didn't do all of the traditional eight to 10 benefits that we've been offering forever, what would that look like for an employee? So I think there is a significant shift happening in the industry that way.

Brian Friedman: Yeah, no I certainly see that, I can see a situation where employees have a very different attitude once they are in control of the pot of money that is being used. I remember talking to one company a few years ago and they said that when people have an accommodation allowance they always used the full accommodation allowance and then normally came back and said, well, actually we need a bit more it's not sufficient. They changed their philosophy to say, this is your accommodation allowance if you don't spend it you can get to keep half of, half of what you don't spend. And all of a sudden they actually found the majority of employees were not using their full accomodation allowance once they started. So it's fate, it's always easier to spend other people's money than your own he said.

Susan Benevides: Yes, that's true and, you know, it's, again, it's like benefits, if you give it to 'em they'll often use it because they feel like, oh, I should maximize this. And it's not because they're greedy or entitled it's because you're giving it to them. But I do think that we've got to start looking at these nontraditional benefits. I think, again I mentioned it earlier, but it feels like companies have been kinda of offering the same eight to 10 core benefits for literally decades and that's not necessarily what employees want for the future. The other area that we're, I think an area that we're focusing on, is really, and it's probably one that not a lot of people are wanting to spend time on, but really looking at the interns that companies are hiring. We're finding that that's increasingly becoming a very strategic move for companies today because they see that as their future talent base and yet it's one that, a group that's been very underserved. And so we're launching into the process of really understanding what's the journey for an intern and how are companies who are successful retaining them and what does it look like when you're giving them, you know, like a three-month experience, and what are things that the mobility industry can do to enhance that experience through services, or technology. But it takes a lot of understanding, what is the persona and the profile of that intern today? And so we're trying to get into an area that's not that traditional, but really seeing that it's really becoming, for a lot of key companies, it is their future talent and where they're focused.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and I know you have a lot of tech companies as clients, I mentioned some of the names in the introduction, Google, Twitter, Salesforce, Dropbox, et cetera. Are you seeing a difference between the attitudes of those, pretty much earlier doctor technology companies, and maybe more traditional companies who might be in say, I don't, far more telecoms, or financial services, or oil and gas, something like that? Are you seeing any sort of cultural differences between the two types of companies, maybe the West Coast, and other parts of the country?

Susan Benevides: Well, I think there's, I think a lot of companies are equally, if you ask like Chief Human Resource Officers, what's most important to them they will say the talent and the employee experience. What we're learning is that while most companies cite that experience and talent management is critical, on the top three of their list, only about 7% of companies are actually doing anything about it and taking initiative. And I will say that I think in the tech space, because of the war for talent there, they're actually really investing in it and being very future thinking about the employee experience, and their future talent base, again, like I was talking about with interns and employees like that. So I think what I see is that they are, just like in the tech world, they're early adopters into that and they're really open-minded to changing the way the mobility has been processed in their organizations, it's becoming much more strategic and thoughtful around that and really looking at. I also see a more openness to employees, who we kind of call, hand-raisers, who are asking to move and say I'd like to move to New Zealand and work there for a few years. That they're really figuring out how to formalize those programs and find a way to retain those employees by allowing them to be mobile, and at a different investment level then if they're asking them to move, but I think they're looking at the population differently, but they're really making decisions around it and focused on it to make sure that it just doesn't become something that's just talked about they're actually executing on it.

Brian Friedman: Absolutely, and I can see that. And certainly, these hand-raisers as you call them, self-initiated moves, I think is very much a growing trend. And in a way companies have to respond positively to that, because if not, the employees will just go to another organization and get hired locally, or go to another organization that will take them so they can get to their dream destination. I think one of the buzz words today, apart from employee experience, the buzz word today is, the agile organization, and I think what we're both seeing, and talking about, is the fact that we in business, and our clients in business, have to be agile if they are to survive.

Susan Benevides: Right

Brian Friedman: So let me move on. I wanted to just change the conversation now to, you and I both grew up in a generation where globalization was just seen as something that was, first of all, inevitable, but secondly, was seen as a good thing. Companies globalized, the world was getting smaller, the global village, the whole concept that we were becoming more global in outlook. But then in the last, I don't, say five years, there's been a bit of a backlash against globalization, whereas, you know, originally globalization was a good thing. People are now saying, well actually, globalization isn't so good. It might be good for the economy generally, but in terms of me personally, I've lost my job because my job's been outsourced to some overseas location and we're getting the, the left-behinds, starting to fight back. And we've seen that in politics around the world, whether it's populism in the United States, certainly in the UK with Brexit, throughout Europe, to a certain extent in Australia too, we're seeing this pushback against, well, maybe globalization isn't so good. Are you seeing any of that having an impact on our business, for example, if we have tighter border controls, if we have institutional pressure to hire locally, to buy locally, whether that is going to compromise the globalization that we used to think was the new normal and now maybe isn't so normal anymore?

Susan Benevides: Well, I suppose if I was able to answer that question, if I knew the answer to that, I'd be in a different job probably, but it's a challenging one, globalization is challenging. And I hear what you're saying, it's interesting 'cause I think even you said the last five years things are changing, I would say with just Brexit in itself, or what's going on in China, and some of these out of what's happening out of the U.S. with some of the trade wars and things like that, there's such a, people are a little bit paralyzed right now and so that's how I would look at. I don't have the answer to your question on whether I think it's changing, I think it's so different between different companies. But I'm looking at even some of the challenges that the companies are facing around GDPR and are they able to sustain, and can they really be at their core best when they're spread all over the globe and dealing with different, like you were saying, political issues and uprisings. And I think moving employees into different areas that the landscape is changing. And, you know, I know there was a lot of, a few years ago, there was so much talk around more companies, more companies going to South America and then a lot of 'em get there and there's challenges around that from a political and an economic. And it seems like wherever we start to shift also new things are uprising and it's getting more challenging for companies. So I don't necessarily have the answer to that. I do think right now you can't retract that very, because a lot of them have been set up for years doing business in APAC and all the different regions and I think it's hard to retract it. And I think a lot of 'em are just kinda standing still right now really looking at the global landscape rather than just a regional landscape to say, what do we need to be doing. I know there's so many companies that have been impacted by China, and again, just sitting back reading everything about Brexit, what does that mean, it can be, it's so, can be such a change for so many companies and whether that's even in trade, but also their employees and what does that mean for people who are there? So I wish I had the answer to it. All we, I think we can all do is continue to read various news sources to find out what's it look like and how are people talking about it and what impact are they seeing today?

Brian Friedman: Let me approach it in a slightly different way, a slightly broader way. And on the one hand we're seeing people wanting to travel more abroad, people wanting to work abroad, companies wanting to be global. On the other hand we're seeing employees are more able to work remotely so they don't have to go abroad, they can work from home, they don't have to travel to the remote location, and we're seeing increasing immigration controls, and as you said, trade wars. So my question is this, do you think if we go out, say 10 years, there'll be more assignees than we have today, or do you think they'll be less? In other words is mobility still increasing or are we at peak mobility now?

Susan Benevides: You know it's interesting because, kinda look at like the extended business traveler, we're seeing such an increase in that, right, where people aren't necessarily putting them, we've seen less longterm assignments. So I think that my answer to you would be, yes, I think it is shrinking, I think there is different ways of people doing business. You know for awhile there was a lot of discussion around the gig economy and what does that mean if an employee can just go take different gigs at different companies and work kind of in the experience if they want to. So I do think there's a lot of that going on where I think the traditional way of mobility is changing and the short-term assignments and extended business trips are gonna be more, and potentially just people in the gig economy, and that's gonna change the way that we look at it. So I do think that the traditional longterm assignment, three to five years is, is becoming something that's gonna become the, or it will be less of the population of most in company. And, to your point, the ability to work remotely, and you can be doing business somewhere and working from a completely different region.

Brian Friedman: And what about our industry? I mean we've seen several mergers over the last 12 to 18 months, do you think our industry is going to consolidate further, what do you think is gonna happen to our industry?

Susan Benevides: I actually, I think that there is gonna continue to be contractional among the traditional pipe chain. I think that for companies who maybe haven't had an investment in technology, and are trying to catch up, that it's moving so rapidly that it would be hard to catch up in some ways. I do think as the traditional benefits and things change, that companies are gonna have to either, you know, get out of the business or look at doing their business differently. I think, so I think from a traditional standpoint we're gonna see contraction; however, with that said, I think that we're gonna see an increase of really new types of companies coming into the market, technology companies, people who are offering services in different ways, technology firsts, like Benivo is a good example. I think we're gonna see more of that entering our marketplace to offer solutions to what used to be done in a very traditional way. So I think we're gonna see a shift. I'm actually excited for it. I like to, I always say, you know, my focus as our company is growing is to continue to look at the companies that aren't in our business, but could easily get into our business. That's where the excitement for me comes in is that, who's the Airbnb that's gonna take, well, they're coming into our business actually.

Brian Friedman: I can say Airbnb might be Airbnb.

Susan Benevides: Yeah, transform, the companies who have transformed other traditional industries, I see that already coming into ours.

Brian Friedman: Pretty much actually out of time, Susan, but I just wanna end up with one last question if I may, which is, you've had an amazing career, you've achieved a lot and certainly, plus has gone from strengths to strengths, but the question I wanted to ask is, if you had your time again, and maybe if your parents, maybe your parents hadn't asked you to be that receptionist, but if you had your time again what would you do differently, or actually has it worked out exactly as you wanted it to?

Susan Benevides: You know obviously it worked out exactly as it was supposed to (laughing). I don't know if it was what I wanted to, at the time, but it worked as it was supposed to. I am so grateful for all the experiences that I've gotten and the opportunities to expand our company globally. I don't think that if we would've looked back when I started we would have never thought we would have offices around the world the way we do today and that's been, and continuing to grow those offices, and grow new offices, you know we would have never seen that. So I don't have any regrets about where I've been. I'm more excited about, still to this day, where we're gonna go and the opportunities that lay in front of us today.

Brian Friedman: I definitely share your excitement on that, Susan. Anyway we are now out of time so all that remains really is for me to thank you, Susan, for taking part. It's been great fun having you on this call, on this podcast, and I hope you've enjoyed your time on the podcast too.

Susan Benevides: I really have and this conversation, you know, thank you for having it and I hope you continue to have these conversations about what the future looks like for our industry because it's an exciting time and getting the dialog going of what can happen is really exciting for all of us. So thank you so much for allowing me the opportunity to be on this podcast.

Brian Friedman: Not at all, and thank you to all our listeners for listening in. I hope you all enjoyed the podcast there'll be another one next week. So thank you everybody and goodbye.

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