Elisabeth Hauss, Bridgestone Corp

Global Mobility Career Growth: Transitioning from Supplier to Client

Elisabeth Hauss

Mobility Career Planning; Transition from Supplier to Client. What it’s like, how to do it, and how keep your confidence in the process.

It’s the million-dollar question that every job seeker can relate to: How do you get experience if you don’t have experience?

For many supplier-side Global Mobility Consultants and Managers who want a career change/growth…requires a transition to an in-house mobility role… without previous HR experience, making the move to ‘the other side’ can be a lengthy process and sometimes an even daunting and intimidating experience comparable to landing that first ‘real’ job out of college (as opposed to the one where you waved a sign on the side of the road in a dramatically oversized polyester chicken costume on a 105 degree day).

Two years ago, I was in the exact same boat. At the time, I was a Global Mobility Consultant at a Relocation Management Firm, handling the average high RMC move volume. Things were going well for me: My customer satisfaction scores were in the top range for consultants in the firm, I had a great manager who took pride in developing her team, I was working on interesting and successful clients and won a couple of awards for exceeding goals and other operational contributions. At that time, anything could have happened with my career. I could have done what most consultants do; stay on-track for an Operations Manager role or relocate to join another area of the business.

It was around that time that I read an interesting article in Global Mobility Magazine about Global Mobility career development and how career paths in this field have been historically split between supplier-side and client-side paths. To me, this was a turning point in how I thought about my career and future opportunities. The key message of the article essentially was:

In the future, the key influencers in the industry will be those who can bring client-side and supplier-side experience to the table.

This completely made sense to me: If you’ve been on the client side, you will be able to provide better value at the RMC because you know exactly what your clients need. If you’ve previously been on the RMC side, you will do a better job at managing your vendor and leveraging their expertise in your in-house role.

When I spoke to others about my plans to switch sides at the time, I experienced mostly raised eye-brows, concern and doubt. I heard anything from “Good luck to you, I’ve been trying to break into client side roles for years” to “Oh my, do you really want to do that… client side people are always so stressed, it must be terrifying to be on the other side.” I didn’t let that hold me back, decided to see for myself and hit the ground running. Fueled by the logic about the value of my background I thought it would be a fast and easy gig to land, I was surprised by lessons learned along the way.

Now fast-forward two years later; I’ve been in my client-side role for 2 years. I regularly receive questions from friends, former colleagues or members from the LinkedIn Community who can tell from my profile that I made the transition. They all ask the same three questions:

  • Is it different?
  • Is it more stressful than consulting at an RMC?
  • How do I find the right job quickly?

Here are some answers.

Is it more stressful?

Stress is different for everyone. I will say this: If you can handle the average high RMC move volume (let’s keep it real, you DO move a lot of people and you know it), keep your head above water and have a low escalation ratio, you’ll be fine. Why? Because if you can handle 100-200 moves per year, 300+ emails a day, be copied on every communication for every assignee and every vendor, have at least good metrics and some sense of sanity left, you’ll be fine. Many of the skills you use on the RMC side are directly transferable to the client side, such as managing vendors, setting expectations, following-up and following through. The rest is learning on the job.

Don’t let the “negative Nancy’s” hold you back! The truth is that, and this may be a little hard to hear for some, for the most part, client-side people who are experienced in Mobility and experience good support from their RMC and consultant population are actually doing okay. If you deal with a difficult client-side contact, they may be…

  1. …an unpleasant individual; overwhelmed with their role/cannot handle stress well (not your fault);
  2. …have a challenging corporate culture in their firm (stay away); or
  3. …not happy with the RMC (not necessarily you but possibly other areas of support).

Don’t let that deter you from finding the right company, the right program, and the right team for your passion and skill-set. It’s out there, promise!

Is it different?

For sure, and there is definitely a learning curve, not just from a skill-set perspective. If you don’t have any previous experience working within an HR department, understanding the dynamics, work-streams, hierarchies, and politics of that environment in addition to learning the job, it can be quite a bit to take in.

However, looking back, having had that RMC background gave me a huge advantage on the mobility side and Mobility Magazine was right: I was instantly able to identify issues, develop solutions, manage the vendors, handle a transition and counsel to assignees of all career levels. My experience gave me a true competitive advantage over Mobility professionals who routinely transition into the role from other areas in HR, such as Benefits or HR Generalist roles.

The key difference to supplier-side positions is all about the questions that come your way. Once an issue reaches the in-house mobility person, either from the RMC, from another vendor, or from the assignee, every question is truly a ‘one-off.’ From the view of the supplier-side, it’s common to encounter the same issues repeatedly because you can only control your vendors to a certain point, and things/challenges routinely arise (as you know). If you’ve been on the supplier-side for 3+ years and have served different clients, you’ve probably seen it all.

On the client-side, if the RMC presents you with an issue chances are they haven’t been able to fix it or it’s out of their scope, then it’s on you to develop solutions in a stimulating and challenging yet difficult environment… multi-stakeholder and hierarchy-sensitive …rather than defaulting to the vendor and asking them to ‘fix it, make it right.’

For new client-side mobility professionals, being in the “weeds of tax and comp” can also be scary and challenging. But, at the end of the day the statement stays true …if you can handle 100-200 moves on the RMC side, you can learn that too …and you always have a vendor support network in place.

How do you land your role?

  • Be a Great Interviewee
  • Market Your Value and Know Your Worth
  • Practice Resilience

Being a good interviewee

Chances are you will be competing against internal candidates with established relationships and existing HR experience, or mobility professionals who come from other in-house roles and have more experience than you. This puts you into a position where you are essentially asking for the opportunity to get experience without having the experience. Are you up for the challenge?

If you’re naturally a shy person who likes to fall into the comfortable interview pattern of ‘just answering the question’ it may be advisable to change your approach and practice a more proactive and dialog-style interview method. During the phone interviews, find out as much as you can about the program and it’s goals; find out about the team; and find out current pain-points …so you can show your value in a more tailored approach when invited onsite.

Marketing Your Value and Knowing Your Worth

This goes back to being a good interviewee. Example: Your background is RMC consulting and the interviewer asks you: “Do you have experience with global tax?” You can answer “I do not but I can learn.” Chances are that response is not going to cut it. Alternatively, it would be better for you to say; “In my current role I manage all relocation sub-vendors, including XYZ tax provider. I am familiar with the concept of global taxation and TEQ and I already counsel on the topic at a high-level and further, I partner with our compensation team on assignee issues. I am confident that I can apply that experience to counseling your employees, investigate problems, and develop solutions in partnership with your vendors and internal stakeholders.”

See the difference? The hiring manager, if experienced in Mobility, will already know from your resume what your experience level is in certain areas of expertise. Since you don’t know what you don’t know, your best bet is to anticipate interview questions, understand your experience and how it brings value. Prepare your response in order to install confidence in the interviewer by showcasing your transferable skills, your aptitude and your desire to learn. Remember, good companies hire aptitude over skill whenever they can.


When interviewing for client-side roles understand that it’s a learning process and sometimes a lengthy one. As with anything else in life, practice makes perfect. You get a feeling for what questions will be regularly thrown your way. It’s important to know that if you’re selective about company culture, the program itself (geographical and cultural preferences, in-sourced/outsourced, etc.), and selective about the mobility skill-set of your future leader, then you may be looking for an extended period. If your objective is to get-a-foot-in-the-door in order to get experience and if you are not worried about finding a ‘long term home’, then you may be successful in getting a position much quicker.

Another factor to keep in mind from an expectation-setting standpoint is that the Global Mobility talent marketplace is currently a highly competitive, yet specialized field. Depending on where you are located, mobility talent opportunities may be fewer compared with other HR opportunities, for example an HR Generalist. Therefore, being open to relocating will increase your chances for a faster placement.

Lastly, stay confident.

As an RMC consultant or manager, you bring a wealth of knowledge to the table. Keep in mind that every mobility program is different and every mobility team has a different need for talent. Not all programs have the headcount to train a new team member, some employers truly need a candidate who already knows it all and can hit the ground running with minimal training time. Knowing that, keep your interview approach open-minded, proactive, and ask the right questions during your phone interviews because successfully doing it will, in their mind, determine if you would be a good fit. That way, you can focus on interview opportunities that are realistically worth your time and passion. You will find being selective and prepared will not only shorten your search, it will create self-confidence about your value proposition thus enhancing your negotiating position with your future leader with specific regard to your experience, your capabilities, and your financial worth.

About the Author:

Elisabeth Hauss GMS offers career-support services to supplier-side Global Mobility Professionals who wish to transition into client-side global mobility roles. She holds four years of impactful, fast-track, award-winning, transactional and strategic experience in global mobility in addition to serving global customers in the areas of luxury retail, global marketing sales, and project management. Today, she leverages her RMC experience as program manager for the global side of the overall mobility program at Bridgestone Americas Global Mobility. Her passion and her areas of accomplishments are operations excellence, policy benchmarking, synergy development for RMC/clients, and mobility cost-containment. Elisabeth is bilingual, a native of Germany where she was born, raised, and educated. She holds M.Ed. and M.A. in International Studies and Marketing and complements her career in mobility by having experienced the ‘assignee experience’ first-hand. Elisabeth has lived and worked in Europe and New Zealand before relocating into the United States. She can be contacted through LinkedIn.

KPMG: Global CEO Outlook


How to do better business inside Washington Beltway


Here’s how to do better business inside the Washington Beltway: UNDERSTAND the ‘4 PILLARS’ of Washington™

  1. GOVERNMENT; Executive, Judicial, Legislative
  2. COMMERCIAL; business, global financial institutions
  3. POLICY; academia, think tanks, associations/orgs
  4. MEDIA; old/new

Charles Brooks
Sutherland Global as Gov’t Relations, Marketing VP

• @ChuckDBrooks

Washington is an eclectic city. It is a metropolis that is thriving economically and socially. Its architectural design is modeled after Paris and it is certainly a city of cultural diversity and historically interesting neighborhoods. Visually, the site of the monuments reflecting against the panoramic backdrop of the Potomac River is memorable for both visitors and native Washingtonians alike.

It is really a city like no other city in America. Although it may be geographically small, Washington serves as the engine of government, an anchor of global financial policy and representation, a seat of institutionalized policymaking organizations, and as a growing center for business, especially in high tech.

When I first came to Washington, I was overwhelmed by the intensity of life “inside the Beltway.” I was enamored with all it had to offer (“Potomac Fever”) but uncertain how to navigate it and decipher how things worked. Looking back, I would like to offer structure and pathways for others contemplating a public service career or seeking to accomplish tangible objectives for policy and/or business purposes in the nation’s capital.

There are four pillars that comprise the foundation of the operational world of Washington:

  • government (executive, judicial and legislative branches);
  • commercial (business, including global financial institutions);
  • policy: (academia, think tanks and associations/organizations); and
  • media (old and new).

These pillars function both individually and collectively. They are intertwined and to be effective, it is essential to understand their roles and impact on what you hope to accomplish. Understanding and gaining experience within these pillars that comprise the operational system of Washington takes focus and time. Success can be realized by navigating the pillars and establishing a strategy of strategic relationship building and connecting.


There has never been any doubt that government and politics make Washington tick. Government is not only the basis for tens of thousands of jobs in the area, but it also serves as the fulcrum for evolving and communicating domestic and international policies. Government is the center for laws and executive orders overseeing all aspects of our daily life and our professions. The Pentagon, intelligence agencies, and Department of Homeland Security are all based in Washington because it is the epicenter of power and decision-making. Government in Washington is by design structured as a system of check and balances. An understanding of how the various branches of government function is essential to influencing any regulatory outcome whether it be energy, healthcare or a national security issue. Working on Capitol Hill is invaluable experience and connects to all the pillars and is a special pedigree for mobility in one’s career.


Although it is not a financial center like New York, Washington has been transforming over the years as a commercial hub. The World Bank, Federal Reserve, International Financial Corporation and the Chamber of Commerce are some of the organizations headquartered in the city. Many corporations have also relocated to the area to be near the action and position themselves for government and commercial opportunities. Both Virginia and Maryland have established high-tech corridors close to the city for those reasons. The international community with their embassies and trade groups increasingly see Washington as a growing center for commerce.


It is not only the pillars of business and government that are cogs in the machine. Policy organizations (such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Brookings Institution, the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute and the Aspen Institute) that provide issue expertise, training and solutions are really the enabling fuel. A myriad of think tanks offer the latest insights in domestic and global events on a regular basis. Top local universities (such as Johns Hopkins’s School of Advanced International Studies, George Washington, Georgetown, American, George Mason, and Maryland), also promote dialogue and informed decision-making and access. The over 6,000 associations and organization with issue specific interests regularly outreach to key decision–makers who are part of the public and private sector pillars. Strategic communications and thought leadership are integral tools for persuasion.


The media are disseminators of information, with the duty to circumspect the activities of the other three pillars. The media’s role is a fundamental one; any system of democratic government cannot operate without transparency and oversight. In Washington, most of the country’s key media outlets have representation. Outside traditional old media, new media has become a force to consider. Most citizens have constant access and the metrics of public opinion are constantly pulsed. Corporate executives and government leaders use the social media, especially LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter as part of their work environments. Government 2.0 and Business 2.0 are becoming the norms.

Working in one or all of the pillars is helpful in terms of building issue expertise, contacts and gaining a holistic perspective of how Washington really works. This experience can provide the tactical knowledge to advance your marketing efforts and/or cause in the public/private world. There is no substitute for experience and for building a personal network to be empowered and effective. To be successful, you have to always keep abreast of the latest trends and be visible and helpful to your customer. In the Washington arena, you also have to develop the qualities for resilience and persistence as no one is always on the winning side of issues and contracts.

Washington will always have its image challenges and be an enigma as to how it functions, especially to those who have never experienced life inside the Beltway. Exploring and experiencing the four pillars will bring an understanding of how to navigate a path to success for those who come to this amazing city to make a difference and leave a positive legacy.

Brooks serves as vice president/client executive for DHS at Xerox. He served in government at the DHS as the first director of legislative affairs for the science & technology directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and was adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins University where he taught homeland security and Congress. Brooks has an M.A. in international relations from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in political science from DePauw University. He is widely published on the subjects of innovation, public/private partnerships, emerging technologies and issues of cybersecurity. He can be followed on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks.

The above article, in part, appeared in The Hill. GlobalBusinessNews aggregates, edits or adapts news and information for its global readership and the CorporateRelationsNetwork, now in over 200 countries, according to Google.

FBI counter-intelligence… How to Communicate Better

Are you a good communicator?

It’s a 2-way street…

FBI says to consider these 10 Techniques for building rapport with anyone

…learning how to connect with people who are very different than you…

via Eric Barker TIME

Robin Dreeke is head of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program. In his book, It’s Not All About “Me”: The Top Ten Techniques for Building Quick Rapport with Anyone, he simply and clearly spells out methods for connecting with people.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the methods.

1) Establish artificial time constraints

Nobody wants to feel trapped in an awkward conversation with a stranger.

Robin often begins a conversation with something along the lines of, “I’m on my way out but before I left I wanted to ask you…”

Have you ever been sitting in a bar, an airport, a library, or browsing in a bookstore when a stranger tried to start a conversation with you? Did you feel awkward or on your guard? The conversation itself is not necessarily what caused the discomfort. The discomfort was induced because you didn’t know when or if it would end. For this reason, the first step in the process of developing great rapport and having great conversations is letting the other person know that there is an end in sight, and it is really close.

2) Make Sure Your Body Language is In Sync

Make sure your words and body language are aligned and both are non-threatening. A simple smile is the most powerful nonverbal technique, as Dale Carnegie let us know.

When you walk into a room with a bunch of strangers, are you naturally drawn to those who look angry and upset or those with smiles and laughing? Smiling is the number one nonverbal technique you should utilize to look more accommodating. In Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” it is principle number two of six.

3) Speak Slowly

Quick speech can sound nervous and jumpy, not confident. Crazy people speak quickly; self-assured people speak slowly.

When individuals speak slowly and clearly, they tend to sound more credible than those who speak quickly.

4) Ask For Help

When a request is small, we naturally feel a connection to those who ask us for help. Have you ever felt a pang of guilt for turning down someone seeking help? I have personally found that there is no greater theme and tool for eliciting individuals for action, information, and a great conversation than the use of sympathy or assistance. Think for a moment about the times in your life when you have either sought assistance or been asked to provide it. When the request is simple, of limited duration, and non-threatening, we are more inclined to accommodate the request. As human beings, we are biologically conditioned to accommodate requests for assistance.

5) Suspend Your Ego

Avoid correcting people or anything that could be interpreted as one-upmanship. Just listen. You don’t need to tell your story; just encourage them to keep telling theirs.

Suspending your ego is nothing more complex than putting other individuals’ wants, needs, and perceptions of reality ahead of your own. Most times, when two individuals engage in a conversation, each patiently waits for the other person to be done with whatever story he or she is telling. Then, the other person tells his or her own story, usually on a related topic and often times in an attempt to have a better and more interesting story. Individuals practicing good ego suspension would continue to encourage the other individual to talk about his or her story, neglecting their own need to share what they think is a great story… Those individuals who allow others to continue talking without taking their own turn are generally regarded as the best conversationalists. These individuals are also sought after when friends or family need someone to listen without judgment. They are the best at building quick and lasting rapport.

6) Validate Others

The simplest way to do this is to listen. The simplest validation that can be given to another individual is simply listening. The action doesn’t require any proactive effort aside from the incessant need each of us has to tell our own story… The difficulty most of us have is keeping from interjecting our own thoughts, ideas, and stories during the conversation. True validation coupled with ego suspension means that you have no story to offer, that you are there simply to hear theirs.

7) Ask: How? When? Why? Ask open-ended questions.

One of the key concepts that every great interviewer or conversationalist knows is to ask open ended questions. Open ended questions are ones that don’t require a simple yes or no answer. They are generally questions that require more words and thought. Once the individual being targeted in the conversation supplies more words and thought, a great conversationalist will utilize the content given and continue to ask open ended questions about the same content. The entire time, the individual being targeted is the one supplying the content of the conversation. Dreeke also recommends using a number of standard FBI active listening techniques you can read about here.

8) Quid Pro Quo

Some people don’t speak much. Other times you listen too well and people feel self-conscious about talking so much. In these two cases it’s good to give a piece of personal information for every one they reveal to get a flow going.

In my experiences, there are really only two types of situations where I have utilized quid pro quo. The first and more common of the instances is when you attempt to converse with someone who is either very introverted, guarded, or both.

The second instance is when the person you are conversing with suddenly becomes very aware about how much they have been speaking, and they suddenly feel awkward. In both instances, giving a little information about you will help alleviate some of the issues.

9) Give A Gift

Reciprocation is deeply wired into human nature. When you offer people something, they will naturally feel the need to help you in return. Doesn’t have to be a big box with a bow on it. Offering someone anything, tangible or not, counts.

Most people would feel badly if they received a gift and forgot to say or send a thank you note to the giver. When someone does you a favor you most likely want to reciprocate with gratitude. Great rapport builders and conversationalists use this desire proactively during every conversation. This technique, coupled with ego suspension, are the cornerstones for building great relationships. This is also the easiest technique to utilize, because gifts come in many forms, from non-material compliments, to tangible material gifts.

10) Managing Your Own Expectations

If you don’t manage your expectations properly it can lead to disappointment, resentment and anger. Play it cool. Focus on the other person’s needs and don’t let your expectations rise.

When we are able to shift or manage our expectations, we reduce potential disappointment. When we are disappointed, we sometimes get angry and may even hold grudges and get hurt feelings. These emotions are not conducive to healthy or long term relationships. These emotions are definitely not conducive to developing quick rapport. The best technique to avoid these emotions is to manage expectations.

A number of the ten methods are similar to those espoused by other FBI specialists I have interviewed, including former head of international hostage negotiation, Chris Voss, and FBI profiler Jim Clemente.

The Right Attitude

And what does Robin say is the best attitude to take when trying to build rapport? Make sure the other person walks away better for having met you.

Before I use these techniques or send any class out to practice these techniques, I remind myself and them of one everlasting rule that will dramatically increase your probability of success; it is all about them. The only goal I have either for myself or the individuals I teach is that in every interaction the other person should walk away feeling much better for having met you. You should brighten their day and listen to them when no one else will. Build that connection where others wouldn’t and you will have mastered both conversations and quick rapport.

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