The Chief Expat Officer

Global mobility is an odd industry, if you think about it. Traditionally it was dominated by the more or less figure-crunching accountancy firms and international household moving companies. In recent years, the digital transformation opened the market to start-ups that offer expats self-service portals where the expats can take care of the support themselves, leaving the entire process up to the personal preferences of the individual expat.

All of these groups are missing the most crucial aspect of expatriation: the importance of the connection between people. I mean the connection between the employer and the employee. We are in a people business, and only a human approach can make a global mobility provider successful.

I first realised this in 2006. Back then, I was working as an in-house tax manager at a major telco provider. One day my CEO called me saying he realised that his tax return was due that very same day. He called me asking me to set up a meeting with the external tax advisor in order to fix the issue with the tax authorities immediately. They were going to send someone in the next week.. They had no idea that, even though the problem and the financial consequences that came with it were limited, the CEO was extremely nervous and upset.

It made me realise that expatriation is first and foremost a people business. Moving to another country, even if it’s for business purposes, is a personal experience. Everything associated with it feels personal to the expat. Sure, you need someone to take care of housing and paperwork. And yes, you can offer some self-service capabilities via an online portal. But when expats are moving to another country, the thing they need most is personal service; they need to know a person is seeing to their needs and that it’s someone they can rely on. Every client trajectory that we support is different because each individual has their own personal situation, wishes and desires.

Since Boxx was launched in 2006, I have pursued this mission: to bring a human approach to expatriation. I even sometimes joked that my title should have been Chief Expat Officer because we pride ourselves on taking client-centeredness to the extreme. Fortunately, our clients really appreciate the way we treat them; it’s often their personal experience that they value most.

I couldn’t have been prouder, therefore, than when one of our biggest clients presented me with an award for European CEO of the Year to me in 2018. The award is an initiative of the esteemed European CEO Magazine.

I’m grateful to the entire team at Boxx for supporting our mission over the past twelve years. I’m convinced that we are only at the beginning of a fantastic journey towards an even brighter future. More and more, companies realise that expatriation is much more than handling taxes and real estate.

March 24th 2020

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