Building a new, flexible template for Global Mobility

17/09/2021, by Connla Stokes

The Head of Global Mobility Management at Siemens Global Business Services (GBS) – Tobias Nehls and his team are offering their expertise to external clients. We spoke to him about this exciting development as well as his vision for the future.

Major mobility team

As many of our readers will know, Siemens Global Mobility Management is the trusted partner in the planning and coordination of short- and long-term international assignments and international local hire for Siemens AG and its affiliated companies. There’s a team with more than 350 employees at GMM, all working behind the scenes to bring people to the ‘right place at the right time’. ​

New horizons

Besides overseeing mobility for Siemens and various affiliated companies, Nehls’ team also onboarded their first external customer on January 1st, 2021. “We have increasingly been receiving requests from companies looking for a trusted mobility partner. To some extent, we were already doing this – Siemens Energy is now a stand-alone entity and we have continued to support their mobility needs,” says Nehls. “Commercially it made sense to expand, so, once we identified the right client, we decided the timing was right to move in this direction.”

A learning experience

“You might say we have only bitten off what we can chew! Our new customer has 50 global assignees so it’s well within our capabilities. When it makes sense to expand further, we will,” says Nehls, adding that his team has already learned from this experience. “We are dealing with a very different company culture, so the expectations and feedback from the employees in some cases took us by surprise. But for me this is healthy. Hearing new or different perspectives – or even experiencing a conflict – gives us insights. That’s what helps us to learn and adapt.”

Always be adapting

An ability to adapt is clearly something that Nehls wants stitched into the DNA of his team: “Through 2020, as a result of the pandemic, my colleagues and I noticed that we had been working quite differently. We had to be more flexible and act quickly. That inevitably meant taking more risks. But on seeing many positive results, the obvious question we had to ask ourselves was: ‘What’s stopping us working like this all the time?’”

Empowered personnel

“For large multinationals, there will always be some amount of standardisation for Global Mobility. We have to manage over 130,000 international business trips per year. That requires processes. But we want to balance that standardisation with the flexibility that allows us to come up with the right idea at the right moment. To achieve this, I have placed an emphasis on empowering my team so they can act decisively, regardless of hierarchies, when needed.”

Nuanced approach

“Global Mobility has always been a fast changing industry anyway. Changing legislation. Shifting demands. When circumstances like Covid occur, or something like Brexit, there’s no handbook for that,” continues Nehls to explain why his team can be more effective with a nuanced and flexible approach. “To future proof our services as best we can, we need to be able to react when surprises come along, as they always do.”

A diverse portfolio

This tactile approach to mobility also allows Nehls’ team to be more intuitive and compassionate when it comes to individuals. “We have people travelling from 106 countries to 199 destination countries / territories and over 1,500 active assignments as well as over 27,000 international workers distributed worldwide. We operate everywhere, even Antarctica! So, it’s an extremely diverse portfolio. If we rely solely on processes, we will lose sight of individual needs, which are crucial to assignment success.”

Photo: Tobias Nehls, Head of Global Mobility Management at Siemens Global Business Services (GBS)

Read more: New chapter for a trusted partnership

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