Sharon Brandt – Client Services Manager is the head of Crown’s World Mobility Division, annually managing the relocation of over 2500 corporate customers on behalf of Crown’s managed accounts.
Sharon has been with Crown World Mobility New Zealand for over 17 years, she is also the 2018 winner of the Asia Pacific EMMA for Mobility Professional of the Year. Recently we had the opportunity to learn more about her and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the relocation and immigration landscape.
Tell us about your role…
“We offer a wide range of services designed to support employee’s relocating permanently or on assignment all around the world, and our team work tirelessly to ensure that each and every one is delivered to the very highest standard.”
Your time with Crown…
“It’s been an amazing journey, with some significant highlights. One of my proudest achievements was having our team nominated by Fonterra (and winning) in the APAC region as Vendor of the year, and then also being nominated by Fonterra and Air New Zealand jointly for Mobility Professional of the year in APAC, which I’m proud to say, I won. One of our senior team members was awarded the Crown Caring nomination award of the year – and anyone who has had the pleasure of having Janet Kirk manage their move, I’m sure will echo these sentiments.”
What you enjoy most about the job…
“I have the pleasure of leading a very compassionate, intelligent team. We work alongside our corporate clients and deliver support based on their individual needs for each of their employees, providing support and guidance during one of the most stressful times in their lives.
Relocating is fraught with emotions and it’s important to balance empathy with the all-important processes and procedures which are inherently required with compliance related elements such as immigration and country import / export laws.
I love my role, having the opportunity to develop solutions that really support our corporate clients strategies and needs. Working closely with their teams to meet common goals can be incredibly stressful at times, but extremely fulfilling. No one day is the same, and I enjoy the excitement of navigating an ever-changing environment.”
What impact has COVID-19 had on the workplace?
“From a corporate perspective for our team it’s all hands on deck, helping them solve challenging repatriation situations / immigration challenges / packing without the transferee being in the country / negotiating tricky lease endings among other things. We were able to really quickly mobilise through what was and is very chaotic times and as a result have been successfully navigating the new immigration frontier in both NZ and offshore, along with developing a very successful framework for virtually delivered services. We’ve had great success in securing new homes for arrivals to move into directly from managed isolation, minimising the cost of accommodation and stress on the individual and their family which can be created by multiple moves and extended disruption.
From our team’s perspective it’s certainly caused a rethink of how we work, when we work, and how we as a team stay in touch. Our team interacts with each other continuously during the day (pre-COVID), so when we have to work remotely – without that interaction, it presented its own challenges. Most important is to make sure we have daily catch ups, we make sure we engage frequently on microsoft teams / WhatsApp etc, this prevents anyone from feeling lonely or overwhelmed and unsupported. We even had a Friday after work wine meeting – just to sip a wine and talk about our week gone by.”
What are the main challenges?
“Most important is to ensure the wellbeing of the employee, family and their possessions. Many employees were caught away from their host countries on holiday or work, unable to return to either their home or host country, the borders were shut suddenly and they were unable to travel, families have been split. You can imagine the stress that these people are going through, along with an overwhelming feeling of uncertainty. Communication and empathy is the absolute key, sometimes we would be speaking several times a day to clients in our care over several weeks, who simply couldn’t get flights were stuck. As a result, our team had to get very creative, no stone was left unturned and there were certainly huge celebrations once we were able to get them here.”
Something cool in our industry that our customers might not know about…
“Our team manage a wide range of services from here in New Zealand on behalf of our corporate clients, which take place in any country in the world. Our role is to ensure these are managed seamlessly and in alignment with our client’s expectations, culture and policies. This means one day we might be navigating the immigration process in Singapore, the next it could be finding a home in Amsterdam. We use our ‘on the ground’ resources in each country as they have the local expertise to facilitate the processes, but as a result we get the opportunity to dive head first into a multitude of different cultures. I don’t know of any other industries where you get to learn the intimate details of a country and culture in this way. Our team have also taken the opportunity to partake in our Intercultural Training programmes to help us better support and communicate with the teams and individuals we work with on a daily basis, we’re very fortunate to have this opportunity.”
Outside of work you like to….
“To be perfectly honest – I like to be quiet. Sitting in a quiet spot reading, preferable with nature around me, the sound of birdlife / the sea, anywhere peaceful. I am very adventurous when it comes to food and will try just about anything offered. Gardening is also something I love doing, I have a bit of a green thumb – so it’s rewarding to see plants grow and the garden looking all neat and tidy.”
“Faith is taking the first step – even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”