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The Year of New Horizons: Leading with Purpose Through Mobility’s Opportunities and Challenges

We’re a few weeks into 2023 and while I’m realistic about the challenges on the near horizon – regarding both our industry and  global market – I’m also optimistic about the possibilities for talent mobility this year. I’ve seen what the Graebel team can accomplish, and I know that by working together, remaining agile and demonstrating the value of mobility, we will continue to lead our industry.

Graebel is declaring 2023 the “Year of New Horizons.” Together with our supplier partners, we will rise above the hurdles and look to the opportunities ahead. For our clients, the “Year of New Horizons” theme encourages them to see the value of talent mobility and its positive impacts on their organizations, now and in the future, while helping demonstrate mobility’s worth. We hope the mobile employees and families we serve feel a sense of excitement about the new horizons they’ll see as they begin assignments. Lastly, for us at Graebel, we have new vistas ahead as we focus on optimizing operations, resources and technology in all regions of the world to best meet our clients’ needs.

2022 Accomplishments

Before we turn to the outlook for 2023, I’d like to thank our employees, clients and suppliers for a tremendous 2022. Here are a few of the Graebel team’s key accomplishments from last year:

  • Continued growth. We demonstrated strong performance as a company as it relates to financial, operational, technological, and new and retained business — thanks to the hard work of our talented team, essential partnerships with our trusted suppliers and the purposeful guidance of our leaders. In fact, we beat our company record of annual initiations by more than 10 percent. 
  • Continued progress on our sustainability efforts. We continued our sustainability journey alongside our supplier partners, clients and industry colleagues. As we focused on each facet of the journey — environmental, social and governance (ESG) — I’m particularly proud of our diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts to create inclusive workplaces and mobility programs. I’m also delighted with our board of directors for being recognized as a Private Company Board of the Year. Our ESG, sustainability and diversity work is making a difference and I’m grateful for the leadership and commitment of our teams. 
  • Connecting and empowering people in person. As a profession that celebrates the value of in-person presence for business leadership, we were thrilled to resume our live events. In 2022 we hosted our first in-person gathering in EMEA since 2019, insideMOBILITY® Berlin, and hosted our remarkable supplier partners at our Partner Alliance Conference. I also had the chance to resume my travels and visit all our global offices to hear about the challenges and opportunities our teams are navigating. All of these in-person touchpoints were chances to build relationships, elevate the global mobility industry and help our network – employees, clients and supplier partners – provide exceptional experiences for mobile employees.

2023 Trends and Key Initiatives

Our team’s ability to weather the challenges of 2022 will benefit us in 2023, allowing us to build on what we’ve learned and tested, because some of these obstacles will persist. Here are four key trends I anticipate we’ll experience this year:

  • Providing value amid calls for cost efficiencies. Central banks have raised interest rates to combat high inflation and that’s leading to fears of an economic slowdown in developed economies around the world. Combined with increased costs due to supply chain and labor challenges and tight housing markets, companies are seeking cost reductions across the board, including from mobility. In 2023, global mobility teams will be tasked with doing more, including filling open positions, creating policies for managing work from anywhere and compliance solutions. They’ll also need to focus on enabling successful assignments and convincing mobile employees to accept relocation opportunities – all while delivering exceptional experiences and facing pressures like never before, including a growing reluctance to relocate due to cost pressures. As mobility managers are entrusted with finding cost savings, practicing mindful mobility, or finding the balance between positive employee experiences and strategic approaches to efficiency and cost management, will remain critical. It’ll also be important to continue helping corporate mobility teams make the case for the value of mobility to their leadership teams as an investment in talent management strategies, including recruiting and retaining talent; preparing future leaders that are globally savvy and culturally aware; and increasing the potential talent pool to foster DEI. 
  • Responding to geopolitical challenges. Mobility managers must have the foresight to anticipate and prepare for potential far-reaching impacts of geopolitical events. The war in Ukraine is approaching its one-year anniversary, tensions between China and Taiwan remain high, the post-Brexit UK continues to disentangle itself from the EU, and the world’s 12th largest economy, Brazil, is experiencing a high level of internal political strife. These and other events have potential ripple effects for mobile employees and mobility programs, requiring quick, innovative solutions from global mobility teams.  Graebel will continue to provide information and people-first assistance, applying the lessons learned in tumultuous times over the past two years. Our insideMOBILITY® global event series and Insights sections of our website will continue to be resources to help mobility professionals navigate the landscape and rise to the occasion all year long.
  • Adopting new ways to meet client and consumer needs digitally. The pandemic changed how we all utilize technology, especially in the mobility industry. Our team leveraged our people-first technology — which brings together people and technology to provide personalized support — to develop digital tools that helped assignees find housing, obtain visas and work permits and ship household belongings, lessening the need for in-person contact. Habits and preferences formed during COVID will persist, with a continued reliance on doing business digitally. That’s why we’re focused on delivering exceptional user experiences. For example, we’ve enhanced our CitySwitcher digital marketplace, to help lump sum mobile employees find supplier partners that fit their unique relocation needs, more quickly and easily – and why we’re making this platform available to anyone who is relocating, regardless of whether or not they’re a Graebel client or moving for a company assignment.
  • Optimizing operations and technology. Graebel is evolving around the world, and part of that evolution must also get even better. As our clients face multiple barriers to relocation, it’s our duty to help mobility professionals demonstrate to their leaders the value of talent mobility for meeting a variety of company goals. In the year ahead, we’ll focus on how we can best support and guide companies through this evolving landscape toward the horizon of realizing mobility’s full potential and value within global organizations. That means devoting resources to building and sustaining our technology, including optimizing our operations through expanding our integration practices, automation and digitization so that our teams have access to more data and information faster than ever before. Plus, as we accelerate our adoption of new technology to meet our clients’ preferences, protecting customers’ data and privacy must remain an integral part of our strategy.

While we all work to address these broader trends in 2023, my personal challenge is to lead our company in redefining goodness for the talent mobility industry. I want to reimagine how we morally and ethically create exceptional relocation experiences for our clients, partner with our suppliers and build a positive environment for our employees. My goal is to highlight the human aspect of relocation, which is part of our DNA at Graebel. We’ve already begun this work – for example, through our DEI Talent Mobility Consulting Services and Mobile Employee Journey Map – and I’m eager to partner with our extraordinary leaders to build on these efforts, help our clients focus on their own employee experience and enable their organizations to thrive through mobility. 

As we begin the “Year of New Horizons” together, I hope you share my sense of excitement for everything we can accomplish in 2023, no matter what challenges the year may bring. The long-term future of our company and the mobility industry is bright, and by leading with purpose over the next 12 months, we can reach new horizons – and prepare to go beyond. Here’s to the world ahead.

About the Author

Bill Graebel serves as the Chair and Chief Executive Officer of Graebel Companies, Inc. Since joining the company in 1975, he has served in many roles, including General Manager; Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing; President of Graebel Movers and Graebel Movers International divisions and Chief Operating Officer. Under Mr. Graebel’s leadership, Graebel Companies, Inc., has experienced rapid and sustained growth, and the company now provides services in 165 countries. Thanks to his efforts, Graebel is an industry leader in global relocation management services, supporting clients worldwide in accordance with the company’s core values of Truth, Love and Integrity. His peers also recognize Mr. Graebel as a leader in the relocation industry. He frequently speaks and lectures at industry events worldwide and has served on the Board of Directors of Worldwide ERC®. Mr. Graebel earned a bachelor's degree in economics and political science from Colorado College and has received the Distinguished Service Award and Senior Global Mobility Specialist designation from Worldwide ERC.

Profile Photo of Bill Graebel