Interview: Rising up in the family relocation business

Have you recently been promoted within your relocation organisation? Or, do you have the ambition to evolve and take on more responsibilities? Then you will want to read this article carefully.

My name is Isabelle Harsch and – as a FIDI 39 Club member – I strongly believe in sharing experiences and learning from each other. That’s why I asked a few of my fellow 39 Club members how close connections to the families that established the businesses they work for relates to success, satisfaction and pressure?

In the second part of this feature, I will be finding out about the experiences of non-family members moving up within their organisations.

Presenting: our panel

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The burden of a family-connection

Daniela: Going to work in a family business is not easy. I did feel that people may judge me because of it. But I think it helped a lot that I had already worked for more than 7 years in other companies and I was able to share my previous knowledge with the team.

Thomas: I feel pressure, but I don’t think it’s uniquely due to the family connection. Any time you’re responsible for people or certain outcomes it can be taxing, regardless if it’s a family business or not.

“ The first role I had was sweeping the warehouse floor. Now I’m the International General Manager. ”– Thomas

Patrick: Like in any job, it actually helps to have a bit of pressure to deliver what’s expected of you – good objectives and goals help. Always be humble and give your best at all times.


Your biggest challenge?

Patrick:  As a young person, and in the family business, probably dealing with colleagues that have been there longer than you and/or are older than you. But instead of trying to be a threat, open up and show them why you were chosen for that specific new role and how the team can reach its goals together.

Daniela:  One of the biggest challenges has been to be a good team leader. I’ve never been in a position before where I had to lead a group of people. But I’ve learned that trusting yourself is key for every challenge you find. And the biggest satisfaction you can find is seeing good results.

“ My dad has owned the company for 38+ years, but in order to apply my expertise, I first had to understand how the business works. ” – Daniela

Thomas:  The biggest challenge in a new role for me is getting used to the personalities of the new teamnI’m working with. 
People are motivated by different things, and teams have their own power dynamics; so as the new person coming in, everything goes into flux and sometimes there can be friction.


Have you sought guidance?

Daniela:  Definitely my biggest mentors have been the people I’ve met during the FIDI Conferences. Hearing about their experiences, their challenges, and how they face them, has been the richest experience I’ve had.

Thomas:  I’m lucky as there are a lot of mentors at the office to seek guidance from. There are colleagues who have been in the industry most of their lives who are not only great at giving advice as it pertains to relocations, but also advice on life in general. 

I’d say I seek them out for guidance at least a couple of times a week, if not daily. We have a very open office that encourages this type of interaction.

Patrick:  Actually, I find my greatest inspiration in travelling, outdoors and sports.


Any advice for younger pros?

Patrick:  Always give your best and a bit more; do it honourably and in a humble manner. Your boss in charge might not notice now, soon they will, but others do too – hang on.

“ I always try to keep up my learning, for example by attending FIDI Academy-courses. ” – Patrick

Daniele: I think it is very important to look for guidance always. There are things that no university will teach you and the best way to learn is from past experiences. Also, I will say that communication is vital in every aspect of the corporate world.

Thomas:  Learn what it takes to make teams function at a high level. Once you get high enough up the ladder it becomes less about the output you produce and more about the output you can get a team to produce.

Read the second part of the interview here.

Want to connect, learn and share along with us?

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