… but a colorful and diversified one! My name is Philip Wehmann and I work in Global Mobility at Bayer Direct Services GmbH in Leverkusen with colleagues from a range of countries. Together, we look after people on international assignments throughout the Bayer Group.
Around 900 Bayer employees spend between six months and several years working at a location outside their home country. Many of them are deployed as experts or are taking the next step in their career development within Bayer. Following initiation of the process by the relevant department, we, the case managers at Global Mobility, are responsible for the transfer. Our job continues beyond the employee’s arrival in the host country: we are the contact for all assignees and their line managers during foreign assignments, even if they last for several years. Our service only ends when they have been repatriated and reintegrated in their home country. There are a range of directives/policies to ensure fairness and transparency for all assignees, whether they are single or accompanied by their family. We are supported by our colleagues in the Mobility Administration team, who are responsible for the complex and highly demanding salary calculations, and by the Mobility Consultants, who advise managers and HR Business Partners before the transfer process is initiated.
What do you find particularly fascinating about your job?
The most interesting aspect of my job is the environment I work in: the employees I am responsible for come from all over the world and are transferred to a wide range of host countries. In the morning I might discuss an upcoming assignment in Bolivia with an Australian manager. Later in the morning, I might talk to a business partner in Thailand about the pay package for an assignee in Germany, and in the afternoon there could be online conferences with our service providers in the United States about the current housing situation in San Francisco.
Another exciting aspect of my job is communicating with a wide range of different employee groups: research scientists, controllers, medical experts, sales reps, trainees, lawyers, engineers and so on. Our global assignees are drawn from all levels, from non-managerial employees to members of the Board of Management. Naturally, our working language is English. The issues addressed are very varied and are handled in cooperation with external partners. We deal with visas, language tuition, security and intercultural training, packing and shipping household effects, living in the host country, financial benefits, schools, transportation, pay, taxes and social security, to name only the most important.
How did you come to work in Mobility?
I studied sociology with a specialism in human resources management and gained my first professional experience – apart from internships – at an automotive company. There I learned the basics about international assignments. I come from the Lower Saxony region of Germany and moved to the Cologne area for personal reasons. Besides, I was attracted to Bayer as an employer and an interesting and innovative company. I was really happy when I received a job offer faster than I had expected after my interview. I did have one personal conflict to resolve at the time: I also had a job offer from another sector, where I would quickly have gained a managerial role, but not in an international context. I’m glad I opted for Bayer! Since joining the company I’ve often realized how happy it makes me to work in an international environment and interact directly with people from a varied range of backgrounds, with diverse religious and philosophical views, sexual orientations and values. However, we all share the rules of conduct set for the Bayer Group worldwide, which strengthen and drive forward respect, openness, efficiency and integrity. At first sight, that probably seems like any other big company. However, the difference is that such values are really lived at Bayer, even though in some situations that means we don’t take the easiest option.
Why do you like working for Bayer?
I look forward to seeing my colleagues every day. That may not sound particularly imaginative, but I really mean it. Our team has a lot of fun, there’s a lot of hilarity, but also an exceptionally high level of mutual support and commitment. Our team-building events are always a highlight and show why working here is special: a lakeside climbing center and trips to Paris and Amsterdam are recent highlights. Personal development is also very important at Bayer. I’ve just spent two weeks “job shadowing” (you quickly develop an immunity to internal jargon), where I spent my worktime with colleagues from the University and Talent Relations team. I was able to go with them to the Sticks & Stones recruitment fair in Berlin and the Enactus National Cup in Wuppertal. I also spent an afternoon with Bayer interns exploring Bayer’s park for geo-caching. Things like that sound like nothing more than fun events but preparing and running them and the follow-up afterwards are very time-consuming for the colleagues involved. In those two weeks, I only gained an overview of the wide-ranging work of the University & Talent Relations team, but that was exactly the purpose of the exercise! It was an opportunity to immerse myself in a different department and find out whether I really could imagine working there as part of my development. I find such opportunities particularly attractive because they are not a matter of course at large companies.
So is everything really absolutely super?
Definitely not. Feedback – including negative feedback – is normally very direct. It may come from a dissatisfied assignee or an irritated line manager. Since an assignment is a big change in the life of the employee – and often of his/her whole family – I find that perfectly understandable in some cases. After all, we work in a very delicate and responsible field. Our work is challenging and requires us to take responsibility, and that cannot always be fun.
Even so, I would take exactly the same decision again, because the pros far outweigh the cons. In my experience Bayer is very different from other employers in many respects. Bayer is the best and preferred employer for me, given my desire for exceptional experiences accompanied by a lot of variety, an international workplace and the opportunity to develop different competencies.
This post is also available in: German