For Mandy, the decision to move to the Hague with her family was a case of taking an opportunity to walk in the shoes of the people she had spent her career advising.
As a HR professional in global mobility for Shell, there was no better way to understand the experience of the expat and then repat than to live it herself!
Mandy’s journey wasn’t a solo one – she left Melbourne for the Netherlands in 2008 with her husband and her 18 month old son. She reflects that the expat journey was different for every family member. For her engineer husband, the early years were focused on looking after their young son whilst trying to study in a foreign language. When they moved to Poland, he pursued remote learning and has created a new career path. For their son, he arrived in Australia on the cusp of high-school as a ‘third-culture’ kid with no experience of what it is like to grow up Australian.
In some respects, it was Mandy’s day-to-day world with Shell that was the most consistent. She talks about the expat experience for family members being ‘not static’. It changes all the time for those who have had to adjust around the family member with the job and it is important to ‘check-in’ regularly.
After a decade overseas, Mandy relocated back to Melbourne with Shell, only to find that the Australian head-office had moved to Perth! However, her experience of working as part of a global team where working remotely and across different time zones is the norm meant this wasn’t a hurdle and she was probably more prepared for COVID than most of us.