An enlightening chat about new challenges and adaptation with Marina Wunsch, Global Mobility Specialist at Wildlife.
Wildlife is a young company, but with great impact. Our more than 70 games have been downloaded two billion times by gamers around the world. And although we are only nine years old, we are a unicorn company with teams working in six global offices – São Paulo (Brazil), Buenos Aires (Argentina), San Francisco (USA), Orange County (USA), Palo Alto (USA), and Dublin (Ireland). We are proud to have a global culture, and to be part of that culture means taking care of our Wilders’ well-being.
So, when we hire the perfect person for a position in a different city to where he/she lives, we do everything to make the experience on mobility (as we call the area responsible for relocating the Wilders between our offices) as simple as possible.
To give you an idea, in the last eight months more than 30 foreign Wilders have been hired and have gone through the mobility process. We’ve had between four and five per month, a number that will increase this year. To share some of this exciting work with you, we talked to our Global Mobility Specialist, Marina Wunsch, who takes us by the hand to show us this area at Wildlife and understand how the processes work to make the foreign Wilders feel as at home as one of the locals.
Marina, what are Mobility processes and what do they need to work well?
The Global Mobility area was created to manage the Wilders’ movements. At the macro level, we are responsible for National moves – for example, when a Wilder needs to move from another state to work in our São Paulo office – and International Moves, when we want to hire someone worldwide with exceptional talent to work in one of our offices.Within the international moves, we work with 4 pillars:
1. Labor legislation. We have to compare the laws of the countries of origin and destination (especially destination) and instruct the new Wilders.
2. Immigration legislation. Regulates work visas and the legalities to reside in the new country.
3. Tax legislation. Understanding what changes when filing for taxes.
4. Interculturality. Adaptation to another culture, life experience in another context.
These four pillars help us achieve global mobility while always observing the laws and reducing the risks for both the employee and the company. It’s an amazing experience. Differences exist, culture shock happens, but we want the transition to be as smooth as possible. If moving into another house in the same city is complicated enough, imagine moving to a different country. So, we treat each move as a project, with various processes and partners involved.
For the visa, our immigration partner provides all the documentation in the country of origin and destination, to be included in the sheet. Our tax advisory partner even helps with the first tax filing. The relocation partner helps with house hunting, schools for children, nearby supermarkets, and with the rental contract of the property. We have a partner in language classes because it’s very important to speak the language. Generally, when people move to Ireland or the USA, they already speak English, but when they come to Brazil or Argentina, they often don’t speak Portuguese or Spanish. We offer a lesson package for the spouse as well. We also have an intercultural partner to assist in the realization of workshops every three or four months with new transferees and sometimes with local collaborators too. Here we work with permanent transfers, so we make it as easily as possible to make the Wilders feel at home.
How were the Mobility processes created at Wildlife and how are they conducted?
Wildlife began its international expansion in 2019. There were already some foreign employees in the company, but each area had made its own mobility. We didn’t have all the processes defined yet and the partners were very local. To solve this, we established global partnerships and a truly international structure, so that the support could be door to door.
We created a flexible Global Mobility policy, following a market trend, and constantly follow the satisfaction of employees hired to make improvements. Today, we have mandatory benefits and services as well as a flexible area, which the person sets up according to his/her needs and the limits of the package. Some want to bring pets, for example. Others would like to spend more days in a hotel to calmly look for a house. This more flexible policy reduces the number of exceptions and makes budget control easier. Global Mobility is a complex and expensive process. The next step we look for is to centralize all processes in a unified platform.
Marina explains the step by step of the process:
1. Offer Letter
Our offer letters today are standardized, with the mobility benefits already in place.
2. Candidate accepts
When the candidate accepts the offer, we receive the initial assignment and get in touch for the briefing call.
3. Briefing call
During the call, we explain to the new Wilder how each process works with their respective providers.
4. Partners take action
After the briefing call, our partners take action. First, immigration, if it is international, because the documentation needs to be completed and adequate to include the employee on the payroll.
5. First visit to the new home
After the visa procedure is completed, conversations begin about the type of housing and other details, such as proximity to the company and schools. From there, an agenda is created, which already provides for an initial visit, usually four days, to check out real estate and everything pertaining to it. After a decision has been made, the relocation partner negotiates the lease. At the same time the new employee receives instructions from the provider about fiscal details. Classes in the new language can also begin before the move, to facilitate the arrival process.
6. Moving out
After all the decisions have been made, and the new employee has all documentation in hand, he/she moves in and follows the normal process of every employee. He/she is now a Wilder.
After arriving at the final destination, when does this process end?
It depends on the profile of the employee. On average, about six months after the move. It takes about three months in the case of a wilder coming from a Mercosur country to Brazil, or from an EU country to Dublin. Brazil represents a more challenging scenario, because it’s difficult, for instance, to find people who speak English on the streets. So, for those who do not speak the language, it will take at least six months. During this period, it’s common to have questions about health insurance or everyday situations that would normally be natural for natives. For example, in the USA it’s common to send a check in the mail. These are particularities that we have to think ahead with foreigners. To facilitate this adaptation in Brazil, we developed a pocket guide of São Paulo. In addition to the suggestions of places, it has tips on everyday life and tips regarding Brazilian culture.
Do you offer any other support to the spouse besides language classes?
Yes, this is one of the flexible policy options. Researches indicate that if the transferee is moving with a dependent, the happiness of the partner is one of the main factors for a better mobility experience. After all, there are cases where the husband or wife needs to drop everything to accompany the hired person. Therefore, many give preference to the type of visa that allows for the spouse to work too. Others prefer to give themselves the right to go on sabbatical.
How long after the arrival does the transferee feel at home?
We consider the expatriation life cycle as a chart with ups and downs with regard to this adaptation. Regarding the cultural factor, we’ve seen that everything begins with the “honeymoon phase”, which is the first three months. It’s like a long touristic trip – lots of discoveries, everything is new, cool, people are amazing. Then the routine begins to set in, the differences become more evident, the weather, things do not work the way you were used to, and there is a longing for friends and family. This is the moment when we must work on the issue of cultural adaptation, the reason the country is the way it is, with a historical explanation. After six months to a year, the transferred person is expected to be more adapted and integrated, understands better the local logic, and is now able to communicate. In some cases, they feel so at home that they don’t want to leave anymore. We work to make that happen.
And what are the differences in the mobility of those who are foreigners with those who already live in the same country?
Relocation within the same country (Domestic Mobility) is much simpler, because it doesn’t involve as many bureaucratic aspects, but we also provide advice when looking for a home, a flexible budget for adaptation and other benefits.
What are the biggest challenges of this whole process?
One of the biggest challenges for those who come to Brazil is the bureaucracy and the language barrier. That’s why we have the mission to make the experience smoother and less painful, offering a lot of support. Sometimes we are surprised by how some people adapt super well to the new environment and everything happens in the blink of an eye. The tip is always to listen to the experts, respond with as much agility as possible and have an open mind for this new journey.
What do you have to say to the foreign readers thinking about working at Wildlife?
First of all, Wildlife values cultural diversity and therefore our mobility program has a policy designed to offer an incredible experience. It’s really nice to work in a company with many different backgrounds, with diverse knowledge, because that’s what the future is about. Everybody’s going to have to know how to handle it. Increasingly, we are becoming global citizens, so we have to learn how to work with cultural differences and understand why that culture thinks differently from yours. This is very rich and it contributes to the success of the company and the people.
How many people have relocated in order to work at Wildlife?
If we count only those who actually required the assistance of the mobility department, there have been 34 in the last eight months. Our average, therefore, is between four and five relocations per month. And that number should increase. Up until April this year we’ve had nine international relocations and 10 domestic ones.
And finally: have you ever gone through a mobility process yourself, as an employee?
When I was 13 my father did a postdoctoral program in France for a year. We didn’t have much advice in this transition. I was still in my teens and had never left Brazil. I didn’t want to leave. Then, that experience opened my mind to the point that I didn’t want to go back. I met lots of people, made many friends. I started speaking French and integrating into the culture. I was going to school and at first, I didn’t understand anything. Before learning the language, I really felt left out. We travelled quite a bit to amazing places.
Then we had to go back and I wasn’t prepared for the reverse cultural shock. I learned a lot and was fascinated by the experience. After graduating from university, I had a second chance to live this international experience once again when I moved to Toronto, Canada, for a one-year course. It’s no wonder I work in this area today. I’m passionate about interculturality, and I’m very excited about where Wildlife is today regarding mobility.
Photo by Frank Vessia on Unsplash