Today you get to meet a wonderful global mobility expert named Ben Sookia. We talked about what he does for global industries, his passion for expanding the opportunities for people worldwide, and why he believes building empathy is one of the skills crucial to success in his field. We asked him for a few tips on how to help someone new to your team feel welcome and what his dream job is.
Also, you really need to take a look at the idea of doughnut economics Ben turned us on to. Think about how that works on the global level but also what it means for you as an individual.
Why should you meet someone like Ben?
If you are looking to really go outside of your network and comfort zone
If you aren’t sure about how to approach new people on your team
If you want to get a good perspective of what international opportunities are available to your industry.
Take a look and reach out if you have questions or if there are other details you would like us to share in the future.
Every day, people commute to work.
And every day, just as everyday people migrate to work.
They're university teachers, oil rig workers, surgeons, product-development experts, language instructors, anything you can name almost — and what they have in common is working across international lines for their companies and causes.
And so, what they also have in common, is having to navigate the massive logistical considerations that working in a non-native country entails.
That's where Ben Sookia comes in.
Ben's expertise is in global mobility.
Ben helps people navigate the legal logistics of moving across the globe. by specialising in the coordination and project management of global immigration services for businesses. This involves advising clients on securing work permits and visas often with the support of an extensive network of partners in the global mobility industry.
In addition to the legal compliance of securing the appropriate visa, elements like the social, cognitive, and emotional sides of what people go through when migrating for a job are paramount.
“Immigration is just one piece of the picture in global mobility. It is also important to consider aspects such as relocating furniture, tax implications or intercultural training." Ben says.
Because of his work, he has found a passion for finding the balance between work and life.
Everyone, he reminds us, has relationships outside their work.
"For me," he says, "I go to work to achieve something that will help me be better at relationships outside of work.”
This means examining how we bring ourselves into work.
For example — in let's say 2019, a lot of us had separate wardrobes for work and at home. Which is a concrete way to say, we showed up one way at work, and one way at home.
Post-COVID though, those wardrobe lines at least have been blurred — and so has, Ben hopes, the difference between how we show up at work and at home.
We all have relationships and lives outside of work, which are often more important to us than any specific job. We need to show up at work with helpful authenticity, Ben says — which means being open, honest, and establishing trust through being your authentic self.
As for himself, he loves Arsenal (football, or soccer for Americans), music, Kate Raworth and doughnut economics, and his heritage with his family originating from Mauritius. He really likes cooking. One of his go-to Mauritian dishes is called rougaille.
A large amount of those in his field are immigration lawyers and whilst a number of countries do rightly regulate this service industry the reality is that generally it is not a requirement to be a lawyer to provide immigration advice - except in the United States. There is an underlying divide between lawyers and non-lawyers. This meant that years ago, Ben felt like he was on the outskirts of his own industry because he didn’t formally qualify as a lawyer.
It wasn't until he got deeply fascinated by emotional intelligence that he found his chance to make his voice heard.
Are university degrees still worth the time and expense? Many think that they are rapidly becoming obsolete.
Do you agree with where education is headed? Or is the discussion more nuanced? Let us know what you think on LinkedIn.
(Continued from above)
And that’s when he started bringing emotional intelligence into the field of global mobility.
When talking to his clients about an upcoming move, Ben will (using his experience and knowledge) gauge how they really feel about things — including what they're not saying in words by listening “just to pick up on the pitch, the pace, the tone of their voice.”
Once he knows how they really feel, he can better help them.
His intensity for this way of listening came from when he went to global mobility conferences full of presentations on similar topics covering the legal aspects of migration. He observed that particularly at legal conferences there was a void when it came to understanding the human side of global mobility.
Ben decided to focus on this by exploring ways to bridge the gap between the logistics and human side of global mobility. He focused on educating his peers on the importance of emotional intelligence: why it’s important to think about people’s relationships and lives while they’re in the midst of huge moves.
Ben has worked hard to connect with people around the work as quickly as possible. And to do this, he likes to look for and notice the little things — like when one of us had to go on mute to tend to their little daughter.
“I like the fact that you're comfortable doing that," he said. "It shows that we share one of the same values – family. So, you might support a different sports team from me. You might be in a different location to me. You might have children — I don't, but the common thread is those values. It's good to find that connection.”
The chances that you, dear reader, are in the global mobility field are slim so we asked Ben what he feels are the most important tips for connecting with a new co-worker:
Reach out first - Make them feel included immediately. “Be the person to strike up a conversation or include them, not just in the office, but also social activities. Like, when people go for a beer on a Friday, ask them if they want to come.”
Dig deeper - Learn what motivates them. “If you're working with someone, you want to ultimately do a good job. To do this, you need to be able to know what motivates them. You need to know what the hook is — the emotional hook — to get them fully engaged.”
Bring them in - Once you know ‘the hook’, find their part in the bigger picture – even the junior-level employees. “Explaining to them what the wider goal is, why you're actually doing something, is important — especially if they're doing something quite small, like filling a form or entering data. You want to tell them the bigger vision you need to achieve. You want them to realize what they're actually contributing to in terms of the bigger picture, whether it's profitability or whether it's making someone's life better.”
Be yourself – “You have to reveal your personality too. Especially if you're a leader. You want to be able to be comfortable with expressing fear or doubt or uncertainty. A good leader is someone that is comfortable expressing the fact that they are sometimes in situations where they don't know what will happen, or they don't know what they're doing, and that vulnerability shows your human side.”
Yeah. Be yourself.
Ok — but how?
Ben has a very COVID-friendly answer:
“One thing that I think helps in being authentic and has helped me a lot in the last year, is being alone. Because, when you're living in that world where (let's say) you're in a relationship, going to work, going out with friends, family — all those people and all those opinions, all those suggestions rub off on you. Especially if you very rarely spend time by yourself. I've gotten to know myself by being alone. And that is a good way for you to know your authenticity.”
Ben is one of the lucky ones. He is living his dream collaboration.
“My friends and I are collaborating on a project that is so absolutely pure and has goodness in its heart. I love the people that I'm collaborating with.”
He and his friends (Audrey Lustgarten (US), Daniela Lima (Brazil), Yuu Shibata (Japan), Marco Mazzeschi (Italy), Massimo Maesen (Belgium) and Sophy King (United Kingdom) are collaborating to create a non-profit society for anyone who works, studies or has an interest in migration or the global mobility industry. They believe it is the right time to do things differently with the aim of creating positive change. This new international community of changemakers will be called paradiGM.
paradiGM will exist for people searching for greater purpose by connecting with others who are inclusive, honest, collaborative and fun! Their mission is to connect global mobility professionals in a way that helps them to grow professionally while giving back to diverse communities. They will connect with each other in genuine and meaningful ways and embrace diversity, accessibility and playfulness.
“I believe there is a necessity to give more of a platform and voice to people and regions in global mobility that have had less opportunity to be heard and have equal footing so far — this includes raising the profile of Africa in the global mobility industry.”
Some of his passion for Africa comes from his personal connection to Mauritius. He says: “If you are interested in the same objective and paradiGM’s mission more broadly, we would love you to be involved and support this new community.”
After navigating his own struggles in making his non-traditional voice and expertise heard in the industry, Ben is passionate about mentoring others — especially young people or those from underrepresented places in the industry.
One of Ben’s mentors throughout his journey has been Audrey Lustgarten who is the Grow Advocate for paradiGM. The Grow team, led by Audrey, are an international and intergenerational collective of professionals who will focus on mentoring as well as sustainability and wellbeing through initiatives such as the paradiGM Academy for young professionals as well as Mastermind groups to support the professional development of seasoned professionals and leaders in the global mobility industry.
Please reach out to paradiGM if you’d like to talk to Ben about his experience, his field, or how to make your voice heard.