Internal mobility in the private sector
When supported in the right way, mobility can provide a person’s career with just the boost it needs
1 Feb 2023

Career mobility is perhaps the most fundamental Human Resources (HR) consideration within companies today, allowing staff to openly envision their growth pathway within the organisation, something that builds both long-term retention and the opportunity for real personal work development. 

Christèle Hiss Holliger is Global Head of Human Resources at the Pictet Group, a leading European independent investment firm, whose mobility policy is committed to offering career development and progression opportunities to its staff by facilitating internal mobility across the firm, letting colleagues know there are a great number of career opportunities within the group. And, of course, an open approach means many skills can be readily identified that are transferable across locations, business lines and functions.

To this end, Christèle’s HR team works to advertise positions internally for two weeks whenever possible before initiating external recruitment. Internal mobility is available to all employees across all locations within or outside their unit, department, division, or group entity, and this is not limited to permanent arrangements but also applies to long and short-term secondments, business assignments, job rotations and job swaps.

Christele Hiss-Holliger, Global Head of Human Resources, Pictet Group.

Pictet takes a long-term perspective on recruitment, and any candidate search entails seeking talented individuals for the current position, but also with a view of future career progression. Once hired, this includes an inbuilt commitment to helping new colleagues continue their development and consider opportunities for movement within the group.

Christèle points out a simple truth, that internal mobility is seen as a win-win for the individual and the group. The individual feels valued, energised to perform at their best, and the firm retains valuable staff and knowledge. The policy’s success is evident, with internal mobility now representing just under 20% of total recruitment.

Internal mobility must make sense for the individual in question. It must be practical and an obvious next step in their career. Otherwise, they will be less motived and less likely to apply for a position that is based elsewhere. We also have to consider the global context aspect of this issue. An example case in London during early 2020 involved a signed contract for a new role based in New York, starting in April. The many lockdowns and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant that relocating at that time was impossible, so departure was delayed and the employee took up the job virtually until travel and logistics became easier.

Of course, Pictet isn’t alone in this endeavor. Some companies organise internal mobility fairs (comparable to student fairs) to promote internal jobs, allowing employees to present themselves to HR and managers directly onsite. Other firms leverage their LinkedIn presence and target certain jobs to employees, offering them training to better equip them to apply for positions in the short-term.

Christèle, and Pictet in general, are justifiably proud of their approach, and a couple of colleagues notably support it. Maryam Gudin joined Pictet in September 2013 and moved from Head of Price Management, Pictet Wealth Management, to Chief Financial Officer, Pictet Asset Services. She had spent seven years in her previous position and was actively looking for another job. Her comments about the process demonstrate how the open approach worked: “It was easier to have recruitment conversations with people I had already interacted with, for example, here’s where I can have an impact, here’s where I need to get up to speed. It led to a clearer understanding of everyone’s needs and expectations.” And changing jobs within the same company brings credible benefits such as “not having to relearn all the basics (who’s who, day-to-day processes, etc.), keeping a great network of friends and colleagues, and staying in a company that cares.”

A successful mobility policy should offer career development and progression

A further example is that of Frank Reber, who joined in 2015 and had several internal moves. First, in 2017, from Funds & Private Equity Transfer Specialist, Pictet Asset Services, to Request For Proposal (RFP) Manager, Pictet Asset Management. In 2020, from Geneva to Madrid, as RFP Manager. Then in 2022 from Senior RFP Manager in Madrid to Client Relationship & Servicing Manager in Paris. Frank spent two years in his first job, three in this second and two in his last job and, as opposed to Maryam, he was never actively looking, but always on the lookout. “I was always looking for professional development coupled with the conviction that change brings out the best in me. Internal mobility was a means to reach my personal and professional aspirations in a supportive company environment. I have always been clear about my goals for career development and progression. My managers and HR demonstrated openness and generosity, acting as partners rather than ‘bosses’, seeing mobility as a win-win solution.”

When asked for their advice to anyone considering an internal move, Maryam notes, “be open that you’re looking to move. Have conversations with your current colleagues, mentors and friends to hear about potential openings. Find the position that is right for you – careers are not a one size fits all!” 

Frank’s feelings perhaps summarise the success of internal mobility, and how it leads to employee retention: “Determine whether and why you seek mobility. Earn credibility through commitment and integrity. Be patient. Continue to excel in your present role, regardless of the outcome of the process. Be aware that mobility is a privilege, not an entitlement. Help others benefit from your experience.” 

* Julián Ginzo is member of the Editorial Board at UN Today.
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