Ms. Danielle Lovell, Founder of Simply Canadian
Bringing her expertise in immigration matters, Ms. Danielle Lovell recently started Simply Canadian to help local tech companies with the hiring of skilled expats. Speaking from seven years of experience in managing international assignments, she told ExpatFinder some of the changes to expect with regards to mobility programmes and government regulations. She also emphasised that a background in human resources makes a strong foundation for a career in global mobility.
Q: Tell us more about your experience in global mobility and the companies you are in.
A: I grew up in a family that was part of global mobility, starting with grandparents who worked in India in the 1920s, all the way through my nuclear family, who moved every two to three years with an oil and gas company. In 2010, I thought I could bring my understanding of what it was like to relocate globally to the industry, so I started a boutique destination services company in Vancouver, BC. After running this for a year, I joined lululemon to help formalise and grow the global mobility programmes there. After three years, we were relocating employees into and out from more than 15 countries across four continents on various types of assignments.
Post-lululemon, I joined BLANKSLATE Partners, a boutique HR consultancy in Vancouver, which focuses on the technology industry, and I trained to become a Regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant to be able to file visa and work permit applications in Canada. We not only worked with a number of companies relocating employees to Vancouver but also with Canadian businesses, which are sending their employees on assignment to the US as part of their market expansion strategies.
Now, with Simply Canadian, I focus on Canadian companies bringing high-skilled technology workers into Canada, generally for permanent relocations.
Q: Who are your clientele?
A: I work most frequently with rapidly growing technology companies based in Canada, generally bringing new employees to Canada to fill skill gaps, and then later considering opening offices in the US or abroad to support their growth.
Q: What are some challenging immigration issues you have encountered?
A: Until recently, the challenge with immigration in Canada had been how slow the application process is. It can take two to five months to bring in a new senior skilled employee, which has a great impact on the speed of business.
Our government has committed to launching a work permit programme that will enable 14-day processing of high-skilled, high-wage employees, and we’re all quite excited at the prospect. Well, at least everyone in the technology industry is.
Another challenge of immigration is that it can be seen as a method to bring in unqualified or underpaid individuals to displace people who are already in the labour market.
Q: How has the global mobility landscape been changing and what can we expect in near future?
A: I see young companies considering sending individuals on assignment much earlier than I used to see in a company lifetime, and sending them with much more support in flexible mobility packages, both financially, and informationally, with consultants or technology solutions such as MOVE Guides.
Q: Which are the sectors you find most active in global mobility and why do you think that is so?
A: I see the technology industry as significantly active in global mobility, generally in permanent moves, and this is because of rapid growth and demand for skilled software developers. Across the board, whether in Canada, the US or the UK, we see companies struggling to find the right skilled hire to help expand their software product, so these companies look outside their borders.
Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to build a career in the global mobility industry?
A: I’d say that it’s very helpful to get a good sense of the breadth of global mobility. A single move can involve immigration issues, tax implications both for the individuals and for the corporation, relocation costs and then personal impacts on everyone involved.
I think it is extremely helpful to have a thorough understanding in one of these areas - tax, immigration or relocation - to bring into a holistic global mobility programme.
Many of my colleagues in mobility started as HR generalists, in growing companies that have begun to move employees internationally, and they learned it on the go. So, I’d say if someone is considering a role in mobility, one way to start can be to join a rapidly growing company in the HR function, and be ready to take on the complexity of global mobility as it starts to fit the talent demands of growth.