The Impact of Mobility - A Personal Story

Topia’s SVP of Sales and Services Bill Mastin shares his personal experience with talent mobility. How it was used to turn around a business unit in decline and how, when executed poorly, it can send top employees scrambling for the door.

When you join a new company, there’s always the same questions. You get asked why you are leaving somewhere and why you are going to the new place. Earlier this year, I had a fantastic opportunity to join Topia, so I’ve spent a fair bit of time answering those questions recently. There are a few reasons I joined Topia, including world-class technology and solving a critical and costly problem for enterprises. Perhaps the most important reason, however, dates back to a very personal mobility experience I had in 2009.  

Let me set the backdrop. I met my wife in 2003 when on a short-term assignment in Australia. We were married in 2004 and started a family in the US. I stayed working for the California software company that initially sent me to Australia as we started a family. In the coming years, my career progressed, taking on more significant roles and responsibilities.

In 2009, we had an opportunity to return to Australia with the same company, and I took on a leadership role for the APAC business based in Sydney. By that time, we had two daughters (1 and 3) that had joined our family. We were excited and started planning. The company hadn’t done but a handful of international moves, and I’d only traveled internationally, and never wholesale moved abroad. We all went into the process a bit naive. 

Excitement over the opportunity soon turned into lots of work. I received a lump-sum budget, but little else in the way of help planning the move or understanding all the steps I needed to go through to get there and able to work. These steps ranged from work visa submission to the logistics and contracting for the transfer. Not to mention where we were going to live. That took weeks of discussion in our house and countless hours of pouring over websites with rentals and trying to figure out the neighborhood that would fit us as a family. In six weeks, we were finally ready, and after eight weeks, we were on the ground in Sydney. 

I won’t dive into the drama of the move and some of the challenges of moving dogs to Australia – which turns out to be a pretty expensive exercise. It was an exciting time, and before I knew it, I was going into the Sydney office and executing on a plan to pull the business out of a slump from the previous year. I was there for exactly 12 months, and during that time, we had the best sales and growth that the company had seen in years. It was a fantastic run for the business, and the President and CEO were happy enough with the results. Nearly 75% of the regional sales team made “club” that year. 


Unfortunately, however, this was also the time of the global recession. While we were growing in a downturn, I hadn’t been able to sell my house back in the States. I was being paid in Australian currency and carrying a mortgage in USD while the AUD currency dropped 30% in value in our first 3 months in Sydney. This proved to be a bit painful on the finances, and eventually, when there was a job opportunity back in the states, I jumped at it. I was fortunate it was with the same company, but really at that point, I was looking at outside options because of the situation. So one year after making a move, my wife and I found ourselves going back through the process again. We sold our car (again), scheduled movers, booked travel and limped back to the US as I started a new role.  This round trip was both expensive for the company and my family and more than a few lessons were learned along the way. 

So when people ask me “why Topia,” I have many answers… Topia Plan, Manage, Pay, and Go would have addressed pretty much all the issues my company and I stumbled on. On top of that, it would have produced significant cost savings for both my company and me by: 

  1. Supplying a payroll solution for a global workforce that would have allowed for split payrolls between the US and Australian business until I sold my house. Also providing a solution for complicated tax modeling outsourced to a big consulting firm at a high cost. 
  2. Planning the trip with cost estimates with full visibility and identifying areas to save. 
  3. Given my family tools to manage the employee experience of the move and giving us curated content and amazing data about everything from neighborhoods, commute times to the office to finding the right place to settle. 

Those are just a few things that would have been different if my past company had Topia’s solution (to be fair Topia didn’t exist until a few years after my experience). 

I’m incredibly excited to be part of the Topia team and look forward to helping organizations up-level their global mobility program to be a strategic part of their talent management, retention, and acquisition strategy. Helping them save money, access global talent in new ways, provide remarkable employee experiences, and calculate tax and mitigate compliance risk. Too good to be true? Contact me to find out!