Chad Sterling, Altair Globalís CEO, Offers Advice, and Candid Answers on Mobility Questions
If you could ask Chad Sterling, Altair Global’s CEO one question about the Mobility Industry, what would it be? ReloQuest was fortunate to receive the privilege of asking him nine questions, as he generously agreed to contribute to our blog.
We hope you will enjoy reading commentary from a leader in the mobility industry. I found his insights to be informative, well written and interjected with an appealing sprinkle of humor.
ReloQuest’s Learning Through Leadership blog series features contributing experts each month providing their personal insight on a variety of Mobility Industry topics. The ReloQuest team welcomes Mr. Sterling, and would like to thank him for contributing his time and expertise in our blog series.
Q. Please share with us the Mobility trends that you feel should be top of mind for those involved with employee relocation.
With home and rent prices continuing to rise, many are speculating on the future of the U.S. real estate market. Many of those in the would-be “first-time buyer” category are choosing to rent in the wake of an unsteady economy over the last 10 years. However, with interest rates sure to rise, already historically high rents could also continue to rise, pricing many out of the market. The nature of talent management has changed dramatically since its inception.
The talent management practice has diversified so that organizations have the opportunity to manage their talent in different ways. A younger generation of employees has become a big part of the workforce, bringing with it a revised set of attitudes and work preferences. With this generation has emerged a focus on organizational justice and social responsibility that has led to many employers incorporating these ideals into their corporate cultures.
In addition, our understanding of how to engage with employees has grown, thus affecting the way that employers manage and retain talented employees. Organizations are recognizing the need to focus on culture and dramatically improve employee engagement as they face a looming crisis in engagement and retention. As a result, many companies are replacing traditional performance management with innovative performance solutions.
The lens of traveling assignee safety has and will continue to shift from seasoned business travelers and other global professionals to an increasingly diverse population of employees engaged in global mobility for equally diverse business purposes.
Q. Is there a topic in Mobility that you would like to offer a commentary on? What are your mobility objectives for your department?
I’ve heard for years about Mobility’s desire to “get a seat at the table” when it comes to Talent Management. I agree that Mobility is part of the strategic talent equation, but I think it’s just as important for Mobility to converse with Business Leaders, the C-Suite, and decision makers in a common language – the language of results.
Whether we are talking about one assignment, or a 500-person group move, the language of results is a return on investment. Mobility teams need tools that can accurately measure ROI and help executives justify decisions in real-time.
In order to accurately measure ROI, then mobility, business, and financial professionals need to work together to understand the key inputs, including assignment, compensation, and other direct costs. Costs such as downtime and other productivity drains, including family distraction factors and lost opportunity costs need to be considered. On the flip side, benefits, such as increased sales, increased market share, or better efficiency need to be considered, as well. Better planning and analysis is the “way to the table”, not more of the same old banter about talent management alone.
Q. How would you describe your leadership style and how does it translate into your everyday work? Has it affected your corporate culture?
At Altair Global, we are big believers of the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessments. The objective of the StrengthsFinder assessment is to highlight your positive attributes and search for people to balance those areas where you are not as strong. I am delighted to work on a leadership team that has strengths across the spectrum of diversity in thought, attitudes, and characteristics. It’s fascinating to observe our team discussions when you have an in-depth understanding of their strength, especially around budget time.
My Top 5 strengths are Arranger, Activator, Learner, Responsibility, and Individualization.
I believe I’ve influenced the organization to achieve a balanced growth plan and to maintain our identity and culture despite incredibly dynamic market forces. Whether it’s StrengthsFinder or another assessment, I’ve always said, the best way to get to know a team and understand their leadership is Karaoke Night with a rockin’ set of tunes and a couple of bad rock band wigs.
Q. What advice would you offer to a Millennial just starting in the Mobility Industry? Can you give them 3 rules to guide them?
In 30 years, I think we are going to look back at the Millennials’ as the most successful and accomplished generation in workforce history. They are certainly the most entrepreneurial, they demand access, they aren’t willing to wait, and they want work that matters. Isn’t that exactly what we want in our high-performing, future leaders?
My advice to millennials is to continue to demand workplaces transform around their generation. As this translates to Mobility, I recommend that millennials explore multiple participants in the service chain and dive deep into the experience of the customer. Show this industry your desire to give and receive instantaneous feedback. You make decisions based on experiential reviews, so push this industry to transform to the science of how you make decisions.
Lastly, realize, in 6-10 years, your generation is going to share the workforce with Generation Z. The next wave of whiz kids will further transform commerce and have strengths that are different from yours. Adapt yourselves and your organizations to harness their power, unique traits, and experiences. I strongly suspect they will exhibit less patience than you.
Q. Do you feel global mobility is more critical today, and why? If you could name one – a component in relocation that you find the most challenging what would it be, and why?
I feel global mobility is more critical now because companies are moving into Countries today that would not have even been thought of 10 or 20 years ago. The issues with compliance, immigration, and logistics are much different now than then.
If I could name one component, I find the most challenging it would probably also be the one I like the most – the ever-changing landscape that is global mobility. While challenging, it is also interesting.
Q. Here’s a chance to get on your soap box–if you were to host a conference what topics do you feel require industry attention? What issue is perplexing to you?
I’m amazed by TV shows about tiny houses. I want to know why the people want to live in them, how they’re made, how do they feel six months later when all they have is a tiny house? I could go on for days about it. I mean this is in a purely positive way – I just can’t get enough information about them!
Q. What is your career related passion in life? What is it you enjoy about the Mobility Industry?
My passion is to create an environment that will have people saying 20 or 30 years from now, “That was the best experience of my career.” The mobility industry is absolutely fascinating. I love that I can walk throughout one of our service centers and literally see and hear great service being delivered. The way someone sits, the enthusiasm in their voice, the concern across their brow… it is incredibly rewarding to see our team making differences and influencing commercial and personal success stories. We enable people in their quest for a better life. Who doesn’t enjoy that?!?!
Q. Do you believe philanthropic activities can provide learning experiences that can translate into managerial skills, and prove beneficial to your team?
I think the best leaders have strong philanthropic goals as well as professional and personal ones. You can learn good leadership skills from giving back and taking yourself out of your “normal” everyday life. To be able to see yourself through another’s eyes is a gift. Sometimes you don’t even see the person or people you’re helping, but you know what you’re doing is right, and you can feel it in your heart. Serving others provides us with humility we wouldn’t otherwise have.
Q. What is the most important decision you make every day as a mobility professional and leader?
The allocation of resources is at the core of every decision, every day. In a growing business, there is no shortage of great initiatives, great ideas, and great investments. Deciding which of those initiatives not to pursue is often the difference between a good, and a great organization.
Chad Sterling, CRP, GMS
Chief Executive Officer
Chad Sterling serves as Chief Executive Officer of Altair Global Relocation. Prior to assuming this position, Mr. Sterling served as Altair’s President and Chief Financial Officer. His leadership skills and wealth of experience in the relocation industry have proven to be invaluable assets to Altair, contributing significantly to the development of innovative global solutions, delivery of measurable results to every client, and achievement of profitable growth through service excellence.
Mr. Sterling joined Altair’s Global Headquarters and Central Service Center in 2003 as Vice President of Accounting. He was promoted to Senior Vice President of Finance and Accounting in 2006, to Executive Vice President & Chief Financial Officer in 2009, and to Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer in 2012. He held that position until October 2014 before stepping into the role of President and Chief Financial Officer. He possesses over 20 years of experience in relocation management and is a shareholder in the company.
Prior to working at Altair, Mr. Sterling was Vice President of Accounting at The Associates Relocation. He holds the Certified Relocation Professional (CRP) and Global Mobility Specialist (GMS) designations from Worldwide ERC®.
Mr. Sterling earned his Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas, Austin, and his Master of Business Administration from the University of Texas, Dallas. He has also served as Adjunct Professor for the Dallas County Community College Business School.