Sunday, January 31, 2021

I secondment that!

If you are reading on a smartphone, use landscape / hold phone sideways.

There is an amusing anecdote that baseball great Yogi Berra was once asked whether he wished to have dinner at a high-regarded restaurant, and he replied with a remark combining wisdom with contraction: 

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded. 

I have a friend who has a daughter that works at Apple in China. Born in Newark, New Jersey, educated at Princeton, he told me that their child was just finishing up a two year secondment. I was not familiar with this term, so I did not know whether to congratulate them, or give them my condolences. 

Thanks to Google, it turns out that a secondment is the assignment of a member of one organization to another organization, for a temporary period. The employee typically retains their salary and other employment rights from their primary organization but they work closely with the other organization to provide training and sharing of experience. 

A deeper dive says that secondments are often offered to employees by other departments within the same business - or by another company within the same group. An internal secondment can be an informal arrangement between departments - even if the wage changes, the individual is paid in the same way, so there is little paperwork to be done. Turns out that a secondment can be a fantastic way of exploring new career possibilities, gaining experience while being employed, learning new skills, boosting and becoming a more valued team member. 

I just did a video podcast with the folks at Rutgers Business School - Supply Chain Management. It turns out that Rutgers is ranked No. 6 in all of North America in Logistics Programs. I had my $10 word ready to impress all in the podcast via my question:

So, with global demand for Supply Chain Managers going up, are Rutgers students applying for secondments to places like China, Japan, Germany, Singapore? 

Without missing a beat, the answer was: No, not any more. Today it's all done via Zoom. 

It made me pause and shift the direction of the video interview. How many people in the past 10, 20 years "moved" to China, or Asia, or Europe - not because they wanted to move - but they HAD to move. They simply had to be physically there to do their jobs. Apple's iPhone production in China required this relocation. Today, not so much. And same for education. If you wanted a Master of Science in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers, you would be living in New Jersey for a period of time. Now you can live anywhere, in any time zone.

With COVID-19 restricting travel this past year, many entities have dabbled with virtual secondments, the same way that live events have become virtual events. Law firms were one of the first to jump onto the virtual secondments bandwagon. Just as remote work has really become just "work" and how telemedicine has just become "medicine", I think that secondments will just simply become normal global collaboration - plane tickets and moving vans not required.  

One time when stalled in crosstown traffic, Yogi Berra glanced at a restaurant awning on 50th Street and recalled something he once said about a nightclub. "That place is so crowded nobody goes there anymore." His wife said, "No, you said 'It's so popular nobody goes there.'"

"Right, popular," he agreed, and tossed out another one: "Thanks for making this day necessary." 

I'm not Yogi, but if you made it this far - thanks for making this blog necessary. 

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