This month’s blog post will be a little different than usual. Rather than addressing a single topic regarding global screening, I will cover my thoughts on two events: the holidays and the NAPBS APAC Annual General Meeting (AGM). There is a connection, in addition to the fact that they both happened recently.
First, the holidays. For any company that is globalizing a screening program, whether you are a background screening company or an employer, a problem area that is easy to overlook is the holidays. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated in the U.S. on the fourth Thursday of November. It’s not uncommon for the Friday after U.S. Thanksgiving Day to also be a day off for businesses. In Canada, Thanksgiving Day is the second Monday of October. I’ve found references to Thanksgiving being celebrated in Liberia and Norfolk Island. And other countries celebrate similar holidays to Thanksgiving.
What does this have to do with global screening? It means that companies need to address the varying days off in the countries in which they operate. For example, if you are an American background screening company with clients outside of the U.S., you need to make plans to cover operations or at least check service tickets for emergency support needs, even on holidays—especially when the holidays span multiple days. This is critical if a candidate data entry system is being used. If candidates have problems with the data entry system, they will need support in less than 4 days. Their potential jobs depend on it.
The next topic is the NAPBS AGM. I had the honor of attending this meeting on November 24, in Singapore. (Yes, this was over the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.) Over the past couple of years, I have been working more closely with NAPBS APAC leadership, helping to bridge communication with NAPBS leadership and other committees. Each conversation I have has helped me understand the different needs of the various NAPBS chapters and countries in which our members operate. These connections also help me realize when messages are not being adequately heard or understood. Attending the AGM was a way for me to continue to improve my understanding of APAC screening.
I would like to share a few observations from my time at the AGM:
- There is something about meeting people in person that makes the connection more solid. Many of us carefully manage our travel budgets and schedule virtual meetings instead of in-person meetings. It is important to spend time with people in person also. The communication is easier, especially when there are cultural and language differences. And the effort to be there in person is recognized and can result in a deeper relationship. If at all possible, find a way to meet people in person. There are good airfare deals to be had, if you can plan far in advance. Extend travel at conferences, if possible, to meet with clients and suppliers. I’ve even met with clients, prospects, and suppliers when in another country on my vacation. (I do understand this is not for everyone, but for me, it works. It lets me meet people in person for an extremely reasonable price for my employer.) And spend time with people just as people. On Saturday, I had most of the day free and spent the time with one of my suppliers, whom I have known for a decade. We spent the whole day on a hop-on-hop-off tour bus and did not utter one word about work. I learned so much about her as a person, and our working relationship will be better for it.
- Traveling outside of your home country opens your eyes to other cultures. Granted, Singapore is not the culture shock to a Westerner as many other countries can be, but there are still significant differences between Singapore and my home town. This point applies not only to country differences, but to region differences within your own country. There is a huge difference between working in a large city and working in a more rural (or suburban) area. I work in a suburban area outside of Atlanta, where public transportation is scarce. It is culture shock for me to visit client and partners in cities—and to learn to use public transportation. It makes you more sensitive to how people work and even the struggles they may have getting to work.
- Turnabout is fair play. NAPBS members located outside of North America have to spend long hours traveling and endure significant time zone changes to attend the Mid-Year and Annual meetings in the United States. Struggling through a 13-hour time change helped remind me of how difficult those conference days must be for our global members.
- There are a lot of very dedicated and experienced people all over the world who are members of NAPBS. Each time I engage in a conference, committee, or task force, I am thankful for all of the people who work so hard to make it a great Association. Membership in NAPBS matters. It demonstrates a dedication to our craft and our industry on behalf of our clients and the data subjects they serve. When an organization allows or even encourages their staff to volunteer at an Association, they are making a statement beyond just making a profit. They are demonstrating commitment to their industry—to make the services, including those of the competition, better for all clients. I am very proud to work for a company that encourages our NAPBS participation.
Happy holidays to all. I hope you enjoy the time with family and friends.
|Kerstin Bagus – Director, Global Initiatives
Kerstin Bagus supports ClearStar’s Global Screening Program as its Director of Global Initiatives. She has more than 30 years of background screening industry experience, working for a variety of firms, large and small. Kerstin is one of the few individuals in the industry who is privacy-certified through the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) for Canada, the EU, and the U.S.
Kerstin is a passionate participant in the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) and is a current member of the Board, in addition to participating on several committees. She also participates on IFDAT’s Legal Committee, with a primary focus on global data privacy.
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