#40 Tom Mitchell – Repatriation questions to ask before and after boarding the plane home
Tom is currently the Vice President, Emerging Channels, for Owens & Minor, a Fortune 300 multinational company specializing in healthcare logistics. The company is headquartered in Richmond, Virginia, USA. He and his wife Jamie have been married for more than 20 years, and have two teenage boys, Jackson and Buck. They were in Shanghai for almost three years and repatriated in June of 2014, which was about 6 months ago at the time of this recording. Today Tom is going to share with us his experience closing out his expatriate assignment and how he and his family are adjusting back home in the US.
Start the repatriation process way earlier than you think you need to to avoid unnecessary, last-minute crises.
How long into the repatriation journey
What factors did he consider when deciding to repatriate
For Tom and his family, there were a couple of factors. First, his eldest son was entering his last year of high school. Tom and Jamie believe that giving him a year to adjust to life back in the US will serve him well as he transitions into college next year. And professionally, Tom’s boss basically told him that there was a new position back in the US that he felt Tom was ready to take on. Between those two factors (and lots of prayer, Tom adds) they decided it was time to go even though they were enjoying their experience.
Biggest challenge currently
After being surrounded by a highly involved community of friends who had become family in Shanghai, Tom and his family are shocked by how highly fragmented and privatized life can be back home. He says that, “Life is the US is aptly described by the line from the Robert Frost poem: ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’” He definitely finds himself missing the fence-less life, the messy life, the shared life that they knew in Shanghai.
How his company prepared him for repatriation
Expatriation support was totally covered for Tom and his family, but repatriation wasn’t – at all.
What would he have liked to have looking back
Two things really: 1) the nuts and bolts of disengaging from China; and 2) the nuts and bolts of reentering the US and the emotional side of that move. See some of the questions he wished he would have known to ask below.
Questions to ask
When disengaging from China
- How to appropriately get out of your housing lease/landlord
- How to get signed off on all utility contracts
- How to end cell phone contracts/retrieve deposit
- What sort of tax documents need to be signed on the China end
When re-entering the US
- What does it look like to retrieve items from storage
- When will air/sea shipments from China arrive
- What customs forms need to be filled out
- What are some common problems people face with their shipments
- What sort of emotional difficulty might we face?
- How will my new-found China experience be utilized in my professional role
Take it easy on yourself and give yourself margin to adjust to your new life back home.
Connect with Tom
Email Tom @ firstname.lastname@example.org or find him on Facebook.