Getting back in the saddle

Good news such as getting an in-company transfer can also be a blow for those accompanying them. The Dual Careers program was devised by Tecpetrol with the support of expert relocation consultants to support spouses and partners of employees who’re being transferred. Hear what it’s like for them.

Milagros Gazcón was a sociologist from Buenos Aires who moved to Comodoro Rivadavia in 2012 to accompany her partner, Juan Martín Andueza, a Development Geologist at Tecpetrol. Although he pursued his career for several years in southern Argentina, in 2021 he was transferred back to Buenos Aires. At this point, something happened, says Milagros. “I was returning to my hometown, obviously I knew lots of people, I had my social capital—a network of contacts—but rejoining such a large job market populated by so many professionals, coming from a smaller and less specialized market, was a major challenge. I realized that my experience in Comodoro would probably not be particularly relevant to anybody assessing my profile," Milagros told Tecpetrol Hoy.

Faced with this uncertainty, for this second move, she accepted the invitation to participate in the Dual Careers program, designed by Tecpetrol to accompany and guide employees’ spouses and partners when dealing with a transfer, centered on professional development with equal opportunities for both parties.

“When a relocation happens, employee spouses or partners tend to go through a mourning process: they’re leaving the city, their career and their friends and then there is the weight of change itself. It doesn't matter whether it's Neuquén or Mexico. While some adapt more easily, others don’t and it hits them harder, often according to the personal moment they’re going through," explained María Florencia Martínez. Together with María Eugenia Peña, they are responsible for the Dual Careers program, which they developed specifically for Tecpetrol.

"Sometimes the sense of loss is really strong, but if you look at it from another point of view, it’s a moment to take stock and rethink yourself, it’s an opportunity to redefine what and who you want to be," added the consultants at Relocare, a boutique relocation company with 22 years of experience in the corporate world. "The issue puts a lot of pressure on couples, there’s so much to talk about," they explained.

Ready, set, go…

After what’s known as the conjugal conversation, the candidates signing up for the Dual Careers program have a series of one-hour virtual meetings with the consultants, to talk about their particular case. After the call, they are assigned specific tasks: answering ads, honing their skills, doing exercises and answering questions to help them get to the bottom of what it is they’re looking for and what they have to offer. The Tecpetrol program has nearly four years under its belt, enabling the team to put together a personalized program that includes, for example, preparation for key interviews, and support and follow-up until candidates are able to define their professional projects or help them to manage the waiting time necessary to start a job search. Sometimes, the approach recommended is a start-over.

"In the meetings with the consultants, I was able to rediscover my value, what I could contribute, and reassess my own experience in another city. However, the most important thing was that it helped me gain confidence, to pluck up the courage to knock on the doors of the people I knew," says Milagros.

“The program helped me to organize and plan my job search, identify opportunities and consider new options,” said Sueanny Ortiz, who moved from Quito to Bogotá with her partner, Byron Duque, when he was appointed IT Regional Manager in Colombia. The consultancy also contacts its network of partner offices in each city to provide an assortment of professional contacts in the destination country.

“At the beginning, the relocation scenario was quite challenging as I had to leave my job and sit down to see how I could continue developing my career in Neuquén. Dual Careers provided excellent support," explained Carla Isnaldi, a consulting psychologist on Gender Equality and Diversity issues. She and their 18-month-old daughter had to leave Buenos Aires when her partner, Matías Brolli, Development Sr. Manager was posted to Neuquén.

“Of the tools they offer, I’d like to single out the proposal to rethink and redesign one’s professional profile, both on social networks and in the CV, taking into account one’s career objectives and how these adapt to the new conditions. In my case this had to do with redefining and strengthening my profile as a consultant since at this stage, it was more suited to my needs and interests arising from a flexible work modality and home office,” she added.

The program, which is voluntary, has provided support to eleven couples so far, where the candidates were men in three cases and women in eight.

Labor and emotional support

"We analyze people’s personal profile and their skills, we help them to see what they often can’t, when they feel they have no value as professionals because their career and growth path have been cut short," summarized María Florencia Martínez, an expatriate who has been relocated a few times in the past. “It’s like an identity crisis, and our job is to help people discover their new identity,” contributed María Eugenia Peña.

For Milagros Gazcón, the effectiveness of the program depends a lot on the profile of the person. “Sometimes, it can provide concrete tools and at other times, it works as a kind of therapy that gives you more confidence and encourages you to take the necessary risks to get back on track.”

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