The winners of the annual Re:locate Awards, which recognise the contribution of HR and relocation professionals to global business, were announced and presented with their trophies on Thursday 12 May 2011 at a champagne reception and gala dinner held at London’s Institute of Directors. Among them were HR teams from two high-profile organisations, Save the Children and BP.

In what was a record year for entries to relocation’s premier awards, HR professionals and suppliers from across the world of relocation celebrated success, good practice and innovation in their field of expertise, and were entertained and inspired in equal measure by special celebrity guest speaker and host Floella Benjamin, well-known broadcaster, actress, writer, cultural ambassador for the London 2012 Olympic Games, international children’s campaigner and member of the House of Lords.

As economic recovery continues, business is becoming increasingly global, and relocation and mobility are hot topics for many organisations. Reflecting this, three new Re:locate Awards, Green Achievement, Best International Destination Services Provider, and Excellence in Employee & Family Support, were introduced this year, bringing the total number of categories to ten.

Speaking at the gala dinner, Fiona Murchie, managing editor of Re:locate, the magazine for HR professionals, global managers and relocation specialists, who established the Re:locate Awards in 2007, said, “This has been a fantastic year for the awards, with three new categories and a record number of entries. It’s also wonderful to have full capacity at our dinner tonight, with more overseas guests than ever before, confirming that these awards are now firmly established in the international arena.

“Relocation is a growth industry. There is no going back. With economic recovery underway, and the world shrinking almost by the day, companies are reaching further afield in search of new opportunities and new markets. Having the right people in the right place at the right time is key to this, making the role of HR and relocation professionals more important than ever.

“Against this background, it’s vital that we promote and celebrate best practice in relocation, and nurture talent.

“For the people who make relocation happen – people like you – there are fantastic opportunities out there, but there are also challenges. Your greatest challenges are to adapt to change, be flexible, react quickly, be compliant with legislation, and work together to solve problems. Through its ability to make connections across the diverse and complex spectrum of relocation, and to bring professionals from different fields together, Re:locate will support you every step of the way.”

Pursuing the theme of making connections, Fiona Murchie announced the launch of Making a Difference, a new Re:locate charitable initiative for the relocation sector. “With a growing number of organisations committing to corporate and social responsibility projects, and in view of recent natural disasters and world events, now is the perfect time to put the wealth of relocation industry experience to good use.” For details of the new initiative, click here.

The winners

Between them, this year’s ten Re:locate Awards recognised individuals, teams, policy and innovation, with a choice of categories for HR and service providers. On the judging panel were distinguished figures from business, academia and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The shortlist reflected the many different types of organisation involved in relocation, from HR people to specialist support providers of various kinds, including serviced apartment providers, removals experts and relocation management companies, all of which contribute a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Large companies like BP, GSK, Pickfords Moving & Storage, Cartus and Interdean were side by side with smaller ones.

Leading charity Save the Children took the award for Best Relocation Strategy/Policy. The judges found that talent management strategy and HR policies were at the heart of the organisation’s success. Summing up, one judge said, “This was an excellent example of success, and the entry fully deserves to win.”

Accepting the award on behalf of Save the Children, Leonie Lonton said, “It’s an absolute privilege to work in HR to support and develop those who work with the most vulnerable people in difficult places. This award is recognition of the work they do.”

The award for Inspirational HR Team of the Year went to BP and the Pricoa Intercultural Team, which the judges praised for an excellent entry showing teamwork under difficult circumstances, with emphasis on the challenges faced and how these were managed. Despite a difficult period and immense negative media attention, said the judges, the support to assignees remained in place, and new services and support were provided.

“A great HR team can make a huge difference, and this one has certainly done so, during what has been a very challenging 15 months for BP, not just in the UK but all around the world,” said Stephen Fairn, of Pricoa, who accepted the award on behalf of the BP and Pricoa team.

It was not only larger organisations that tasted success. The Rising Star in Relocation award, for example, went to Anthony Gallo, of relocation services company London Relocation.

The award for UK Relocation Service Provider or Team of the Year was won by HCR, while the winner of the International Relocation Service Provider or Team of the Year was ICUnet.AG. The climax of the evening was the presentation of the coveted Relocation Personality of the Year award to Tad Zurlinden, of the Association of Relocation Professionals and the European Relocation Association, a well-known figure in the relocation world.

The Re:locate Awards 2010/11 were sponsored by Cartus, Connells Relocation Services, Fully Furnished, Interdean International Relocation, MoveAssist International, NatWest Global Employee Banking, Newland Chase, Roomservice by CORT, and SIRVA Relocation. EuRA, Now Health International, Pricoa Relocation and Red Recruit were Supporters, and the ARP, FOCUS and the Relocation Users Group (RUG) provided professional endorsements.

The Summer 2011 issue of Re:locate, to be published in June, will feature full details of the winners, with case studies.