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Going Global: an interview with CEO Nicole Sahin

Globalization Partners simplifies global expansion using the global employer of record model. Here, INFO speaks to their Founder and CEO Nicole Sahin about the concept and looks toward trends in worldwide business operations.

What led you to founding this business ten years ago?

Every time a business wanted to expand internationally, they would have to figure out all the tax, legal and HR issues of that market before being able to hire their first employee. The traditional way to do it was to set up a company, register payroll, follow all the HR and employment laws in that country – it is a lot for companies to figure out.

I used to be a consultant helping companies set up those operations around the globe, including more than sixty in China – one for each client who wanted to hire someone in China – and a hundred companies in the UK. It occurred to me that there was great potential in creating one company in each country and giving clients access to it. They would be able to set up and grow their operations globally more quickly, and we would take care of the administrative and legal hurdles of taking a company global.

What this meant was taking on all of the legal and HR issues in market across the world in an industry which did not previously exist. I can say now, almost ten years later, from 2021 and beyond, this is the way that companies will go global. I believe firmly that the global employer of record model, if done well and complaint, is the best way for companies to expand internationally.

Can you expand on the global employer of record model?

It’s simple in its nature. Our clients identify who they want to hire in another country. Maybe they find a salesperson they want to hire in China or an engineer in Poland. After they negotiate terms with that person, we then put that employee on our payroll in the existing country based on the terms that were agreed with the client.

The client contracts with us, we contract with the employee through our local company. Legally we are the employer of record, but for all intents and purposes he or she works for the client. Because the client doesn’t have to deal with legal issues or HR in the local area, they can on board a new employee quickly and easily.

Global expansion was booming toward end of 2019? What were your expectations of 2020?

We were gearing up for our best sales year on record, with three times the number of clients in 2020 as we had in 2019. The trend was one of massive increases in globalisation – globalisation of the workforce has always been an explosive trend in our lifetime.

How did the pandemic affect this activity?

After an initial period of stepping back, companies are now emerging with plans for the future. In many ways, the pandemic has been like a booster shot in an already fast and accelerating trend. Now with many employees working remotely, instead of an American company hiring a compliance person that speaks Polish in the States, they are just going to hire a Polish person who will work remotely from Poland if that was a skillset they were looking for. The boundaries of geography have melted overnight with our better telecommunications technology and confidence in remote working.

Do current geopolitical issues, such as protectionism or trade wars, affect your business?

To some extent, the trick of our business is to make it look easy to our clients. They can log onto an online platform and hire someone in Australia without even thinking about it. But underneath that, and what we have built, it becomes ever more complicated. There is an exceedingly large amount of work that goes into making that simple – and it our job to keep on top of the geopolitical complexity.

How did you approach the technical side of your digital platform?

Because of the way we have built the company, our foundation is the legal, tax and HR services, which had to be built in order for the technology to work. Every time a client wants to onboard an employee in Singapore or Brazil, or any country in the world, we hear the same kinds of questions: what benefits can I offer the employee? What type of non-compete should I give them? What are the terms in the employment contract? If I have to choose a benefit package to align with my packages in Britain, is the employee more interested in pension or healthcare?

All of that can be digitalised and automated. Once our clients are on boarded as a company, all that information is at their fingertips. What most of our clients want to do is to get a locally compliant offer letter out to the employee in the country. We have digitised it to the point where any new company can expand into a new market in a number of hours by using a software app.

What do your local offices look like?

In each country, we have company set up, with usually an HR person on the ground – because there are some things that frankly cannot be automated. There are accountants on the ground in most countries, and tax advisors and lawyers based regionally throughout the business. There is a huge infrastructure of a multinational country operating underneath the business.

What is your advice to companies considering foreign expansion?

The sooner the better. In this day and age, with the global employer of record model, if you choose a good employer of record, then there is really no reason not to. The sooner you go into new markets and explore what is possible, the better off you are in the long run where new revenue is available.

We had a client working for a large multinational. She said that she had a million-dollar budget to go do research into which country in Africa should be our next market. But with a global employer of record model, she could take that million dollars and hire one person in each of ten countries – and see which market is the most successful without the complexity.

This article was published in INFO Magazine Autumn 2020: How business will adapt. Read the whole issue here

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