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7 Questions with Ken Zwerdling
7 Questions with Ken Zwerdling
Name: Ken Zwerdling
Current title: Founder & CEO
Current organization: Global Expansion, Inc.
During the past 35 years, Ken has held leadership positions in multiple Fortune 500 companies, as well as 4 startups (3 of which were global) as well as a position as the Director of Human Resources and Technology at a local non-profit. His varied experience focused on Human Resources, Talent Acquisition, Operations, Accounting/Finance, Purchasing, Technology, Sales, Marketing, Startups, International Entrepreneurship, Business and Strategic Planning and Economic Modeling.
Previously, Ken was the founder and CEO of New VentureZ Business Solutions, Inc., a management consulting firm specializing in the preparation of business, strategic, capital and marketing plans for emerging and expanding companies. Ken also founded, grew and after 15 years, sold Foreign Translations, Inc. a global language translation and interpreting company with over 3000 translators in 50 countries. The company serviced global organizations and the United States Government/Military during both wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also founded Foreign Staffing, Inc. a global staffing and recruiting firm specializing in recruiting staff for global companies in over 100 countries. He also spent 5 years in Accounting and Finance with CRSS, Inc (now Jacobs Engineering) and 5 years with Ryder System in Miami. Ken started his career in New York City with Goldman Sachs as an Accountant.
Ken has an undergraduate degree from the State University of New York in Finance and Economics and an MBA from Nova’s Graduate School of Business. He has also received the Patriotic Employer Award from the United States Department of Defense for hiring military service veterans as full-time employees and interns for several of his companies. Ken has published articles in Global Trade Magazine titled “Hire Education – Employee Laws when expanding into Europe” and has been a Guest Lecturer – for Clemson University’s Graduate School of Business on the subject of "Managing Your Career".
For the past 4 years Ken has been the CEO of his 4th startup, Global Expansion, Inc. The company focuses on Career – Job Search Coaching, Outplacement and Career Transition Services, Global Recruiting and Employer of Record Services and as a Global Remote Work Consultant helping both professional that wish to work remotely and companies that wish to transition from brick and mortar organizations to remote/virtual ones with no physical offices.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Being able to delegate
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I had spent 15 years in large Fortune 500 companies focusing on Accounting and Finance. At my last company, they had a tuition reimbursement program where they would pay for 75% of graduate school (MBA) . It took me 2.5 years of going to school every other weekend while working a 60 hour week. I went to graduate school not because I wanted to advance in my corporate career but to use this knowledge to start my own company. 25 years later, I am now on my 4th company
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
As a Global Entrepreneur I have averaged 80 hour weeks for the past 2 years. This includes servicing our clients, prospecting for new clients and learning new technologies, processes and systems
My day usually starts with going through my email and analytics from overnight coming in from around the world. I then separate the day into mechanical tasks and creative tasks. I am a global career & job search coach helping executives around the world find their new job. So I write a lot of biographies and resumes. I mix this with several Zoom calls with potential clients from around the world each day, then follow-up with creating proposals. Around 4:00 I break for exercise (most days). Hiking, biking, swimming, kayaking
I then come back, make dinner and then I am studying, researching and prospecting until about 10:00 pm. On the weekends I don't have appointments so I catch up on email, research and hard exercise days
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
Show your employees that respect and trust them
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Tom Fiedman - The World is Flat. I was running a global language translation and interpreting company and this book showed it was possible to do business with anyone, anywhere in the world. I am now on my 3rd global company
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
IT all comes from the top down. The leader sets the direction, makes sure the right people get hired and they are given the tools and support to succeed
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
The United States Department of Defense gave us the Patriotic Employer Award for hiring veterans in our company.