7 Questions with Nicole Sahin
Name: Nicole Sahin
Current title: CEO and Founder
Current organisation: Globalization Partners
Nicole Sahin’s mission is to eliminate barriers to doing business internationally and building global teams. As founder and CEO of Globalization Partners, she is recognized for having created an innovative solution that enables companies to hire great talent anywhere in the world, without the complexity of setting up international branch offices or subsidiaries. Businesses are able to bypass the legal, HR and tax complexities of hiring in another country, while getting all the benefits of a global team.
Nicole holds an MBA in International Management from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. She splits her time between Boston & San Diego, loves to travel, and is inspired by the belief that making it easy for people to expand internationally, and work seamlessly across borders, ultimately makes the world a more exciting and open-minded place.
1. How would you summarise your area of expertise in a few paragraphs?
Prior to launching Globalization Partners, I helped build a company that provided international HR, tax, legal, and compliance services to CFOs, HR Directors, and General Counsel of fast-growing technology companies establishing international subsidiaries and hiring in dozens of countries.
For each client expanding into each country, my team would set up a branch office or subsidiary in the country where they were hiring and advise the client on all the local legal, HR and tax rules, again and again, every time a client wanted to hire even one person in a country. It was a LOT of work, investment and red tape to hire 1-2 people in a country, and clients are always afraid they’ve missed something due to the complexity.
My experience was a catalyst for founding Globalization Partners in 2012. I felt confident that if I could build ONE company in each country, and give all my clients access to it, it would be a much more scalable business model than setting up hundreds of companies in each country (instead of one per client, per country).
Fast forward to today, Globalization Partners simplifies the hiring of global remote teams by enabling companies to hire anyone, anywhere in the world without the complexity of setting up foreign branch offices or subsidiaries. Our customers find the talent, and we put their employees on our already-established, fully compliant in-country payroll. Our solution makes it easy for any company to hire anyone, anywhere, quickly and easily
2. One big idea: Can you please unpack the one big idea from your work that seems to resonate most with leaders?
The ability to hire remote global teams quickly and easily is extraordinarily compelling for high-growth companies.
Covid-19 triggered the world’s most massive remote work experiment, and the impact is here to stay. We have seen a paradigm shift about the nature of work – how it gets done, where it gets done, and who gets it done. The era of global remote teams is here to stay, and it has been one of the most sudden, profound social shifts of all time.
Embracing global remote teams is transformational on a business level as well as a societal level. It leads to a whole range of cultural, financial and social improvements in addition to the positive bottom-line business impact. Today’s CEOs have also realized that embracing remote work is about getting vital roles filled. Often, that top talent they need doesn’t exist in a commutable radius.
So now companies are becoming more comfortable about looking outside of their city, and often also looking even further afield and tapping into the global talent pool which not only makes sense – but is becoming vital to find the talent they need.
3. How did you become a thought leader? Can you please briefly tell the story and share ONE tip for any leaders out there who'd like to become thought leaders themselves?
As Founder & CEO of Globalization Partners I developed our solution that enables companies to hire great talent anywhere in the world. When I started the business in 2012, this industry didn’t exist yet, and most tax and legal advisors said it couldn’t be done. I ascertained that it could, and yet only wanted to build it if I could do it in a way that meets the absolute highest standards in quality. As you can imagine, figuring out a legally compliant business model in 180+ countries was a huge challenge. I started to build and scale the team in 2013, and it’s been one amazing milestone after another ever since. We have completely redefined the way companies go global, support thousands of companies employing people all over the globe and will hit a billion dollars in ARR next year.
My one tip to any aspiring leader or entrepreneur is to come up with a plan and take at least one step forward every day. Every entrepreneur/thought leader has a force inside them pushing them to go out and start something great. When developing an idea or starting your own business, not matter what it is, it always starts with one step forward at a time, and eventually, you’ll look back and realized you made a quantum leap ahead. Make sure you love what you do and spread the positivity to those that decide to take the leap with you.
4. You're sitting down over a coffee with a leader and you can only give them ONE tip to help them as a leader. What would you say to them?
I really want to encourage all thought leaders to believe in yourself - go ahead make that leap, whether you’re considering a new idea or a new way of doing things. Trust your instincts and go for it! Doing so is what made you a leader already, and it’s what makes you capable of more than most people can imagine. It takes courage, though. Maya Angelou once said, if you’re always trying to be normal, you’ll never know how amazing you can be. Also, pay attention and listen to your inner voice. One thing I’ve learned is that my intuition is almost always right. Leaders and entrepreneurs know what needs to be done, and the responsibility ultimately always falls on our shoulders to make decisions that aren’t comfortable. You must get comfortable with being uncomfortable to be an entrepreneur or a leader.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your thoughts on leadership? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted you?
One book I find inspiring is Leila Janah’s Give Work: Reducing Poverty One Job at a Time. Her thesis as a social entrepreneur is that helping those in disadvantaged economic situations connect with companies that need them helps people help themselves – by enabling them to work. We are all united by our common drive, to create meaning through work we’re passionate about, and to provide for our families. Enabling people to work is a hugely powerful way to change the world, and that’s a core part of what we do at Globalization Partners.
6. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
All the technology in the world won’t matter if your employees are unhappy and unproductive, so really focus on being the best you can be for them – especially in this difficult time. Empathy and optimism are critical right now, and a little bit of both can go a long way.
Any high growth company asks a lot from its employees, and people are willing to put a tremendous amount of passion and energy into their work. When you have great people, treat them well. I always had a theory that a company that did this would be more productive, and that it would be win-win for the company as well as the employees. Over the last decade at Globalization Partners, we’ve proven that the theory of a Triple Bottom Line works by blowing the socks off all traditional success metrics while also attaining 97% customer satisfaction ratings and exceptional levels of internal employee engagement. I’ve learned that treating a team well is everything as a key to success.
7. What is one meaningful story from a reader or someone who's been influenced by your thought leadership so far?
On the East Coast, we are used to female CEOs and thought leaders, so I’ve been surprised in a joyful way by women reaching out to me on LinkedIn from other regions of the country and the world who tell me that they’re inspired by a woman running a global business who also speaks about positive leadership. They say that I inspire them, and their daughters. That’s incredibly meaningful to me and I never expected that.
As a company, we also promote the idea that enabling every company to hire anyone, anywhere, breaks down barriers for people and between people. Working with people globally enables people to understand people who didn’t necessarily grow up the same way they did. Some of the stories of my team members who have been LGBQT activists in their home country and felt radically accepted by Globalization Partners which has been deeply meaningful to me, not least because their openness also helped employees who live in countries where LGBQT is not culturally accepted. This type of acceptance is deeply meaningful to me personally and one of the greatest joys of my work.