The Wonder Woman Disrupter Next Door: Catching Up With the Unstoppable Nicole Sahin
Nicole Sahin, CEO and founder of Globalization Partners, has been on a mission to remove the barriers that hinder leaders from doing business globally — especially at the local level. By cutting out the red tape and complexities that hamper a business from expanding internationally, Nicole and her team help their clients conduct business in 150 countries around the world.
It’s been a year since you appeared in Disrupters. What have you been up to since the book hit the shelves?
We’ve been growing! We’re almost 10x the size we were when we were interviewed for Disrupters. That’s been incredibly rewarding for us because it has validated that our “triple bottom line” philosophy drives success. By treating employees, clients, and shareholders as stakeholders it’s been possible to not only create a high-growth, profitable business but also to sustain it.
It’s proof that as a company, you really can have it all if you lead with culture front and center. We saw 8 percent month-on-month growth in the last year, we’ve attained 93 percent client satisfaction, and we’ve also won several awards for having a great company culture, all while expanding our internal team so that we are together across 20 countries.
How were you and your team able to scale so quickly, without losing the culture that’s driving your success?
Success and a great growth culture are absolutely a team effort. I’m incredibly fortunate to have one of the best teams out there, sourced from all over the globe. And as we bring new people onto the team, we really focus on communications and emphasizing our culture first.
Having a leadership team that is 100 percent on board with your philosophy is also key. Nancy Cremins, our General Counsel, has navigated the employment laws globally in a unique legal landscape as we’ve carved out an entirely new way of doing business internationally. Similarly, Debbie Millin, my COO and Andrea Dumont, SVP of Marketing, have ensured that our internal team communications stay ahead of our growth curve and meet the standards of a world-class company.
One thing that has been super exciting for me is seeing the people who started out more junior in their careers with us. Two years later, they’re flying around the world to live on other continents, train local colleagues and spread the GP way of doing things. It’s incredibly rewarding to witness the pay-off in our commitment to building the next generation of team leaders.
How does what you are doing disrupt your industry’s status quo?
We’ve completely changed the way companies expand internationally and hire in new markets. Growth in today’s business world almost always means global expansion. Business leaders tend to focus on the market and the product — these are important but not enough. Our business helps mitigate the risk and complexities of hiring, paying and managing local teams. If not done with an eye for detail, even the best plans will fail.
We put the best of global labor at any company’s fingertips, no matter where in the world they are expanding. At the forefront of what we call the "globalization 4.0" shift in the economy, we help our clients recognize cultural norms that enable them to understand their international team members better. We love to help our clients access the global labor pool in an ethical way, while also helping to break down barriers between people around the globe.
Now that is a great example of "disruption!" Why did you start your disruption where you did?
To set up shop in a new country, companies have to set up a branch or subsidiary and figure out hundreds of local laws before they could hire even one employee in each country. I was a consultant helping clients navigate those laws so that they could expand internationally and was setting up dozens of companies in each country for each client.
I ultimately realized that if I could set up one company in each country, and give all of my clients access to it, I would have a much more scalable business model. At the time, I wasn’t sure if I could make the business legally valid enough to meet the needs of the Fortune 1000 clients I wanted to serve. Fast forward to now and I am proud to say that the biggest companies in American business are now working with us in this frictionless model, growing globally at an incredible velocity.
What’s next for your company?
I’m incredibly excited about what coming for us in the next year or two because now that we’ve finished building our platform for growth, we’re ready for the next stage. I feel like the world is our oyster, and there is so much more we can achieve.
Anything else you want to share?
I was struck by an article I read where Larry Fink talked about how profit isn’t enough — companies need to show how they are serving the social good. I think that call is getting louder and louder. Companies need to show how they make a positive contribution to society. That’s something we think a lot about here at Globalization Partners. What are we doing to make better places to work, and to contribute as global citizens? How can we do more? These are the questions that keep me awake at night, and I think they are top of mind for most disrupters.
Disrupters: Success Strategies From Women Who Break The Mold has been a bestseller for Entrepreneur Press since the day it launched in January 2018. In 2019, I will catch up with many of the disrupters from the book to find out what’s happened since we last caught up and how they are continuing to redefine what success looks like and how it can be achieved.
Rather than telling women that they need to lean in more in order to achieve someone else’s definition of success, the women profiled in Disrupters: Success Strategies From Women Who Break The Mold help us see why women do not need to be fixed and why men do not need to be blamed and shamed in order to achieve gender equity in the workplace. Rather, true success for both genders requires a deep understanding of the embedded biases inherent in a system designed for one population to have all the power and all the glory. So much so that in order for someone to succeed, someone must fail. Disrupters know this is a flawed and dangerous status quo, one that stunts innovation and leaves trillions of dollars on the table every year