I'm U.S.-based, But My Co-CEO Is in Europe. Here's How We Make It Work. Leading a company with employees on five continents can be a challenge.

By Arthur Alexion

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

You're reading Entrepreneur Europe, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.


As the co-CEO of an international company, my counterpart co-CEO and I oversee a software development company with more than 250 employees spread across five continents. While I'm based in the United States at our Orlando headquarters, more than half our business is in Europe, which means a good deal of my focus and attention needs to be on Europe. For several years, my co-CEO worked across the Atlantic in both the Czech Republic and remotely from Italy, requiring us to share leadership responsibilities across offices and time zones.

Related: The Differences in Corporate Culture in the U.K. vs. the U.S.

Communication and collaborative technologies have done a great deal to enable work across time zones, countries and cultures. But, our experience working as co-CEOs from separate continents taught us that these tools are just part of what it takes to lead a company from half a world away.

My co-CEO and I credit our cross-continental success to a few key principles that guide our interactions with each other and with our employees.

Clarity in responsibilities

The first of these principles is clarity in each of our responsibilities. When I joined the company in 2013, it was each of our first experience working as co-CEOs. Thus, a clear understanding of roles within the organization was non-negotiable. We had to understand each other's working styles and figure out the duties we'd do individually and which overlapped. We also needed to consider the business activities that required input from both of us, and communicate clearly to each other and our employees.

We strive to make the same level of clarity in responsibility known to all of our employees. Without it, daily actions have little context, getting lost in a sea of day-to-day minutiae and losing sight of the company's greater goal. Empowering employees with role clarity and autonomy is essential to an employee's ability to perform without fear of overstepping authority.

Related: What I Learned by Starting My Business on the Isle of Man

Effective communication

Maintaining effective communication across channels is vital for every productive company, and certainly plays a role when communicating with teams in different time zones on a daily basis. Especially at the beginning of our time working as co-CEOs, the more communication that occurred, the better. As we initiated our business relationship, we knew we would experience bumps in the road, but we both approached the situation with open minds and lots of dialogue.

Like many international companies, we take advantage of the abundance of communication technologies including email, Skype, Google Meet and Google Docs. These tools allow communication and collaboration without each team member needing to be awake or working at the same time.

Even though technology makes it easier, communication should not be taken lightly. For my co-CEO and I, communication has to be substantive and go into greater detail about what we think on a particular matter because later, it may be too late to pick up the phone and ask clarifying questions.

Related: How Being on the Fringes of Europe Gives Our Company a Global Edge


As defined by The Balance, "flexibility on the job includes the willingness and ability to readily respond to changing circumstances and expectations." International work requires flexibility in several areas: work hours, communication styles and an understanding in different cultures. I typically start working at 6 a.m. and occasionally work until 9 p.m. or later so my workday overlaps with Europe in my morning and Australia in the evening. On days when being available to a specific office in a different time zone is essential, it's important to change your working hours to match your colleague's.

Little changes like this make a huge difference in the long run, because as The Balance notes, "employees who approach their job with a flexible mindset are typically more highly valued by employers."

Unrelenting trust

The final component to our working relationship is unrelenting trust. Management consultant Patrick Lencioni notes in his book Five Dysfunctions of a Team that the entire team foundation is built on trust. Without it, the concepts above it do not compute.

I must trust my co-CEO to drive forward the company's agenda in his areas of responsibility as he trusts me to do what is required in mine. There can be no "I wish he'd done it differently'" mentality; the decision gets made and we move on. We're in this together. With a foundation of trust and utmost respect for each other, we work in tandem without fear that something irreparable will happen.

Leading the company together with my co-CEO from a different continent has been much more manageable because we're clear on our responsibilities and put in the time to communicate effectively, and we've laid a foundation of respect and trust. This is the way to make one plus one add up to more than two.

Arthur Alexion

Co-CEO of Bohemia Interactive Simulations

Arthur Alexion is co-CEO of Bohemia Interactive Simulations, a global software company that provides simulation and training solutions for defense and civilian organizations.

Related Topics

Side Hustle

Anyone Can Start a Passive Income Side Hustle For Easy Money — But Only If You Know These 5 Essential Tips First.

The rise of digital automation technology has made starting a passive income side hustle easier and more accessible than ever before.

Side Hustle

He Launched His Creative Side Hustle Out of a Garage. Now It's Worth $225 Million.

Tom Humble, CXO and founder of E.C.D. Automotive Design, followed his passion for custom auto design into big business.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2023

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2023.


Let Them Create Their Own Toys with the Toybox 3D Printer Bundle, Now $330

This user-friendly 3D printer makes toys with the push of a button.

Science & Technology

Cyber Attacks Are On the Rise — Here's How Your Business Can Continuously Prepare for Threats

In an era marked by escalating cyber threats and increasing cost of data breaches, the traditional castle-and-moat cybersecurity approach falls short.

Starting a Business

7 Lessons I Learned From Selling a 6-Figure Blogging Business

Here are a few critical lessons from my experience building and selling a successful blogging business.