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Ep 405: Global Remote Teams


One of the early discussion points in the pandemic was the access to global talent pools that the move to remote working could open up. Two years on, it is pretty clear that remote working is now a permanent fixture in the working life of many people. So how far are employers tapping into global talent pools, and what are the challenges and opportunities.

My guest this week is Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners. Nicole and her company work with many employers who are building global remote teams, and she has some valuable insights and experiences to share.

In the interview, we discuss:

• The long term trends that are coming out of the pandemic

• Everyone everywhere

• The benefits of building global remote teams

• Diversity of ideas

• Engagement & productivity

• Building community

• Common challenges

• What mindset shifts are employers making

• Understanding cultural norms

• Building a global employer brand

• Nicole’s book ” Global Talent Unleashed.”

Listen to this podcast in Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcript:

BRYQ (0s):
Support for this podcast is provided by Bryq. Bryq provides you with talent intelligence that works, eliminating biases, time constraints, and inefficient decisions in a world that’s increasingly rejecting subjectivity. Bryq’s end-to-end AI-driven talent intelligence empowers you to make data-driven decisions across the employee life cycle – from hiring, development, and mobility to performance optimization and culture. Bryq’s science-backed approach is the only solution to inform every talent milestone by combining your data with their validated psychometrics.

BRYQ (40s):
Visit to book a demo with the talent intelligence team and realize the full potential of your business.

Matt Alder (1m 11s):
Hi, there. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to episode 405 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. One of the early discussion points in the pandemic was the access to global talent pools that the move to remote working could open up. Two years on and it is pretty clear that remote working is now a permanent fixture in the working life of many people. How far are employers tapping into global talent pools and what are the challenges and opportunities? My guest this week is Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners. Nicole and her company work with many employers who are building global remote teams, and she has some valuable insights and experiences to share.

Matt Alder (2m 1s):
Hi, Nicole. Welcome to the podcast.

Nicole Sahin (2m 3s):
Hi. It’s so nice to be here.

Matt Alder (2m 5s):
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do?

Nicole Sahin (2m 11s):
Yes, absolutely. I’m going to Nicole Sahin. I’m the CEO and Founder of Globalization Partners. What we do is we help companies expand internationally without them having to set up branch offices and subsidiaries in different countries or deal with the HR legal and tax implications of all the jurisdictions in which they might be able to find great talent.

Matt Alder (2m 32s):
Absolutely. Obviously, a topic that is very relevant to too many employers at the moment. The pandemics really bought huge changes in the ways that companies access talent. Whare are the long-term trends that you’re seeing from your perspective in terms of what you do?

Nicole Sahin (2m 47s):
Yes, it’s a great question. What we’re seeing is it’s no longer that the place to be is Silicon Valley, London, and New York. Now, the place to be is online, and the digital economy is booming. Companies don’t care where people are anymore. They desperately need great talent. I think that some of the barriers around like that mental barrier of, “This person’s in Mexico. They’re not going to be as good at the job as the person in Silicon Valley.” A lot of that is melting away and so it’s really coming down to, everyone everywhere work policies, which have huge societal changes and impacts on both the way we work and society overall, and also, of course, in the way that we live.

Nicole Sahin (3m 41s):
It’s all really incredibly exciting.

Matt Alder (3m 44s):
Absolutely. It’s been really interesting to see lots of employers embrace this, but at the same time, there are employees and teams out there who are still wrestling about opening up to these global talent pools. It was something that certainly, in the early days of the pandemic, lots of people were talking about, but not as many people were doing. That’s obviously starting to change, but talk us through what you’re seeing the benefits that companies are getting by building these remote global teams?

Nicole Sahin (4m 18s):
There are, I would say, three different benefits that they’re getting. First, the most obvious is access to talent. It’s always been true that there are incredibly talented people all over the globe. I think the pandemic and the tight labor market have just opened people’s eyes to how predominant it is to find great talent everywhere. Right now, you really can’t build a company, just looking within a 50-mile radius of HQ, and there’s no point. That’s one benefit. The second benefit is the ability to sell in new locations more quickly. When you can hire salespeople and access local knowledge all over the globe, a company that’s doing business in the United States can easily start doing business in Europe by hiring a European sales team very quickly so that acceleration of revenue globally is a huge benefit.

Nicole Sahin (5m 12s):
Finally, the third benefit, I would say, it’s like that you get so much more access to the diversity of ideas by opening your mind and your business to people from all over the globe. If you look at the trajectory of this, in the eighties and nineties, the common way that companies would expand into a new market was by taking someone in the US or in London if that was where headquarters was, and transplanting that person to China to go build a local team or build a team to access that market.

Nicole Sahin (5m 51s):
Now, what people realize is someone in China, it’s much easier to adjust that person to your company culture than it is to adjust an expatriate to that local culture. HR teams started to figure this out. I would say, 15 years ago, it started to become much more common to hire locals in each location, but that has exploded. It’s just now, everybody knows that hiring local people around the globe is great for your business. It adds diversity of ideas and it also brings a lot of joy to our work. It’s a lot more fun to get to know people from all over the globe. There are huge benefits again in both from a business perspective, but also from a human perspective.

Nicole Sahin (6m 34s):
That makes it a lot of fun to have this bird’s eye view of everything that’s happening in the world right now.

Matt Alder (6m 40s):
One of the things that there was a huge amount of discussion about as companies we’re forced to go remote for the first time, with the challenges around employee engagement and maximizing productivity when everyone’s working remotely, and thinking differently about those kinds of things than you would think about them, perhaps, in a face-to-face environment. With a permanent shift to these globally distributed teams, what are companies doing to deal with those challenges in terms of engagement and productivity?

Nicole Sahin (7m 18s):
I think everything’s gone online and there has to be a greater focus on building digital learning, asynchronous productivity meaning different people can work on different things in different time zones or when they’re available. There’s focus on that. First the training programs and asynchronous learning so everybody’s not in the same room at one time, but also building community in an online space. Those are the things that companies are really trying to figure out and do. I would say, the best companies we’re doing a lot of it already, but they just had to pivot even more to make it all online.

Nicole Sahin (8m 3s):
Just as an example, at Globalization Partners, we’ve hired about 700 internal employees since the beginning of the pandemic. That’s crazy. It’s like how did we hire and train all of these people whom we’ve literally mostly never met in person and yet bring them into the fold and make them feel like they’re part of a thriving business, that their creativity and ideas can be harnessed. What we did, we really focused on our onboarding with those employees. For example, from the moment on a new employee comes on board, their first two weeks are really planned, not just meeting people in their department, but meeting people from all over the organization that they can just have a quick coffee chat with or get to know as a person, as well as getting to know their work so that they have people to reach out to.

Nicole Sahin (8m 56s):
Putting all the training online, and then again, doing a lot of that online idea, space, and community building. There are a lot of businesses I think that are popping up as a result of this and it’s really exciting, again, to be a part of and witness.

Matt Alder (9m 14s):
We talked about a couple of the challenges there, but there are obviously other challenges for employers where they’re looking at building these global remote teams. What are the common challenges that you see and what advice would you give to talent acquisition teams who are looking at spreading their wings and hiring remotely in other countries?

Nicole Sahin (9m 34s):
I guess one challenge that I see is that organizations don’t necessarily know where to look for talent. When you post a job, for example, the job posting sites are still according to geography. That’s just the way the systems are set up and yet, most companies now that work in a primarily digital environment since most of us are not in the office, it’s really like I need the right person for the job anywhere they are. For example, we might need someone with a Silicon Valley-type background, but that person might no longer be living in San Francisco.

Nicole Sahin (10m 15s):
They might be living in Montana. What we would do, we wouldn’t post that job in Montana, but we would post it probably in San Francisco, Boston, New York, and then recruit from the type of companies that we want that talent from proactively, rather than thinking about the actual geography of the individual. What I would suggest as a mindset shift is really getting over the fear of hiring people outside your home jurisdiction or where your comfort zone is, and really just getting started.

Nicole Sahin (10m 56s):
For example, there was a chief technology officer that I knew, and like every other chief technology officer, he had budget constraints and he needed to hire really talented people and find where he could find people. We went through a broad exploration process of where could he find great people? The strategy that we found works a lot of times is to find a really good place where there’s lots of talent coming out of a university, for example. Lots of good engineers in Poland, Ukraine, and around some of the cities in Northern Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay.

Nicole Sahin (11m 44s):
There’s a culture around talent as well, and then proactively going out and looking for one lead person in that community. Looking for someone with an amazing background with an amazing company, so maybe a director of engineering from Google. Obviously, super smart, probably well-networked, and we’ll kind of be able to build a team around him or her, but it also took a big mindset shift. This person was used to hiring a lot of people in Boston and San Francisco to realize that there were going to be great talents in lots of places. To be honest, that individual would not have been successful in building the size team that was needed if he hadn’t reached outside his comfort zone, because you just have to do it.

Nicole Sahin (12m 33s):
What was found is that ultimately there are unbelievable people all over the world looking for great work and a mission that they can get excited about and engaged in. He was successful in making a much bigger team than he otherwise would have been if he had just stuck with his comfort zone.

Matt Alder (12m 51s):
That’s such a great example of some of the mindset changes that people have to make to really realize the advantages of the situation that we’re in now and we’re likely to be in for the long term. What are the mindset shifts do you think are useful or you’ve seen companies take to truly read the benefits of all?

Nicole Sahin (13m 11s):
Well, first, I think there’s a lot of fear. There’s a fear that if you hire someone who is culturally different or their first language is different, they’re not going to embrace your business as passionately as you do. What we found is that as soon as you start interviewing and talking to people around the globe, first, you can trust your intuition by video, just the same as you can trust your intuition in person. It’s a little harder to grasp it because when somebody is showing up in your office for an interview, you can tell how are they dressed? Did they polish their shoes? Are they excited about the job? Did they bring a folder with a resume? Did they have everything backed up and prepared? You can get the same vibe online including with other cultures, communities, and languages.

Nicole Sahin (13m 55s):
That’s the best thing to rely on. Is this person excited, passionate, engaged about the job and about communication with you, and are they professional? I think they can be a little bit intimidated by the fact that someone’s coming from another country or language. It just feels unfamiliar so getting over that hurdle first really opens up the entire world of talent to you. It is a mental hurdle and I understand it completely because it can make you nervous. Another mindset change that employers need to realize is to embrace the difference and not assume that there’s negativity when something is confusing so give somebody the benefit of the doubt. Just to give you an example of a cross-cultural thing that I saw happened one time.

Nicole Sahin (14m 43s):
I had a customer, an HR person, who had a general manager in the middle east. Some of the GM’s employees who reported to him, one of them had a child. Part of the compensation structure in this part of the middle east is an education allowance for each child that is going to school. It’s just called an education allowance. The GM called the HR person and said, “We need to kick in this person’s education allowance for this third child.”

Nicole Sahin (15m 30s):
The HR person was so upset. She called me and she’s like, “I feel like my GM is trying to work the system on behalf of his employee. He’s asking for an education allowance, but obviously, this child was just born. He’s not going to school. What should I do here? Should I fire my GM for trying to work the system?” Actually, it turns out that the education allowance in the middle east is almost like a paternity bonus. The idea is that you have an additional member of your family that you have to take care of now and it’s part of the culture of the employer to acknowledge that the employee has more people to take care of, more expenses.

Nicole Sahin (16m 13s):
Usually, they do start paying the education allowance sooner. Just knowing that put her mind at ease because no, she doesn’t have a GM who’s trying to work the system. She has someone who is trying to take care of the employee and do the right thing in accordance with the cultural norm of that place. I find that a lot of times, if people just start with the benefit of the doubt, that’s usually a good place to start and, at least, open the conversation and figure out what’s going on.

Matt Alder (16m 44s):
One of the other interesting aspects around this is employer brand. Obviously, companies may have focused on building an employer brand that was geographically specific or they’re particularly well-known in a particular location or a particular country. What are the implications for employer branding when you immediately open yourself out to pretty much the whole rest of the world?

Nicole Sahin (17m 11s):
Yes, it’s a really good question and a really good point. It really matters. It’s funny. At least where I am near the Silicon valley and the type of companies that are Silicon Valley-based, employer brand is critical, but it’s also seen as obvious. You’re going to want to work for the coolest startup. In a lot of countries, first of all, your employer brand as a cool startup is totally unknown, but also a lot of people are not attracted. That’s a cultural thing of being in California. We all want to work for the coolest startups. In a lot of Asian countries and some other parts of the world, working for a startup is not seen as cool.

Nicole Sahin (17m 58s):
Working for Samsung is seen as cool, working for Apple, or some big established company with that stability that would show your prospective partner and future in-laws that you’re going to be a stable, reliable, contributing professional as a family member. Employer brand being unknown can make it really hard to recruit in new locations, but there’s a lot that can at least start to be done. Again, everything is transforming to being even more online than it ever was, but employer brand is critical. We all know people want to work for an organization that they’re passionate about.

Nicole Sahin (18m 39s):
Making money or making a salary is no longer the primary or sole objective. That’s just like setting the table. Of course, there has to be food at the table, but making it a beautiful table and making it feel good, there’s so much competition in the market and people are just not going to spend their time and energy on something they don’t feel passionate about. Employer brand is absolutely critical and you also can’t run from it in today’s era of Glassdoor reviews. Employer branding has never been more important, more worth investing in. Yes, it’s absolutely critical to be able to build your team, which is the only way you can build your business.

Matt Alder (19m 23s):
Now you’ve recently authored a best-selling book. Tell us about the book, what it’s about, and why you wrote it.

Nicole Sahin (19m 31s):
Thank you so much. Yes, I just published Global Talent Unleashed, which is a guide to helping executives conquer the world and build a global team beyond their wildest imagination. It’s really about just getting started and why to start to think about building a global team and really a step-by-step guide to how to do it. Where to look for different types of talent, how to manage people in different countries, and what are some of the cross-cultural things that come up as well, some of the legal issues that pop up and arise as you’re hiring all over the globe.

Nicole Sahin (20m 13s):
I tried to cover the top regions and countries of the world where our customers are most often hiring people and encapsulate 20 years of business knowledge into one, easy-to-use guide that will help other executives take their companies global. In writing that, I was supported by my team in capturing a lot of their knowledge as well.

Matt Alder (20m 38s):
Final question. What does the future look like from your perspective? If we were having this conversation again in two years time, what would we be talking about?

Nicole Sahin (20m 46s):
Two years from now, I think there will be a lot of lessons learned as most of the world will have migrated to an online, global, digital world of work where possible. Software companies aren’t going back to the office. I think a few companies have tried it on a tentative basis or said, “We can’t move away from a work-from-home. We have to go back to the offices. Everybody’s vaccinated in a lot of developed countries now and we all have to be at the office.” In this labor market, people do not want to have to go to an office if they don’t have to.

Nicole Sahin (21m 27s):
Of course, there are some jobs that have to be worked in person, restaurants and things like that, but as much as people can work from home, they want to and that is not going to change. This is a one-way effort towards a work-from-home, digital economy. With that work-from-home policies also comes the global world of work. I’m excited to be at the forefront of it. It’s a beautiful thing to witness this transformation in society, and also play a key part in helping our companies execute on their plans to access the entire world of talent.

Nicole Sahin (22m 8s):
I think we’ll also look back on some societal shifts related to it. People being able to be closer to their families, the development of more rural economies, people being closer to their homes, all of which is really exciting and interesting to see both from who we are as people, but also from a business perspective and being part of it.

Matt Alder (22m 33s):
Closing question. Where can people find you and where can they find the book?

Nicole Sahin (22m 37s):
Yes, absolutely. They can find me through my company. It’s My name again is Nicole Sahin. They can find me on LinkedIn and they can find the book on Amazon. It’s called Global Talent Unleashed.

Matt Alder (22m 49s):
Nicole, thank you very much for talking to me.

Nicole Sahin (22m 52s):
Thank you. It was an absolute pleasure to be here.

Matt Alder (22m 56s):
My thanks to Nicole. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at On that site, you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show. Thanks so much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.

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