Founder and CEO of Globalization Partners, Nicole Sahin created the company’s innovative Global Expansion Platform™, which empowers businesses to hire anyone, anywhere within a few business days – expanding their global footprint without the need to set up in country branch offices or subsidiaries.
She credits the company’s success to an exceptional team with global expansion in their DNA, and to her philosophy of the Triple Bottom Line – what’s good for the clients and the employees is good for the shareholders. From day one, Nicole has built Globalization Partners to scale, with a mindset towards meeting the needs of Fortune 1000 companies, which require the highest compliance standards in the world.
Nicole is also heavily involved in a number of non-profit endeavours, most of which focus on eliminating extreme poverty through education and economic development. She’s currently on the board of School the World and has spearheaded efforts to build schools in rural communities in Guatemala and Cambodia. She also works on gender and racial equality initiatives and serves as the Vice-Chair of Diversity on the Membership Committee of YPO New England.
Nicole 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.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background, and your current role/business
My name is Nicole Sahin and I am the CEO and founder of Globalization Partners. We make it easy for businesses to hire anyone, anywhere within a few business days – enabling them to expand into new markets without the need to set up in-country branch offices or subsidiaries.
For example, when a company wants to hire an employee in a given country, normally they must set up their own subsidiary or branch office and bank accounts. Trying to achieve this in the traditional sense is hard. It requires businesses to understand a country’s local labour laws, register the company, and formally start doing business in said country before they can even hire one employee. That process is really intimidating and time consuming.
Our business model is built on having a subsidiary set up in each country, so we can run the newly hired employee through our company and bill it back to the client — companies don’t have to set up their own infrastructure. Globalization Partners becomes the employer of record, meaning employees are working for their desired company, but we legitimately manage all the legal, HR, and payroll compliance.
From the clients’ perspective, we have a technology infrastructure that makes it easy to work with us, local knowledge to answer your specific questions, and on-the-ground presence in-country that is invaluable.
We have employees all over the world too. It’s important to me to create a great company culture that employees love. It is part of my Triple Bottom Line of doing business: prioritising happy clients, happy employees, and happy shareholders. While a Triple Bottom Line may sound like an obvious formula for growth, it might also feel unrealistic. Its contradictory to the typical blitz scaling mantra right now, which is “growth at all costs.” But the reality is, companies who focus only on growth end up underpaying people and treating customers so poorly that growth is ultimately unsustainable. Globalization Partners is proof that the Triple Bottom Line is an exceptionally good strategy for growth. This is a big part of my mission now and in the future.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Not in the traditional sense of a plan, no. I have always been a traveller. Globalization Partners began as many companies do — with an idea: the best companies and brightest people should be able to seamlessly collaborate, without regard to jurisdiction. Our goal has always been to make international workforce expansion seamless. I’m proud to say that our solution is helping companies achieve their goals faster than they could have imagined.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as an entrepreneur?
Take one step at a time. When starting your own business, even if you have a huge vision, it always starts with the first few steps: like registering the company, starting a website, and signing your first client. So, take these incremental steps, one foot forward at a time. Also, when the time comes, hire the very best people that you can find.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
Of course. When I got the idea for Globalization Partners, I took a chance, quit my job, and travelled to 24 countries over 12 months laying the groundwork for the business. I took this time to talk to lawyers and tax advisors, and explored how to make the business legally possible. The day after my non-compete expired with my previous employer, I set up the website and started the business.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
We just received $150 million in private equity funding at the beginning of 2020! A big milestone for the company. The company was bootstrapped up until this point and was totally built on revenue. Today, Globalization Partners has now been valued at more than $500 million dollars.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
I’m incredibly fortunate to have one of the best teams out there, sourced from all over the globe. As we bring new people onto the team, we really focus on communications and emphasizing our culture first. Also, having a leadership team that is 100 percent on board with your philosophy is key. For example, Debbie Millin, my COO, has ensured that our team is ahead of our growth curve and meets the standards of a world-class company.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I believe that organisational growth starts with individual growth. I tell every new hire in a country that I expect everyone in my company to “lead” by inspiring and mentoring.
What is your advice on accelerating the pace of change for Gender Equality and creating a diverse workforce?
I am conscious of all diversity, not just gender, during our recruitment process. We used to have a mostly female executive team, but that isn’t diverse. It’s important to be conscious of what a balanced team looks like, include people from all walks of life to the table, and be cognisant about achieving this. Since we’re hiring 170+ people this year, diversity is on my mind all the time.
Connecting and building relationships with my diverse, global team is important to make sure everyone feels included and woven into the company culture. I’m a big believer in video calling. It’s not strange at Globalization Partners for me to videocall or even FaceTime with our team members. You can have a more impactful conversation than if you couldn’t see them. Like say, I reach out to our employee in Brazil, where English is their second language, video really helps in being able to interpret facial expressions and lip-read. Aspects like these can all help towards building and working with a diverse team.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Be confident in owning your work and stepping out to say, “this is my business.” In my previous role, I had closed millions of dollars’ worth of deals, but when I signed my first contact with Globalization Partners, I cried and called my mom – it was so meaningful that someone trusted me.
I would also tell myself that the people who end up helping on your journey are not the people you expect, and you might be surprised by those who do and support you the most.
It’s also important to run the business for yourself, with integrity and ethics. Don’t give special allowances for anyone because you know them. It didn’t take long for me to figure that out, but still, I had to go through that experience to grow as an entrepreneur.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My vision for the future is to maximize the opportunity for companies to realise the benefits of global teams. Globalization Partners is doubling in size in the next two years and we are expanding operations around the globe.
We aim to triple the number of incoming clients and are also setting up offices in London and throughout English speaking Europe and Asia. We have just scratched the surface of the market, and you will be hearing about us a lot this year!
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