Nicole Sahin of Globalization Partners: “Don’t give special allowances for anyone because you know them”

Don’t give special allowances for anyone because you know them — It didn’t take long for me to figure that out, but I still had to go through that experience to grow as an entrepreneur. I’ve also learned that people who end up helping on your journey are not the people you expect, and you might be […]

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Don’t give special allowances for anyone because you know them — It didn’t take long for me to figure that out, but I still had to go through that experience to grow as an entrepreneur. I’ve also learned that people who end up helping on your journey are not the people you expect, and you might be surprised by those who do and who support you the most.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicole Sahin, founder and CEO of Globalization Partners.

Nicole had a simple childhood growing up in the Midwest, and as she reached adulthood, she had big dreams of connecting people around the world to greater economic opportunities for everyone. Her mission is to eliminate barriers to doing business internationally and building global teams. She has created an innovative Employer of Record solution that enables companies to hire talent anywhere in the world without the complexity of setting up international branch offices or subsidiaries.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I traveled quite a bit while in college, and during that time, I discovered that, if more people could get to know each other in different countries, the barriers that were traditionally in place would break down. I also always had big dreams of improving economic conditions for people all over the world by connecting everyone, everywhere to a more globalized workplace. Eventually, I decided that the only way to make the type of positive change I envisioned was through business. After I came up with the idea of Globalization Partners, I traveled to 24 different countries to determine if the business model would work from an international legal and tax perspective. Once I concluded that it would, I immediately got to work to begin changing the way the world works.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Globalization Partners’ work is disruptive because we eliminate the traditional barriers to doing business internationally and building global teams. Our employer of record (EOR) model enables companies to hire talent anywhere in the world in as little as 12 hours. When a company wants to hire an employee in a new country, they typically have to set up their own subsidiary or branch office, bank accounts, and reliable payroll system. They also need to procure local legal guidance to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations, including labor laws and tax protocols. In some cases, they’re even required to formally begin doing business before hiring a single employee. Globalization Partners removes those burdens by taking on all the behind-the-scenes work, leaving companies to onboard the best talent they can find — wherever they may live. That allows companies to focus on the employee: making them feel welcomed, engaged, included, and one-with-the-team.

Further market disruption comes via our proprietary EOR technology platform, which includes a highly automated and modern user interface and client tools for managing co-employed workers. The platform is cloud-based and can be accessed globally via mobile or desktop. Among its many features and capabilities are an automated employment contract experience that enables companies to create competitive employment offers efficiently and compliantly. It also provides a reporting function that empowers finance teams with detailed invoice reporting by country and employee and a help center that provides extensive support content and the ability to connect with subject matter experts. Unlike competitive offerings that are cobbled together from various sources, our EOR technology was developed in-house by Globalization Partners on a single platform for a more cohesive user experience.

Another thing that sets us apart from competitors is our deep global HR and payroll compliance expertise supported by established legal entities and resources across 54 locations/countries globally. We have a low reliance on third parties and are primarily enabled in-house. This gives us a differentiated level of control over our end-to-end delivery model, which includes compliance, data, and security. In addition, we place a strong emphasis and investment in the customer experience as a differentiator and maintain 97% customer satisfaction as a result.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the earlier start of my business, I needed to fly down to South America to set up bank accounts for our Brazil and Argentina companies. As I was getting ready to leave for my early morning flight, I realized I had forgotten to get a visa for the trip. As someone who is not only an avid traveler but also as someone who runs a global business, how could I forget something so simple yet so important? I had to laugh at myself and can say that hasn’t ever happened again!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

One of my greatest mentors was my professor and friend Dr. Peter Grothe at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. He had a PhD in Cross-Cultural Communication and made it his life’s work to integrate and connect people from all over the world. He had a way of speaking to people that made them feel inspired to live up to their greatest potential. He was able to identify incredibly talented individuals from all over the world, then sponsor them to come to the Institute, where he would then send them off on amazing careers. He was an extraordinary person. His belief in me inspired me to have the faith that I could do great things. He taught me to always look for the special talent that everyone has and to encourage each person to use it to its maximum potential towards a common goal. In many ways, building an exceptional team is very much like that, and I have always told our team at Globalization Partners that they are my Dream Team. The team has now fully adopted that hashtag and the whole company refers to itself as the Dream Team. The beginning of the Dream Team concept started with me personally interviewing at least the first 200 employees of the company and looking for people who were not only competent and skilled but also passionate about our work of connecting people from around the world to achieve their business goals.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Some ideas stand the test of time, and some industries need to be disrupted. Globalization Partners is considered disruptive in the global expansion industry because our platform enables companies to bypass the traditional barriers to global expansion and employ anyone, anywhere without setting up foreign subsidiaries. It’s largely positive on society as a whole because it makes it easy for companies to establish remote teams in any country.

Industries that need to be disrupted are industries that haven’t kept up with the leading edge of what people need or are causing frustration. A positive example of disruption is seen in the taxi industry. We all remember wondering if our cab was going to show up (or not) and the often less-than-stellar customer service. They took advantage of having a lock on the industry and weren’t innovative enough. Building an app that was reliable, had a driver rating system, enabled anyone to drive, and kicked out non-productive drivers was brilliant! Great example of disruption.

In the end, no industry will stand the test of time unless it continually innovates. In addition, companies that constantly innovate and also have strong core values are usually here for the long term. For example, Southwest Airlines has “LOVE” as a guiding principle and even uses LUV as its ticker symbol. They’ve always sought to build a business that their clients love and have done so by taking a different approach from many other airlines. For example, they don’t charge baggage fees or change flight fees because that’s not what their business philosophy is about. They’re fun, and their team members are notoriously loyal to the company because the company treats them well in turn. Their business philosophy is actually about making people happy — their clients and their employees. That is a philosophy that will stand the test of time, and last I checked, my investment advisor told me that Southwest Airlines is the only travel stock he’d buy right now (in the midst of Covid).

Industries that need to be disrupted are the industries that don’t hold up to those types of core values. Also, depending on the industry, the pace of disruption can be a little hard for society to keep up with, and that’s where some negativity might come in.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Business Partners/Co-founders are not always needed — At one point I was talking to a prospective co-founder/business partner, and there was a lot of work that went into that. I called my friend who was a lawyer, and he said, “The only ship that doesn’t float is a partnership.” It made complete sense to me, and right when he said that, I knew I did not want a business partner/co-founder.

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. It is 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 I still had to go through that experience to grow as an entrepreneur. I’ve also learned that people who end up helping on your journey are not the people you expect, and you might be surprised by those who do and who support you the most.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We recently announced the next evolution of our proprietary EOR platform by unveiling our Self-Service Global Expansion Experience, which is a cloud-based, customer-led journey that streamlines the process of building global teams by putting the country-specific requirements of onboarding at the customer’s fingertips. Companies can choose a new country to expand into, approve costs to hire identified talent, generate a locally-compliant employment contract, and issue insurance benefits. The employees are supported via our entities on the ground in each country, enabling customers to bypass the complexities associated with navigating cross-border legal, HR, and tax issues in-house. This technology simplifies and expedites the international hiring process, but since automation can’t always replace the value of access to industry experts, personalized service from Globalization Partners’ team is always just a click away.

The Self-Service Global Expansion Experience is part of Globalization Partners’ EOR platform that allows businesses to compliantly grow and manage their global teams — all in one place. The automated technology comes at a time when the EOR industry is increasingly on the rise as a means for forward-thinking companies to expand their teams globally. A recent report from industry analyst firm NelsonHall found that despite the recent global economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, buyers of global EOR services show no signs of stopping their expansion efforts with EMEA and APAC being the top targeted regions for expansion. The research also named Globalization Partners as an industry leader among its peers, and we couldn’t be more excited.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

The most important part of my job is to set the strategic direction of the company, and that requires staying on the leading edge of what’s happening in technology as well as being able to envision the future of our industry. I regularly read the MIT Tech Review, Harvard Business Review, and other periodicals. Envisioning the future of the industry requires a bit more inspiration, so I’ve focused my specific responses on things that inspire me in my work at Globalization Partners.

One book I find inspiring is Leila Janah’s Give Work: Reducing Poverty One Job at a Time. As a social entrepreneur her thesis is that helping those in disadvantaged financial situations to connect with companies that need the human capital ultimately helps people help themselves. We are all united by our common drive: being able to create meaning through work we’re passionate about and to provide for our families. Enabling people to work is an exceptionally powerful way to change the world — that’s a core part of what we do at Globalization Partners.

I also regularly listen to Steven Pinker’s YouTube lecture, “The Better Angels of our Nature,” which is based on his book of the same title. In a year when we’ve had a pandemic and major divisions in our society that haven’t brought out the best in us, Pinker’s work reminds me to think from a different perspective, from a historical long-term vantage point to help appreciate the times in which we live, despite the day to day perils facing our communities. We have current struggles, yes, including major social, economic, and medical struggles which we must take seriously in order to continue moving forward. Pinker reminds me that despite this great mound of work before us, we do live in an absolutely wonderful time when compared to our forefathers. We live in a time where the trajectory is towards progress. It’s great to remember that what we do to contribute towards that trajectory matters.

At Globalization Partners, in addition to our core mission of breaking down barriers to global business and between everyone, everywhere, we also run an ethical company that benefits all stakeholders. It’s always been important to me to build a company that our clients and our employees love, and that has always been a guiding light to the business.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you’re going to live, leave a legacy. Make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” –Maya Angelou

Her powerful words reinforce my deeply-held belief that, once you decide to do something, make sure to put in your whole-hearted effort to make it amazing. I decided I wanted to make a business that was going to change the way the world works — that’s the legacy I want to leave.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would like to inspire or ask all the billionaires in the world to give away a portion of money that they could never realistically spend. Bill Gates’ The Giving Pledge is a great place to start, and I really hope more people sign it. It is hard knowing there are so many people in the world that do not have clean water or food, but with just a little bit of everyone’s help, we could make a huge difference in the lives of so many.

How can our readers follow you online?

Please check out the latest and greatest from Globalization Partners on our website-

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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