Globalization Partners expands Galway hub to capitalise on remote working trend

Nicole Sahin has built her $4.2bn business on one very timely idea

Nicole Sahin, founder of Globalization Partners

Fearghal O'Connor

Ireland has become a central part in the rapid growth story of Globalization Partners – and founder Nicole Sahin sees no end in sight to expansion at its European hub in Galway.

The Boston firm announced last week that it planned creating 160 jobs in Galway during 2022, doubling its headcount.

“That is a drop in the bucket,” CEO and founder Nicole Sahin told the Sunday Independent. “We’ll get way past that. Way past 400.”

The firm, which also announced that a new $200m funding round had valued it at $4.2bn, hires teams of remote staff in 187 different countries on behalf of other businesses, eliminating HR, legal and tax complications.

Not only does the $1bn-plus revenue firm run its EMEA operation out of Galway, Irish staff are amongst the most sought after by its clients, she says. She does not reveal how many staff it provides in Ireland or globally – but a survey by Grow Remote has found it to be one of the biggest employers of remote workers in rural Ireland.

“We have just found Ireland to be a great country for talent, and a lot of our senior leadership is actually in Ireland. So… super-talented people, great work ethic – it’s really been working for us.”

The firm, she adds, is ready to “really double-down in Ireland”.

“We will hire as many talented people there as we can find. We have started really building out our engineering team quite a bit more, and there’s just so much product and engineering talent [in Ireland]. And we were also planning our expansion further – from a sales and marketing perspective – into the EU. And we thought that Ireland was the best place from which to ground those operations.”

Ireland has done a particularly good job setting up economic policies, drawing companies to the country, she says.

“You can’t stop the movement of people in the global market. Most of our customers that are hiring talent in Ireland are hiring people to sell US goods, products and services through Europe. So, ultimately, it creates jobs in America and it creates jobs in Ireland.”

Previously, American companies would import talented workers using H1B speciality worker visas.

“But since the visas have gotten harder to use, people are just hiring the talent wherever it sits – and in many cases, it sits in Ireland, because of its highly educated population, English-speaking, great work ethic, a generally affable culture, as well as great government policies that support inward investment.”

Before starting Globalization Partners, Sahin worked for a consulting firm that helped companies expand internationally, typically taking six to 12 months to deal with all the HR, legal and tax issues.

“I could see there was a much more scalable way to hire global teams,” she says.

Sahin quit her job in 2011 and travelled around the globe, meeting tax advisers and lawyers in 24 countries. A year later she set about the mammoth task of building a global employment platform, with a company in each country.

“Companies can then plug into our platform, which is effectively a web of global compliance. We’re like the Amazon cloud of global expansion.

“Our customers go out and find the person that they want to hire in Ireland, or anywhere else around the globe in 187 countries, and we put their employee on our legally compliant payroll in that country, arranging local benefits, tax, payroll costs and everything through to the end customer.”

Typically, firms use the platform to quickly build sales and marketing teams in new markets or also to cut operating costs by hiring teams in lower-cost places.

“If you hire everybody in London or Dublin, it’s much more expensive than hiring everybody in Galway, for example. But we are seeing salaries level out. Everybody’s getting a global salary now, or at least we’re on that trajectory. It’ll take 10 years to get there, but it’s a compelling trend for people in rural areas.”

With staff shortages rife, the platform is being used to source remote staff.

“You can’t find enough engineers in any one city anymore,” she said. “Companies have realised that if everyone is remote anyway, then they should hire the best person for the job, no matter where that person sits.

“It used to be the place to be was Dublin or London or New York. Now the place to be is online. As long as you have the skill set, companies appear to be willing to pay. It is pretty exciting and a little unpredictable as well.”