Nicole Sahin does not hold back about her intention for Globalization Partners to take over the world, and based on its performance, the company is on track to do so. Since its founding in 2012, the global employer of record, which helps companies expand into 150-plus countries without setting up branch offices and subsidiaries, has experienced astonishing growth, landing Sahin and the company on some of the most desirable accolade lists, including the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing private companies in America, the Boston Business Journal’s Fast 50 list and the Women Presidents’ Organization’s list of the 50 fastest-growing women-owned/led companies. Building a high-growth, high-profit business is not enough at Globalization Partners, though, which also places a heavy emphasis on its award-winning client service and company culture, key ingredients to its success.
We recently sat down with Sahin and two of the firm’s executives – Debbie Millin, chief operating officer, and Nancy Cremins, chief administrative officer and general counsel – to discuss the challenges associated with being a woman-owned firm and what advice they would give to their younger selves.
What is the biggest difference between working with senior women and working in your prior roles, which were mostly male-dominated?
Debbie Millin: There’s no fighting to be heard. Everybody’s heard and respected, which is unique. In the past, I often was the only woman in the room, and it’s different. Sometimes you feel like they’re looking right through you as if you’re not even there. That never happens here. Everybody is at the top of their game, and everybody is heard.
Nancy Cremins: For me, it’s being able to bring my entire self to work – not having to hide that I’m a whole person. Oftentimes in the legal environment, you are just a lawyer. You are not a lawyer who may have young children or aging parents. People have a whole life outside of the office that should get attention because it makes them better at work. Being able to bring my whole self to work and knowing that I am trusted to get my job done no matter where and at what time of the day is a huge benefit.
Are there any challenges associated with being a woman-owned firm?
NS: No. If anything, I was a little nervous about doing business in other countries that are more patriarchal, but once I stopped holding myself back and went there, I was treated with the utmost respect.
The best part, though, is that sometimes people underestimate us. I’m a polite, kind person, but I have a strong resolve and am tenacious in terms of my intention to have Globalization Partners take over the world, and people don’t expect it. We get a lot of press for being an all-female team and for the company culture we’ve built, and I think it plays into people underestimating us. They’ll think, “Oh, isn’t that cute. You girls go build your nice culture.” Meanwhile, we’re years ahead of the industry and leading from the forefront in a way that has never been done before.
What is the one piece of advice you would give your younger self?
DM: Keep your head up. I always thought early in my career that if I kept my head down and worked hard, that was all it took, but it’s not. Part of your job is knowing what’s going on around you and how you fit into the business. Networking is part of your job. Once you start working, having that network outside of your company becomes important.
NC: I think a lot of young women who are academically talented think they can set a path and that it will go that way because they will it, and I was that person. What I would tell myself is that the path is not the path that you think. It will be more of an adventure than a straight line, but it’s all going to turn out OK in the end. You have to take the journey, and when you fall down, the important thing is how you get back up again.
NS: Mine is to never underestimate the power of your intuition – it’s always right.
Interview conducted by Jake Turner and Adrienne Penta, and article written by Kaitlin Barbour.
More from this interview can be found in the third quarter 2018 Owner to Owner article, “Big Thinking, Fast Growth and Collaboration: A Conversation with Globalization Partners.”
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