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Outsourcing: Peter Harrison, CEO Of GlobalLogic (Part 8)

Posted on Monday, Sep 27th 2010

By guest author Tony Scott

Ensuring a Sense of Common Purpose Across a Global Team

Peter: Creating a sustainable culture is important. There are a couple of things to say about our experience here at GlobalLogic. First of all, we started as an R&D business from the outset. We didn’t evolve to be one; we started with that idea and goal from the ground up. Most of the people here in senior positions today come from product companies. So, we have that in our DNA. My two previous companies were product companies, so I have spent more time in product companies than in service companies.

We’ve also gone out of our way to organize counter to geography. We’ve deliberately organized across geography as opposed to with geography.  It’s tougher; it’s definitely more challenging, but I think ultimately it’s the right way to do it. It’s the way to ensure that there is consistency and a sense of common purpose.

We also do our best to encourage migration, with as many people as possible. As I said, it’s hard moving people from India to Ukraine but is quite easy moving people from Ukraine to India, just in terms of visas. But we definitely go out of our way wherever we can to make sure that there is migration of team members from one location to another. So, there is constant movement, and especially at the senior levels it’s really helpful having that kind of movement. For example, there’s someone going from the United States to India to play a very senior role in India in September.

Tony: That’s great – it is really important to create bridges between operations and cultures if you want to build a singular global culture.  But if you look at your senior level team, the people who are reporting to you, are those people relatively globally dispersed as well?

Peter: I was reading a year ago – I think it was Lenovo that has an executive team of five or six people and each one lives in a different country – almost five or six different continents.  I’d love to know how they do that [laughter].

Tony: Whenever they have team e-staff conference calls, several people are clearly going to be very inconvenienced and end up being very tired.

Peter: [Laughter.] Right. I’m embarrassed to say that my executive team is all based in the United States.  But I am very proud of the fact that we are not an American company, we’re a global company. By that I mean we don’t think like an American company, we don’t think like an Indian company, we don’t think like a Ukrainian company, we really go out of our way to think like a global company.

Tony: What do you mean by that?

Peter: Well, first of all we really have worked to embrace diversity.  Among my top ten executives we have people from South Africa, from the UK, from the States, from India, from Argentina, from Ukraine, from all over, so we deliberately have a diverse team. We are proactive in ensuring that we’ve got a diverse team, and we go out of our way to make sure that when we look at things we look at them through a global lens and we don’t let ourselves fall into a U.S. mindset.

We set global goals. As an example, as a business we said in three years we want 50% of our revenue to be non-U.S. revenue. We don’t want any one country to be more than 50% of either our revenue source or our revenue delivery. We intend to be a diversified business and distributed business in that way. As I said, we’ve also gone out of our way to organize by domain and not by geography.

So, each business unit today is organized in such a way that it has representation in each country we operate in. Each unit has a portion of its team in India, Ukraine, Argentina, or China. Each business unit is represented in each of the four major BRIC countries, and it looks at where to do work based on which city has the best skills for that work.

Tony: Based on a particular customer’s need?

Peter: Yes, but we’ve thought about that even before a client ever enters the picture. We make decisions on which particular cities that we work in are the best places for a particular skill set.

Tony: So you staff your team based on where the best skills exist, regardless of geography, and you can do that because you aren’t organized by geography.

Peter: Right. And we’re going to find and build teams based on that skill map. Then as clients come in we’re going to round out the team by looking for people in a particular city because that’s the best place, of the fourteen cities that we operate in, that’s the best city for this skill. Some of these things we do to help build and create our culture are small things, but they all do add up.

This segment is part 8 in the series : Outsourcing: Peter Harrison, CEO Of GlobalLogic
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Very interesting interview. Many thought-provoking points, some of which my own industry experience or observation corroborates. It reminds me somewhat about the earlier interview series on this blog with Anand Deshpande, CEO of Persistent Systems, by the same writer, Tony Scott; that was also a very good series.

Thanks,
Vasudev

Vasudev Ram Tuesday, September 28, 2010 at 3:02 PM PT