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Conducting the Globalization Orchestra

By Rob Starr, Content Manager

There’s a constant in any business and a theme you’ll hear more often than not no matter who you talk to and which industry they work in. Change is constant and even after years of moving toward a world wide economy by working the levers of globalization, professionals who understand the concepts are saying the time to recalibrate but not abandon these decades old ideas is upon us.

While many headlines and economists are fashioning the picture with only black and white paints and predicting globalization will break under the collective weights of a new American administration and other influences like Brexit, others are taking a more tempered approach.

The flux for businesses

Globalization guru Anna Schlegel is the Sr. Director, Globalization and Information Engineering at NetApp and the Co-Founder of Women in Localization. Her credentials in the companies that have acted as the flux for businesses looking beyond borders include times with heavy hitters like Cisco Systems and the Xerox Corporation where she managed the global online content. Her views on today’s globalization climate have been crafted by experience and as such make up a carefully thought out set of responses to the latest challenges the global business community is facing.

Silicon Valley

“The process of taking your products to international markets is what we call globalization,” says

Anna Schlegel

Anna Schlegel

the expert that has worked for various well-known American firms in Silicon Valley. “When I started doing this twenty plus years ago, we were importing foreign talent to help us to the work here. The change is we are now laying off a lot of the people we imported and taking our jobs to other countries.”

Smaller teams

One of the results is that teams are smaller today with the work contracted out through agencies.

“Not only that, but I’ve had to hire from countries where the labor is cheaper,” says the author of Truly Global, a book based on her experience with enterprise globalization.

“It’s a very interesting dilemma where the companies that I work for are shifting the site strategies from high end paying places,” she says. “These policies that are designed to penetrate places like China and Russia to make more money is a very capitalist proposition that comes with a very heavy price because the work needs to be done outside of the U.S.”

The whole process, according to Schlegel, is akin to putting puzzle pieces together. She writes in her book:

Going global means to expand your business into new markets, but getting there is much more complicated than simply opening a shop overseas. Globalization in a business is multifaceted, complex, and not to be instigated without careful and experienced management. Globalization is not just a single concept, or two or three.

“It’s like an orchestra,” she says adding that there are a large amount of high tech engineering resources in many different countries. These people are quite often educated in the United States, and, when they migrate back to their homelands, they raise the standard of living there.

According to Schlegel, conducting the globalization orchestra then becomes a game of looking for the next cheaper low cost place to produce products.

However, she cautions against only looking at the bottom line and cost cutting. Rather, she stresses  balance as a clear path to sustained globalization efforts that work.

“I have people from 22 different countries on my team. Not everyone can outsource. You need to find the hubs for knowledge,” she says. “For example, there are certain areas where we are very strong in the United States I would never outsource. Yet, certain budgets I have come with certain ideas and with an amount of innovation I want to drive, so I need to be really well balanced as to how I use my company’s money.”

Schlegel’s recent book, Truly Global, is available here.



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