As a startup CEO and the mother of two children under the age of two, my presence on the tech scene is already fairly irregular, demographically speaking. I recently made an additional unusual step of moving my young family over 7,000 miles across the world to oversee the opening of my company’s new offices in San Francisco.
Opening a new office in a new city, state, or country involves managing an expenditure budget, hiring, making key infrastructure decisions, and many other tasks, sometimes in a foreign language. As CEO, you can hire someone new or send over an existing employee to do the job. But there are some very good reasons to make the move yourself, even if the timing isn’t the best for you personally. Here are four of them:
1. Company Culture
Company culture is such a core element of the modern workplace, and many companies are highly invested in having built a particular company culture. So it is only natural that the new offices should not come with an entirely new culture of their own but should be an extension of the existing company culture.
Inter-city, -state, and -country offices should strive for a sense of connectedness and cultural continuity, such that someone walking into any one of the branches would have a similar experience at each. The best way to achieve this cultural continuity is with a personally invested CEO – more fluent in company culture than anyone else – at the expansion helm.
Culture begins with employees, and having the CEO involved in the recruitment process is the best way to ensure that new team members are a good match for the company ethos. Entrusting the face of a company across the globe to a brand new team is serious business, and the company’s new employees as well as the brand of the company benefit greatly from having the CEO overseeing those hirings.
Being on the ground in the new office from day one means the CEO can grow the staff and identify a suitable replacement at the executive level when the office has hit a level of autonomous operation and it becomes time for the CEO to return home.
3. Face Time
The whole point of opening a new regional office is to better serve local clients and attract new ones. It is therefore crucial to show your clients that the new office takes its relationship with them seriously. As such, giving clients the opportunity to have “CEO face time” is invaluable in building relationships and credibility, particularly where a new office is concerned.
4. Operational Efficiency
Having the CEO on location during the process of establishing a new office makes for more efficient day-to-day operations, especially if your HQ is many time zones away. Anyone whose job requires them to communicate with clients, colleagues, or managers on an international scale knows full well the frustration of having to wait until the next day for a response or authorization from across the globe — and this can really slow things down when working to efficiently set up a new office with an entirely new team, and most likely, multiple new clients.
Provided the pre-existing office has been left with strong management teams, the systems in place should function so that CEO-level approval isn’t required as frequently as it would be for the new offices.
For these reasons, CEOs moving in the direction of multinational expansion should consider relocating to facilitate the process personally. Aside from all the logistical benefits, the credibility reaped in showing new clients the vital company role that the new office represents cannot be overstated.
Chen Levanon is CEO of mobile performance network ClicksMob. She is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel.
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