Phillip Lew’s C9 Staff is taking the global agency industry by storm in helping employers around the world leverage the enormous talent from emerging markets like Latin America, Eastern Europe, South East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and more.
Dasha: How has the pandemic in your view impacted how agencies hire and deploy staff within their organization?
Phillip: In my view, three primary forces have been steadily accelerating across various industries over the last five decades that- due to the pandemic- are now experiencing exponential growth and converging together to create significant disruptions in how they operationally look and compete in the future.
Three primary forces have been steadily accelerating across various industries over the last five decades: globalization, the change in work preferences in favor of remote setups, and rapid advances in information technology and high-speed internet.
The first is globalization. That is the ease at which one organization can do business with another regardless of geography and national boundaries. For example, an agency located in Los Angeles or New York not only has to compete with agencies located in Miami or San Francisco but now has to consider their competition’s capabilities and pricing within markets like London, Berlin, Costa Rica, Ukraine, Philippines, or India. The second is how people are working, or more specifically, the current transition from traditional 9-5 office jobs to the growing popularity of flexible remote setups where agency staff can work-from-home, utilize co-working facilities, or simply work from anywhere in the world.
The third and most profound are the rapid advances in Information Technology and the adoption of high-speed internet within emerging labor markets. Within the next 5 years, we’ll see a multitude of SaaS startups, as well as established tech giants offering video conferencing tools, project management applications, language translation plugins (all being enhanced by automation and artificial intelligence) that will empower agencies to essentially achieve more with less.
My biggest piece of advice is you need to be highly selective when it comes to sourcing and hiring.
And during this time we’ll also witness another billion- or perhaps 2 billion- people obtain access to the internet for the first time and thus, enter the global agency talent pool full of creativity, unique skills, and a competitive spirit that will be tremendously valuable for employers who are looking for top talent that will cost them significantly less.
The pandemic – in my view -has become a catalyst that is currently accelerating the speed at which these 3 forces are converging together and creating emergent disruption in many industries as well as massive economic opportunities for employers that can spot and properly leverage these benefits within their organizations.
Dasha: When it comes to hiring staff overseas there can be a lot of issues like time zones, language barriers, and quality issues, do you have any advice for agencies who are open to the idea of a globally-distributed remote staff but have concerns about its impact on their brand reputation and quality standards?
Phillip: My biggest piece of advice is you need to be highly selective when it comes to sourcing and hiring. I’ve managed countless deployments of overseas staff for our clients and the agencies that get it right are the ones who have clear expectations of what they need in terms of technical and non-technical abilities and have the tools to assess those abilities before onboarding them within their organizations.
When you combine all the top low-cost talent markets across South America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, South East Asia, and Africa you literally have a gold mine of highly-skilled professionals that speak fantastic English—and other languages if you need them—who are willing to work in your local time zone. It’s again about being clear on what you’re looking for and cherry-picking the cream of the crop that has the ability to add value to your agency without compromising on quality or efficiency.
There is very little incentive in paying a Web Developer from New York $6,000 plus benefits when they can find a comparable web developer for a fraction of the cost from the Philippines or Mexico.
Dasha: Harmonizing collaboration and syncing internal departments with overseas teams can also be a big challenge for agencies. Is this something that you feel technology is addressing?
Phillip: Yes. When I first started C9 Staff it was originally a real challenge to convince a small subset of employers on the merits of hiring remote staff. They were convinced from previous experience that for a team to be effective they all needed to work in the same office and communicate face-to-face daily.
But given the conditions of the pandemic, the trend of hiring staff that work-from-home has skyrocketed in popularity and companies had to learn how to adapt to communicating within their internal teams virtually. And what I’ve noticed many agencies now are realizing that their creative teams are all working from home. There is very little incentive in paying a Web Developer from New York who is asking for $6,000 a month plus benefits when they can find a comparable—and sometimes even more qualified—web developer for a fraction of the cost from the Philippines or Mexico.
For example, the CEO of a big full-service digital marketing agency in California, who’s a client of ours is deploying a team of 150 remote staff across their web development, UX design, SEO, content writing, media buying, and email marketing departments couldn’t stop talking about how much money he saved in payroll ($600,000 per month), as well as commercial office rent ($100,000 per month) transforming his net income and enabling him to build from scratch his dream home in Santa Monica.
Again, my key advice for synching communication is to deploy staff that works in your local time zone and utilizes the multitude of project management and time-tracking software tools out there while creating scalable processes and workflows to enable your agency to grow radically in an agile way.
We are experts at creating standardized processes and workflows that allow agencies not just to offshore critical departments but also scale those departments to the “next level”
Dasha: For those not already familiar with C9 Staff, could you tell us what your company is all about?
Phillip: At C9 Staff, we specialize in providing agencies globally distributed remote teams of marketing and advertising professionals that “live inside our agency’s world” and provide extraordinary results. I started this company because I witnessed first-hand the enormous competition facing agencies and I wanted to help these companies create “global extensions” of their teams that would enable them to expand their service offering while maximizing their net income.
We operate completely behind the scenes and provide complete end-to-end services. This includes sourcing, interviewing, conducting technical assessment tests, language tests, background checks, hiring, contracts, time-tracking, project management, replacing, firing, and scaling that enable our clients to enjoy premium remote staffing experiences in a variety of core departments vital to the success of any agency.
We also are experts at creating standardized processes and workflows allowing agencies to not only offshore critical departments to save millions of dollars but also scale those departments to help elevate their agency to the “next level” and transforming it to whatever size they can imagine.
We already have deep talent penetration in the world’s most attractive talent markets, and we’re really good about deploying for our agencies the absolute best professionals the world has to offer in their specific niche.