Globers on the Go

Last month I was having a conversation with a young Argentinian who told me about this Buenos Aires-based company called Globant. He specifically made reference to the CEO, Martín Migoya, whom he could not praise enough.

I had not heard about Migoya but the young Argentinian spoke with such passion about him and Globant that I did some research.

Migoya is one of the four Argentinian founders of Globant – an IT and Software Development Company. It started in 2003, and, just over a decade later – in July 2014 – it became the first Latin American software company to launch a public offering on the New York stock exchange.

Today, it has over 4000 professionals or ‘globers’ working for the company, which outsources to multinationals like LinkedIn, JWT, Zynga, and Google.

In an interview with Migoya that I read on, he explains what Globant does:

“We develop software products, blending engineering, design and innovation and focused on emerging technologies and trends. This means that we integrate a robust engineering background with innovation and design capabilities into a single team, so as to build solid software products that are also easy to use and appealing to users.”

I then looked at Globant’s website which states that they turn ‘good ideas into innovative, high performance commercial products that provide an outstanding online consumer experience and seamless multiplatform experience, with a short time to market at any scale’.

Migoya and his team recruit talented, innovative, driven people and what is interesting is that they use a decentralised operational approach, called the “agile pods methodology” where multidisciplinary teams work in an agile, interactive way. People don’t have to spend hours in the traffic coming to work; they can work where they are; they can work anywhere, including from home.

This is part of a global trend where large headquarters and bulging businesses are becoming outdated. Instead, companies hire contract professionals or globers who are self-motivated and entrepreneurial, and in the place of old fashioned offices and time-consuming boardroom meetings, they have decentralised hubs/studios/offices and online multidisciplinary networks.

Based on this approach, there is no place for the slacker: the more you and your team achieve, the more you succeed, effectively working as a small company within a large company, which is how Globant works. Clock-watching is a thing of a past because no one is keeping an eye on whether you are sitting at your desk or not; it is all about what you are producing.

PwC recently produced an extremely interesting report that elaborates on this approach, titled ‘The Future of Work – a Journey to 2022’, which explains that increasingly crowded urban centres will necessitate ‘anywhere working’ aided by technology.

The report talks about the ‘small is beautiful orange world of 2022’ where big business will be outflanked by a vibrant, innovative and entrepreneurial middle market. A core team embodies the philosophy and values of the company. The rest come in and out on a project-by-project basis. The contractors benefit from the flexibility, autonomy and varied challenges they are offered in return for working on a short-term contractual basis. Telepresence and virtual solutions allow for greater remote working and extended global networks.

This approach enhances rather than detracts from corporate culture because every contractor or glober is the embodiment of what the company stands for. There is no hiding behind glass doors.

Globant’s model has proved so successful at this that it attracted the interest of Endeavor, a not-for-profit global organisation that, as their proposition states, is leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world.

Endeavor has an interesting history, as discussed on its website: In 1997 its founders, Linda Rottenberg and Peter Kellner, sat down and, like many entrepreneurs before and after, sketched their vision on the back of a napkin. Peter had just returned from a Harvard Business School trip to China, where he had witnessed first-hand the boom in entrepreneurship that would transform that country. For Linda, the light bulb moment for Endeavor came in the back of a taxi cab in Buenos Aires. She struck up a conversation with the driver and was shocked to learn he had a PhD in Engineering. She asked if he hadn’t considered becoming an entrepreneur instead of driving a taxi. “An empresario?” he said dismissively, using the Spanish word for a big businessman. It suddenly occurred to her that there was no Spanish word for “entrepreneur.” The “business plan” that began on the back of a napkin has become a shared vision, cultivated and expanded by board members, staff and entrepreneurs around the globe. 

Endeavor is led on a pro bono basis by many of the top business people in the world. From Discovery to Warner Brothers, over 5000 senior business people give of their time and skills to help successful new entrepreneurs that have applied to- and been selected by Endeavor.

In South Africa the Managing Director of Endeavor is Rhodes University graduate, Catherine Townshend. She believes the best way to grow economies and create jobs is to support and develop high-growth businesses.

This is precisely what helped to boost Globant, which was selected by Endeavor in 2005. Since then, Globant’s company revenues have grown by 884% and they have expanded to other parts of Argentina, to Chile, Uruguay, Peru, Colombia, Mexico, Boston, Silicon Valley, London and India.

They are clearly doing extremely well but what further struck me about Globant is that one of its aims is to make Argentina a country of choice for global companies seeking IT services. It doesn’t only have goals for itself, it has goals for the entire country, and along with this it is providing thousands of jobs for young Argentinians. Which is why the young Argentinian is so very proud of Globant and its CEO.

What I really look forward to and what would fill me with pride is when I start hearing young South Africans speaking with the same passion as the young Argentinian about businesses and CEOs in South Africa.

This article appeared in Leadership, Edition 371, June, 2016. It is reproduced with their permission.

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