I sent my buddy Luc a video yesterday saying that I’m building a team in Uganda. We used to laugh a couple of years back when Luc was considering upping and moving his family to Kampala in Uganda.
It was amusing to think that someone living in London would uproot his family and move across the world to a developing country and settle there.
Fast forward 3 years later….and I have an office for 1 person that can house up to 4 people. We currently have 3 people in Kampala and it could soon rise to 4 – with 1 full-time and the others part-time.
So now I want to walk you through my journey of building a public relations and content team in Kampala.
On the surface of it – it’s luck in that our Head of Public Relations – Pearl Kasiyre is based in Kampala. She grew up in New York, then did some of her schoolings in Switzerland, and ultimately finished up by returning to her native country.
At the time we met – she was living in Switzerland and was toying between going to do a masters in Canada or joining Pearl Lemon full time.
In the end, she chose to join Pearl Lemon full time.
This decision was made in July – we’re now August 11th – and already we’ve made incredibly quick progress.
It’s weird to think that having an office in Kampala is something that’s now literally a part of the Pearl Lemon structure – alongside having an office in Varoda, India.
But now – I want to go to the root of the actual question –
How is it that Pearl Lemon has ended up having locations in such far-flung locations?
Well…our hiring policies are borderless and don’t look at colour, gender or otherwise as part of the recruitment process.
The only thing I’ve ever cared about is can ‘he or she do the damn job?’ – and can they do it well?
We have our placement programme that’s designed to initially find those who are capable of learning quickly and producing great work and also understanding Pearl Lemon culture.
This is what has produced Pearl, Lydia, Tenny, Akhila, Kaushal and now Lena will be joining us full time in October which is fantastic.
The SEO team came through an aggressive hiring process previous to this and have been with me since the beginning.
The emphasis has also been on – ‘can I find the same or better quality’ if I’m able to find above-market quality and pay above local market rates internationally?
In this regard – this is where the team has seen success also – because the work ethic of those coming from the African subcontinent (broadly) as well as India (broadly) – is relatively high.
This means that the work ethic you get from the team is brilliant – as is the expectation at Pearl Lemon in general anyway.
Once you find some key people – as I did in Semil and Pearl – it makes sense to focus on building a power base around those people and grow.
So in the instance of Pearl Lemon – we have a team that Semil has built and trained that work across all of our SEO clients. Pearl is at the very early stages of this as we have 3 PR clients at the moment that we’re working with until we bring more on board as we keep growing.
In this same regard, in Kristel, Macky, Anne, and Chill we’ve begun finding talent in the Philippines as well.
I’ll talk about our hiring processes for each nation in separate blog posts – but in the instance of the Ugandan team it’s been an international hire in Pearl – and then she’s now using her network to recruit locally.
And that’s ultimately what you need to truly have at times to build a local team – someone who is local and can use their network to find the key people.
In the instance of Pearl – she’s already bought in a great friend of hers in Josephine – whom I hope does really well at the company.
There are more that are following whom I’m losing track of – but I trust Pearl and can see that Pearl is on top of it.
What’s very exciting about building a team out in Kampala is that we can grow an office filled with high calibre people who can contribute at the highest levels now.
Of course, the worry is that it’s reliant upon Pearl to build this office out – but then that’s the standard model of any business that’s looking to grow in certain regions of the world.
You send a key person out or already have someone locally.
The intention was never in our minds to grow a base in Kampala….but then in many ways something like this was always the likely outcome.
When you go wherever the talent takes you…you can end up finding yourself in far-flung corners of the world.
And in this case – that ‘corner’ is now a hub. Kampala, Uganda 😛