Close Communication on an International Level
San Jose, California; Denver, Colorado; Washington D.C.; London, United Kingdom; Bangalore, India. While a company of only about 500 employees, Xactly spans five offices that are vastly far apart geographically, but share one vision.
I first learned of Xactly last year on an exchange in Northern California, and was immediately taken by its company culture. I was especially drawn to Xactly’s international scope – and as a citizen of both the UK and US myself – Xactly offered an opportunity to intern for a Californian company after I returned to Europe.
Since its founding in 2005, Xactly has continued to expand. I was able to visit the Xactly headquarters in downtown San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley, before coming to work at the EMEA headquarters, in the dynamic centre of the City of London. However, with international growth, there are always inevitable challenges. From the start of my internship, I was interested to observe how mid-size companies work and cooperate internationally, without the enormous workforces in every location that many larger companies have.
Sarah Pritchards, Marketing Executive at the EMEA office pointed out that there are unavoidable practical problems with a relatively small team communicating with thousands of miles between them. First and foremost: time zones. In the UK, we are 8 hours ahead of Pacific Time, meaning that as our workday draws to a close in London, it is just beginning at headquarters. While this creates some unavoidable delays in contact, I was immediately struck by the willingness of many of the employees in the US to wake up at absurd hours for just a phone-call; and similarly, the regularity of late-night meetings for UK employees.
And with these different time zones, comes different markets. The EMEA and US markets are often focused on different issues, meaning that sales and marketing in a new region must be ready to adjust accordingly. A one-size-fits-all strategy isn’t satisfactory. These challenges can be overcome with concerted effort from the overseas team to understand new markets, and from the local team to communicate. Technology is at the core of the entire industry, including Xactly’s products, but also how we operate on a daily basis, allowing for an enormous capacity to communicate.
Hanne Venables, Director of Marketing Operations based in San Jose, told me about a multitude of platforms that the marketing team uses to work across offices, and time zones. By using technology, the marketing team is able to communicate and work collaboratively on projects, during their respective working hours. This also allows for the benefits of collaborative work, alongside a knowledge of the specific, local needs.
Furthermore, different offices are also obviously different sizes, meaning that how teams communicate must be dynamic and flexible. In Denver, there are now over 70 employees, allowing for a more independent office than our office of less than 25, which needs to be in closer contact with headquarters.
For example, while I am the sole intern in EMEA, there is a substantial team of 17 in San Jose. This includes Mariangela Futia, who told me about her role as the marketing intern in San Jose. She spoke of the supportive and innovative environment that has been fostered for the interns, involving a series of events and workshops. With admiration for the friendliness of the office, Mariangela told me how CEO Chris Cabrera could be found hanging out in the kitchen with the interns, and you wouldn’t think twice.
Savannah Kohagen works in sales and is one of two interns at the fast-growing, thriving Denver office. She told me how her initial hesitance toward sales was quickly dissolved by a welcoming and helpful team. Like myself, Savannah is physically removed from the intern culture, but told me that the core Xactly culture is obvious in Denver, and has given her new sales career aspirations for when she graduates.
After speaking to people from different levels of the company across three locations, there was one recurring topic they all mentioned: the Xactly culture perseveres – and thrives – in every office, and is spectacular.
Regional Sales Manager for EMEA Noel Paton told me that, after 30 years in sales, he has never worked for a company with such a unified passion and drive. According to Noel, while salespeople work in different markets to serve local needs on either side of the Atlantic, our core culture stays consistent thanks to second-to-none communication.
Every week, the San Jose interns have lunches where C-level executives come to tell them about their career experiences. From over 5,000 miles away, I watch via video call (and eat dinner as they eat lunch) because technology allows me to participate in this valuable experience. Like these lunches, on a company level; the incredible benefits and insights of being an international company far outweigh any inevitable logistical challenges.