How To Run A Global Sourcing Business From South Africa | A Guest on the RecruitingDaily Podcast with William Tincup

On today’s episode of the RecruitingDaily Podcast, William Tincup speaks to Vanessa Raath about how to run a global sourcing business from South Africa.

Some Conversation Highlights:

Listening time: 22 minutes Listen here

Music: 00:00 This is RecruitingDaily’s Recruiting Live Podcast, where we look at the strategies behind the world’s best talent acquisition teams. We talk about recruiting, sourcing, and talent acquisition. Each week, we take one overcomplicated topic and break it down so that your three-year-old can understand it. Make sense? Are you ready to take your game to the next level? You’re at the right spot. You’re now entering the mind of a hustler. Here’s your host, William Tincup.

William Tincup: 00:34 Ladies and gentlemen, this is William Tincup. And you are listening to the RecruitingDaily Podcast. Today we have Vanessa on, and our topic today is: How To Run A Global Sourcing Business From South Africa.

So this is going to be a lot of fun and I can’t wait to get into it with Vanessa. So Vanessa, would you do us a favour, both introduce yourself and your company, because you have a training company that I’d love to talk a little bit about as well. So, introductions.

Vanessa Raath: 01:00 Fantastic. Good. Well, first of all, thanks for having me, William.

William Tincup: 01:04 Sure.

Vanessa Raath: 01:04 It’s a real honour. I’m a big fan of the podcast and it’s great to actually be in the guest hot seat today, which is good. So, as you said, my name’s Vanessa Raath, I’m based in South Africa. And I think the title of the podcast is great and I think it’s, more should be: How You Can Run A Sourcing Business From Anywhere In The World. I know that we’ve thrown in South Africa there because obviously, I’m coming with the South African flavour. But for me, I want to share with the world how easy it is to work globally in the sourcing space and how anyone can do it. That, for me, is the most important thing.

So my company is called The Talent Hunter. We were three years old on the 1st of April. When I say we, I mean the royal we because it’s pretty much just myself, I work as a solopreneur. And I do 50% talent sourcing training, which I love. My training goes back to being a qualified teacher. And the rest of the time, the other 50%, I actually work as a global talent sourcer myself. So I’ve kind of got my finger in a lot of pies. I do a lot of speaking, and a lot of keynoting and I love being on podcasts. So, thanks again for having me.

William Tincup: 02:15 Absolutely. And I love that you got your fingers in the dirt. Sometimes with training, you get so deep into the training that, over years, you lose sight of what’s going on. And because you’re practising at the same time you’re training, you don’t run that risk. So I love…

Vanessa Raath: 02:38 A hundred per cent.

William Tincup: 02:38 I love that model. I just love that. So let’s start off with, this can be done from anywhere. Let’s start off with, what are the barriers that we thought were there, that we think are there, and how do we overcome those barriers?

Vanessa Raath: 02:55 I think that the barriers that we thought were there, let’s face it, pre-COVID because it was COVID that helped me to get my business really global and international, was that, a recruiter was as good as their network. And I don’t think that that’s far wrong, but a network can be global. And I think that from a sourcing perspective means that people just need to work harder to find people in new territories and new geographies. It does help if you are recruiting locally in one geography all the time, you do grow a network, you do get to know people, and you get referred a lot more, but it’s actually not a necessity.

For me, if we look at the training side, is that I’m really proud to be part of a team of global sources, and that was really important. So for me, what I had to change my mindset, is that this is me, this is me in South Africa, and now I think this is me in a global sourcing world. Today, I think I’ve had phone calls between Hungary, Italy, UK, and already had a couple to the States. And this is just my average day. The only thing I didn’t do was start early this morning in Australia or New Zealand. And this for me is the beauty of it because you can do anything from anywhere as long as you know the right people from a global perspective.

William Tincup: 04:12 I think that COVID and the pandemic helped us change our minds about global talent. Globalization turns out it was a thing before the pandemic, but there was still a need, especially in recruiting and sourcing, for people to be in a room. And maybe it was a crutch in some regards, that we had to see people working and then all of a sudden that crutch got taken away from us. But just this idea, because I want to ask you about the great resignation as well and people moving and you’ve already touched on it, looking in different places for talent.

Vanessa Raath: 04:55 Yeah.

William Tincup: 04:55 So do you think that this kind of … How did this play out in your mind?

Vanessa Raath: 04:58 So for me, COVID definitely accelerated the idea that we could be sourcing globally and looking for people globally. We just needed to learn the basics of how to do this. So for me, just what I’ve seen over the last two years, is that it doesn’t matter where people are positioned. And especially the startup vibe and the tech space, those companies have realized that they can hire people anywhere in the world and that for me is just amazing. We can see a rise of third-party agencies that are now stepping up and saying, let us be your middle man. Let the people stay in their own countries. We’ll sort out taxes. We’ll make sure that everything’s above board and then people can work from anywhere in the world.

So, I think the idea of having to see people work has gone out of the window, definitely stronger in some industries as opposed to others. But I think that others are actually going to follow suit. And it’s a really exciting time for people who have real skills and people who have a lot to give because you’ve now got this amazing opportunity to work for companies anywhere. And for me, one of the nicest things is that I live in a country that’s a third-world country, doesn’t have a strong exchange rate, and I can earn foreign currency, and that is just such a beautiful position to be in. Because I get to live in the most wonderful country in the world, the most beautiful, and I get to work and meet people all over the world.

William Tincup: 06:23 I love that. So what is global talent? When you’re both in training and in practice, what’s global talent want?

Vanessa Raath: 06:33 So for me, global talents I think is definitely… I deal a lot in the tech space. So, a lot of the developers are sitting up and saying, ” Raath, we can do this. We don’t need to be going into an office today. We can go and work for any company that we want in the world. We just need to make sure that our certifications are up-to-date and our skills are sharp.” So for me, the global talents that I deal with are quite happy. Working from home. Quite happy working in a global community.

Unfortunately, again, it’s not possible for everyone, but I see a massive movement now, especially, what are we in into COVID? Two and a bit years, when companies are trying to say, “Oh, just come back to the office one day a week or twice a week.” And people are turning around and saying, “Actually, no, I refuse to do that.” And they’re not going back into the office and they’re looking for remote opportunities. I know quite a few people who have relocated, so what happens now? They don’t live where they’re used to because they haven’t had to go into the office for over two years. Now what?

William Tincup: 07:35 Yeah. Now the air’s out of the bottle, why would they …? And again, some people thrive in an office environment and some people thrive in a remote environment. So it’s finding, where do you thrive? Whether you’re a software developer or UX or UI developer, whatever the bit is, it’s where do you thrive? And I think that what’s interesting is, for me, it’s companies now looking at, you don’t have to thrive locally. And I think, as you touched on it earlier, it’s like, we would build networks in Cape Town, or we would build networks in Johannesburg. And, this is the world, the four walls of Cape Town, this is our talent universe. Because there was this perceived notion or perceived idea that we had to see them there, they had to come into the office and that’s where they would thrive. And I think companies are now wrestling and talent are also wrestling with the same thing. It’s, “Where do I thrive?”

Vanessa Raath: 08:35 Yeah, absolutely. A hundred per cent. And that’s just the beauty of it, isn’t it? It’s just made our whole industry just so much more interesting. And I think that that’s amazing.

And another big thing it’s done is that companies need to sit up and realize that it’s actually all about the candidates and where they want to work. And we’ve got to change our perceptions and the way that we treat people and they are people, they’re not just building blocks that we have in this big empire that we are trying to build.

William Tincup: 09:04 Right.

Vanessa Raath: 09:04 We’ve got to change the way we deal with people and talk to people, and a lot of companies are battling with it.

William Tincup: 09:11 So, what’s the toolkit for anyone that wants to build a sourcing business from anywhere in the world? What are the essentials that you Google?

Vanessa Raath: 09:25 Google’s always your friend as a Sourcer.

William Tincup: 09:25 Google. It turns out, turns out. Boolean, Google. But what’s the tool package? If you could give people a starter kit, what would that be?

Vanessa Raath: 09:37 So it is a very interesting question because if I look back to my story, I had attended one SourceCon in Europe, in Budapest in 2018. Then in 2019 presented the keynote at SourceCon Seattle, and that was my only two instances of international exposure, then COVID hits. So when COVID hits, I had quite a few international conferences booked, but they were obviously all cancelled. And only now, I’m off to the UK in June, Australia in July, to go and present to events that I’m getting back out there and meeting people in person. So literally for two years, my tools have been on the whole internet because it’s all about building a brand. And it’s been staying top of mind and having an opinion, stating your opinion on social platforms.

And that’s where I think a lot of people are too nervous to almost get started, but it was great that I had met a couple of people. I’d met a call group of the global sourcing community up front, but it was just about nurturing those relationships and dropping people a message and saying, “Hey, I’m stuck at home during a pandemic, South Africa’s in level five, I believe your country is the same. Should we get together for a virtual one or cup of coffee, or let’s just keep conversations going.” And that, for me, worked treats during a global pandemic and it’s something I actually continue doing now.

William Tincup: 10:58 Right. It’s interesting because what worked early in the pandemic, was we reached out to a lot of people, checking in on them and learning what they were going through, et cetera. Now everyone’s busy. We still need to do that stuff. We still need empathy. We still need those things.

Process. You mentioned time zones, in terms of, if we can set up our business anywhere in the world, you’re sourcing business from anywhere in the world. Now you are navigating time zones on some level.

Vanessa Raath: 11:33 Yeah.

William Tincup: 11:33 So what’s that process and communication layer? Because communications are super important to what we do, what’s that look like?

Vanessa Raath: 11:44 This is the one thing that I actually struggle with the most, I do not even begin trying to sugarcoat it. I can often be up delivering training at 4:30 in the morning to New Zealand and Australia. I just make sure that from a time zone perspective, I don’t book training late to North America on the same day. So I’ll try and shift it around, so I have early weeks and late weeks, depending on my training, but I think it’s really something you’ve got to be cautious of because it comes down to your work-life balance.

What I try and do is, thankfully I’m normally booked up quite a few weeks in advance of my training, so if I can see I’ve got a lot of late evenings, what I do is, block out my following morning. So I can spend my mornings going for a run or going for a walk or getting some admin done or some shopping. Time zones are a pain, but nothing you can do about them and you’ve just got to work around them. And for me, the big thing is, bless his cotton socks, I have a very understanding husband who’s actually in the kitchen making supper at the moment because it’s 17h20, and the family’s going to want to eat soon. And I’m doing this podcast with you. So all of our teamwork and partnership with your partner.

William Tincup: 12:55 Yeah, of course. It’s interesting that you said that, because I think that, that’s the root of a lot of success having just a network around people that are very supportive of you. And again, you’re supportive of them too. It’s a two-way street.

When you’re working with candidates and clients and you’re helping both sides, in some regards, navigate this. And candidates can be anywhere in the world, you can be anywhere in the world, and the client can be anywhere in the world. So okay, now we’re navigating three different things. On one level, what candidates want and what the employer wants, how do you navigate the differences? The similarities are easy. So if it’s remote forever, “Okay, fantastic. We can all agree.” Employer agrees, the candidate agrees, done. But it’s the stuff that’s further apart. Maybe it’s comp. Maybe it’s something as simple as comp and it’s further apart. How do you negotiate that globally?

Vanessa Raath: 14:08 William, to be honest with you, the same way I’d negotiate anything if it was locally. Be honest, open communication land, everyone puts their cards on the table up-front. So we know what we are dealing with from the outset. And I don’t think it’s any different from when you take it globally. When you do this a lot, you can anticipate what are the barriers going to be from a global perspective as you can, when you’re working locally and just almost preempt them, have the discussions up front and just make sure that everyone’s on the same page, I think is the best way to do it.

William Tincup: 14:40 So you mentioned currency and it’s something that’s really interesting to me on all three levels. So, from a sourcing business perspective, the candidate’s perspective and the employer’s perspective. Again, I have friends in Nigeria, right? So if we could pay them in dollars, what do you see from candidates? What do you see from companies? Especially, I’m thinking about, internally thinking about pay equities. So yeah. I don’t want to drive more pay and equities, I have no interest in that or having my hands bloody with that.

If they’re in Lima, Peru, and the exchange rate, if you’re paying them in dollars, is significantly different than paying them in, I think it’s Peso. I can’t remember what Peru’s currency’s called. But if you’re paying them locally, what do you find it interesting and more compelling for all three parties? For you, what do you want to be paid? For the candidates, what are you seeing that they want to be paid in? And from employers, what do they want to be paid in with a backdrop of, how do we not get ourselves into more pay and equities and disparities?

Vanessa Raath: 16:06 It’s a very interesting question. And for me, I’m going to answer from my perspective, and that is, as far as I know, you pay tax in the country where you live. I can’t be sitting in South Africa and have a US bank account and be paid in the US, because then where am I paying taxes? I need to pay taxes in the country where I live. So for me, whatever you pay someone, gets converted into the local currency anyway, at the end of the day. So I train clients in the US, the UK, Australia, Germany, whatever it might be by the time that money hits my bank account, the currency conversion has happened and I’m getting paid in Rand. So it doesn’t really matter as long as I’m being paid.

But what it does allow me to do, and there are two sides to this, and this is where COVID really helped my business is that I think a lot of people didn’t mind where their trainer was based anymore. So everyone was learning online, it didn’t matter. I’ve trained teams with people in Argentina, US, Spain, Portugal and Korea, all within one group. So it doesn’t matter where your trainer is. The big thing that we need to get around here is, what is the trainer going to charge or from the candidate’s perspective, how much does the candidate want?

And for me, I think that that’s the big thing because I know that I can provide a phenomenal sourcing training session and I can still come in under the market rate of other global sourcing trainers. Because when you convert it to Rand, it converts to a lot more. And I think that that’s what candidates realize, is they know what they can earn locally, they know what the global markets are paying and they’re pretty much looking for something in between that.

William Tincup: 17:52 I love it. Advice you’d give your younger self. So when you first started …

Vanessa Raath: 17:57 I could have sooner.

William Tincup: 18:01 Right. We’ve got at least two hours. What would you go back to? Magic wand? What would you go back and tell yourself, “Okay, make sure you do this. Lay down this. Work with a lawyer to get this. Work with an account…” Whatever the bid is. What advice would you give yourself?

Vanessa Raath: 18:21 You know what, I think that everything happens for reason in your life, and I don’t think that you can go back and change time. I love what I do. I mean, this is my third occupation. I’ve been a scuba diving instructor. I’ve led tours through Masai Mara in Kenya. I have been a school teacher in London. I’ve pretty much done a lot in my short life. I’m only 21, so it’s quite impressive.

But William, to be honest with you, I just think that the advice that I’ve followed is, just be yourself, be good to people, be a good person and remember that life is all about karma. And I think that at the right time, you’ve got to be well positioned to take that leap of faith that you often need to in your career. So make sure that you have your money in your bank, and you’ve got support from your family. And if you know you can make it happen, stop hanging back, just do it.

William Tincup: 19:18 I love it. The last question is, for those that listen to the podcast and get inspired, where should they start? What are some of the building blocks of, “Okay, if you’re really inspired…” Which is one of the hopes, is that people listen to this and go, “Yeah. You know what? I can do that. If you can do it, I can do that.” What are some of the things that you would say, “Okay, make sure that you lay down … Make sure you do these things.”

Vanessa Raath: 19:44 For me, it goes back to building your brand and giving away as much as you can for free. And I still do that. Free advice. We met William presenting at HRTX, and get involved in those events. Present and try and get that thought leader, trusted advisor, and status. Because once you have that, you can give back for free. And I just think that that really does help to grow your brand, it makes you feel good, and also, people will start learning who you are, I think that that’s the most important part about it. I mean here you’ve, HRTX I think it was 18 months, two years ago, invited an unknown from South Africa to be one of their presenters and no one had ever met me in person and I just think that’s absolutely phenomenal. And if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. You’ve just got to put your hand up and say, “This is what I can offer. Are you interested?”

William Tincup: 20:39 It’s interesting, and I appreciate that. Because there are so many great groups. SOSU does a wonderful job. SourceCon and ERE do a wonderful job. There’s great content and great opportunities for people, everywhere around the world.

Vanessa Raath: 20:56 Yeah. Absolutely.

William Tincup: 20:58 Especially a couple …

Vanessa Raath: 20:58 I’m part of the MC team for SOSU. I think I’ve presented at every SourceCon digital online. I’m hoping for an in-person event this year, coming up.

William Tincup: 21:08 Oh, that’d be nice.

Vanessa Raath: 21:09 And I just think that, don’t try and divide and conquer, just don’t get involved in politics, work with everyone, present for everyone and just meet people and get out there.

William Tincup: 21:21 I love it. There’s part of that, that’s vulnerable. I mean, you’re making yourself a little bit vulnerable.

Vanessa Raath: 21:25 Yeah true.

William Tincup: 21:25 Because I think that’s what holds some folks back from putting their opinions out there, is they feel like, “Well, I’m going to be criticized.” It’s like, “Well, yeah, and that’s okay.”

Vanessa Raath: 21:34 And you sometimes are.

William Tincup: 21:40 I actually think that’s a good thing, that you open yourself up for criticism. It’s like, “Well, you can learn something. You might not be right.”

Vanessa Raath: 21:48 Yeah. Yeah. No, absolutely.

William Tincup: 21:52 Because oftentimes you aren’t right, so it’s actually a good thing. Well, Vanessa, thank you so much for carving out time for us and the RecruitingDaily Podcast.

Vanessa Raath: 22:02 Absolutely pleasure. Thank you so much.

William Tincup: 22:04 Alrighty. Until next time, thanks, everyone.

Vanessa Raath: 22:06 Excellent.

Music: 22:09 You’ve been listening to the recruiting live podcast by RecruitingDaily. Check out the latest industry podcast, webinars, articles and news at recruiting…

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