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International adjustments: David Gallant at HubSpot Ireland

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 15, 2013 11:00 AM

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[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

A while back you may have heard that Boston inbound marketing powerhouse HubSpot was expanding to Ireland. As someone who teaches organizational communication and consults in the field, I am always fascinated to hear how people make adjustments in communicating with the home office [video here] and their new international colleagues. I asked my friend and worldwide IT extraordinaire David Gallant how things have been going since he relocated to Dublin, and here's what he answered.

What do you do to stay connected with your co-workers back in Boston? Have you put in any new systems or regular meetings to make sure that everyone stays on the same page?
Back in Boston, we abide by the rules of Agile development and have a daily Stand-up meeting. We one by one share what we did yesterday, what we are doing today, and what our blockers are. This allows me to share with my team and managers about items that I needed to get my job done, and share with anyone who I need something from that I am waiting on them. Since I have been here in Dublin, I call in for these in using a conference phone every day.

Back home, we are a very telephone-centric company, memorizing conference bridge phone numbers and sticking to those. We are now slowly evolving into using video for one to one conversations. I am actually building out a few conference rooms with telepresence gear for multiple callers on each end, which will be helpful for groups to talk to each other overseas.

Lots of people keep an eye on my website. I have found that posting more in-depth items like multi-paragraph text and photo galleries are much more appreciated than the short bursts of standard social media. I also have been using Twitter less, and Facebook with photo and location check-in data more than I did in Boston. For my coworkers, I posted on our internal message board with a great write up and extensive photo gallery.

What things have you been doing to help bond your team of new coworkers in Ireland?
Complete buy-in from the company was the only way to get training, management, the CEO, and all participating members to make this culture flow so well. We actually brought our 12 Irish employees to Boston for 3 weeks of training. The first week was nearly all culture. Historical presentations, details of decisions and investments, a walk through our 'lore and mythology,' list of memes and jokes, and a crash course on our company mantra were all organized beforehand. We had frequent group dinners to allow everyone to be comfortable outside of the office.

We also organized a treasure hunt with clues around Boston with Irish and Americans paired up as the single biggest culture building machine. We spent 6 hours running around Boston and the winners got dinner at the CEO's house.

Also, sitting in an open format room, we are all quickly getting to know each other on a personal level, which is something that we could not do in a large office. We also continue to have events and parties in response to team goals like we did in the Boston headquarters, like a monthly sales goal party for example.

What ways of communicating with your Irish colleagues are noticeably different from how you would do things here?
We have always had a culture of recognizing employee greatness--stateside, that includes everything from Champagners (bottles of champagne) to recognize exceptional achievement, to dinners with company executives for stand-out stars in various departments. In Ireland, our colleagues prefer to be recognized in a quieter way. For example, instead of a company-wide email, they would prefer a pat on the back from their immediate team members. So balancing our company culture of recognizing great achievement with cultural differences in how people prefer to be recognized will be an ongoing learning experience for us.

Communications timing is also interesting. We have had clients internationally for quite some time now, but now that the international customer and selling base is growing, we need to have people available during prime business hours for our European prospects and clients. As a result, figuring out how the cadence of our Boston-based team and Dublin-based team intersect and how we insure that both internal and external communications are seamless has been something we continue to refine and learn from as we leverage tools like GoToMeeting, Skype, etc. to try to bridge the gap.

Overall, what has been the biggest adjustment for you so far? Have there been things that have gone much more smoothly than you expected?
The most intense adjustment is communicating with my coworkers in Boston who are on a different schedule. Even though I have a travel clock on my Mac, I still forget that we are on different time zones.

Contacting people for work phones is easy with the internal phone system, but managing mobile phones has been quite complicated. We take for granted being able to use a mobile phone anywhere in the USA. International phone rates with American providers are quite expensive, so I am using a local Irish number. While Skype is a help, the mobile apps like this are not quite stable.

Chad O’Connor is a communication consultant, Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at Northeastern University, and primary editor of this blog. Follow him on Twitter @chadoconnor.


[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
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