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How Hiring a Local Leader Boosts Your Business Expansion

Discover how local leadership drives business expansion. Explore insights from Waterloo companies that have leveraged community expertise for growth.

Imagine lacing up to run a marathon in an unfamiliar city. You’re confronted with a new route, unpredictable terrain and unreliable weather.

Now picture having a local running expert at your side. Someone who knows every twist and turn of the course and can prepare you for setbacks and surprises.

Local expertise is instrumental in powering your international expansion forward. Whether you’re at the starting line, planning to take your business international or your expansion is already underway, having a local expert as your running partner is like having an insider’s map to success.

Here are the three big ways hiring a local leader can boost your international expansion:

1. Local context

Local leaders have a deep understanding of the community, including post-secondary institutions, research centres, support organizations, real estate, quality of life and more. They bring valuable insights, connections and knowledge that can be instrumental in navigating the unknown.

When expanding in Waterloo, companies like Google and Toyota leveraged their local leaders’ deep understanding of the community to establish strong ties with post-secondary institutions. These connections ensured a consistent stream of high-quality talent, fundamental for their growth.

As Google’s Head of Engineering, Steve Woods collaborated closely with the math, computer science and engineering departments at the University of Waterloo – his alma mater – while Toyota’s leaders maintained strong ties with the University of Waterloo and Conestoga College.

" Toyota has been blessed with good leadership that is very closely connected to the community. They are very closely connected to the university and Conestoga College and are major contributors to social and economic life. "

Tony LaMantia

President & CEO of Waterloo EDC

2. Shortened learning curve

Hiring a local leader can significantly accelerate entry into a new market. They come equipped with a pre-established network, market knowledge and an understanding of competitors which reduces the time required to adapt and start making an impact.

For instance, Bosch decided to hire a local leader to quickly establish its ESCRYPT office in Waterloo. With David MacFarlane at the helm, ESCRYPT was able to accelerate its entry into the market, by efficiently securing office space, establishing a legal entity and recruiting local software developers and engineers to its team.

“My local network was invaluable for finding office space, establishing our legal entity and hiring the first few people.” – David MacFarlane, former General Manager for ESCRYPT Waterloo (now ETAS, a Bosch subsidiary)

3. Community Integration

Local leaders can facilitate community integration, which is vital for building trust and credibility with potential partners, clients and talent. Establishing a physical presence through local offices and community involvement signals commitment to the community and can lead to valuable relationships.

EPAM Systems, a leading digital transformation services and product engineering company that recently expanded to Waterloo, supports community integration through contributions to local initiatives and the intellectual community.

According to Mark Samson, VP of Delivery Management, the company wanted to do more than “just take from” the Waterloo business ecosystem. They wanted to be a part of it.

In addition to supporting Earth Day initiatives and women in tech programs, EPAM Systems designated its local office as a learning hub for adults and children in the community who want to learn about technology.

“Great companies make a community impact and EPAM is no different. In addition to supporting initiatives tied to Earth Day and Terry Fox Runs, they’re committed to moving the needle on primary-level technology education and women in tech.” – Tony LaMantia, President & CEO of Waterloo EDC

Equipped with the right local leaders and their expert guidance, your business can cross every mile marker with the confidence needed to achieve global success.

Let’s lace up and get to work.

Read our new Local Leader Expansion Leadership Guide to learn more about the benefits of hiring a local leader to guide you through your international business expansion.