August 6th, 2020 marks 1 year since ActiveCampaign excitedly flung open the doors to our very first European office. In just one year, the Dublin team has grown to over 50 ActiveCampaigners, with varied national and language backgrounds. The team we’ve built, from the excellent talent pool Dublin has to offer, has enabled us to better serve our global customers in Italian, German, Portuguese, French, and Spanish — and the list is quickly growing!

Here’s what the team had to say about their first year.

There’s a lot more to come and we’re only getting started. In the spirit of our company value of “iterate everything, always,” here’s what we’ve learned in year one.

Lessons from our first year in our EMEA office

In this first year, we learned that what made us successful in Chicago didn’t always translate perfectly to Europe. We developed a new commitment to collaborating virtually and this made for a more resilient business globally. We proved that team diversity brings tremendous value to global customers. In brief, we found that what made us successful in Year 1 were deeply held in our company’s cultures and values.

1. Global offices are like mini-startups

Though you start small, you grow fast — our company value “iterate everything, always” takes on new meaning when you’ve outgrown your shared office space in Dublin within the first 6 months! With all small teams, everyone takes on multiple responsibilities and often has to step outside of their traditional job duties to make our customer the hero of their own business journey.

Take, for instance, Craig Stewart, who joined ActiveCampaign Dublin as a Customer Enablement Specialist. We quickly found that bigger and more complex customer needs meant we’d need more technical expertise on the EMEA team. Without a full-time Solutions Consultant on our Dublin squad, Craig balanced his day job with his secondary responsibility as the resident ActiveCampaign Dublin technical expert, and it wasn’t soon until he earned a promotion as our first EMEA Solutions Consultant.

Hiring a team that can flex beyond their core responsibilities is essential when growing a new office, especially when it may not possess all of the speciality functions found in the headquarters. Hiring a team who can grow as the office grows is equally critical — out of our 56-person Dublin team, we’ve promoted 5 individuals, like Craig, from within the founding team.

2. Transparency and collaboration can make or break a global organization

When starting up in Dublin last year, Courtney Graham and Matt Haywood, seasoned ActiveCampaign veterans, were sent on expat assignments to open the doors and hire the founding crew. With their days now packed full of Dublin-team business duties, their weekly 4:00 PM team meetings in Chicago now fell at 10:00 PM or later in Dublin.

But they quickly realized that in order to grow the EMEA market, they needed the support and collaboration of colleagues back in Chicago beyond simply staying in the loop. Early on, both Matt and Courtney established ‘buddy systems’ between their Dublin-based Customer Success and Sales teams and experienced colleagues back in the Chicago HQ, offering mentoring and support for team member’s first days and weeks.

Eager to grow demand in the market, our EMEA Marketing Manager, Stephen O’Rowe, found it was necessary to bring the power of the whole marketing team to bear on the EMEA business. He pushed the entire company to share critical conversations on core initiatives and offered visibility on regional insights, by leveraging Google Drive, Slack, and Confluence to encourage alignment. As a result, the Dublin team can feel just as informed as those back in HQ.

3. Everyone prefers to use their native language to communicate

ActiveCampaign is a global-native company with customers in 170 countries and regions worldwide. We localized our product into 15 languages from very early on — but once we opened our Dublin office, we learned that product localization is just one piece of the localization puzzle.

Manager of Product Support, Claudia Manzone O’Sullivan, and I recently analyzed how our international customers like to use our Product Support Team. One thing became very clear: When a customer uses ActiveCampaign software in a language other than English, they expect to receive support in that language.

Localization has proven to be a strategic priority for ActiveCampaign’s global growth. Among the first members to join the Dublin office was Laura Lorusso, who has built in-house localization services that launched Help Center content in 5 languages. In its first 3 months, ActiveCampaign’s in-house localization services translated over 400,000 words!

4. A global mindset makes us a more sustainable, resilient business in uncertain times

Perhaps most importantly, we learned how transparency and clear communication can improve collaboration across time zones. The launch of the Dublin office proved the value of building a linguistically and culturally diverse team for our global customers. As a result of the hyper growth in Dublin our first year, our Chicago-based teams adapted to working with international teams via Hangouts, Slack, and Zoom.

When the global pandemic forced us all to convert to permanent remote work, ActiveCampaigners were already somewhat prepared to communicate across time zones and locations. The average international marketing Zoom meeting includes team members from 6 different locations — and thanks to the experience launching and growing our Dublin office, we were prepared to tackle this communication challenge.

Looking ahead

At a fast-growing tech company, one year feels like an eon. This year has meant significant traction for Customer Experience Automation in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. We have brought several European customer case studies and heaps of localized content to our website. The EMEA team has swelled to 56, with many founding members elevated into positions of leadership.

Looking ahead to Year Two, we’ll focus on bringing global and international flair to our company values.

Here is what we’ll focus on as we enter our second year in Dublin:

  • Iterate everything, always: We will elevate the voices of ActiveCampaigners in Dublin to accomplish better business decisions that improve our global operations
  • Pursue international growth with gratitude: when customers tell us they need support in their native language, we will listen
  • Create wow globally: We will create with our European, Middle-Eastern, and African customers the sense of doing business with a local company who values & understands their business cultures
  • Cultivate cultural, ethnic, and linguistic inclusion & diversity: We know that more diverse teams create better experiences for our customers who speak many languages and also come from many different countries
  • Make the international customer a hero: We understand that UK customers want to see UK customer success stories. We believe that the power of Customer Experience Automation can empower marketers and small business owners all over the world.
  • Start with trust: Everywhere we grow: to be successful in EMEA, we have to earn the trust of our customers and partners in culturally relevant ways. We know success in global business is earned & we continue to earn it.