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5 Tips for Hiring Your First Country Manager

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What Does a Country Manager Do?

Country Managers are responsible for overseeing a company’s operations in a particular country or region.  A new Country Manager will be in charge of developing the market for your product or services in that specific country or region. If operating in a new market, he/she will often work remotely, and will be the ‘face’ of your company as they build your brand internationally.

Other common profiles used to launch businesses in new markets include Sales Managers, Brand Ambassadors, and Business Developers. Each of these roles is uniquely specialized. By following the 5 tips below, you can ensure that you are sourcing the correct profile, identifying productive outcomes, and laying the right foundations to ensure you hire a candidate who is well suited to your business needs.

1. Market Research and Planning

Before you recruit, you should carry out detailed market research in order to thoroughly assess what your company needs from your new Country Manager. When planning the role, you should be very clear about what you need this person to do and design some outcomes which can be used to assess performance. It is crucial that these outcomes are specific, realistic and achievable. You should also ensure you have a plan in place for the Country Manager’s onboarding. Giving them the right information and support from the very beginning will mean that there is no lost time as they bring themselves up to speed, allowing them to begin expanding and building your brand’s presence overseas straight away.

You should also carry out detailed research into the new country you will be operating in. Every country has its own distinctive ways of doing business, with unique regional and cultural idiosyncrasies. For example, the way business is conducted in America is quite different to Japan, and an American style approach and introduction in Japan could risk being received as rude and abrasive if no consideration is given to cultural differences.

You should also be aware of local hiring practices and the employment laws of your target country. Using a local partner like INS Global takes some of the pressure off you, and ensures that you have a complete picture of what is required, and on what terms you can hire your new Country Manager.

If you already have an established network in your target country you should utilize this, both to learn more about the country and to see whether your network can recommend anyone who would be a suitable candidate.

2. Defining the Right Profile

When defining your Country Manager’s job description, you need to think about the skills and qualities needed to fulfil the outcomes you have identified as part of your research and planning. You should aim to hire someone who is independent and self-motivated. Due to the nature of their role, your new Country Manager may be working on their own for substantial periods of time, and should be comfortable managing their time accordingly. This also means that personal organization and a ‘self-starter’ attitude are vital. Ideally, you will be looking for someone who is passionate and eager to take on a challenge, and who is happy to go the extra mile in pursuit of your shared goals.  

You need to consider how much experience in the region and industry the candidate should have. Depending on your business, it may be vital that they are already familiar with your product / services, or it may be more important that they have extensive experience doing business in your target country.

In order to find someone who fits the above criteria, you will need to propose an attractive salary and benefits package. To do this, you must research the market to understand what the norm is for this type of role, and what remuneration package would be suitably motivational. INS Global can assist with these types of benchmarking exercises, giving you the right information so you can avoid the guesswork.

3. Get Local Help

Finding a local partner or recruitment agency to accompany you throughout the project can streamline the process and ensure you have considered every angle of the role. From early definition of what you need, to formulating terms of employment and a suitable remuneration package, and through to signing the agreement, a local partner like INS Global can support you at every step.

4. Preparation Time is Never Wasted Time

When it comes to the interview, it is important to have a face-to-face meeting if possible, and you should customize questions you’d like to ask the candidates. It may be important to you that your Country Manager has previous sales experience, or that they have certain operational or financial skills. You need to find out what existing network your candidate has, and how they will utilize this network when they are working for you. Looking beyond technical capabilities, you should ensure that the candidate is compatible with your company’s culture.

5. Patience is a Virtue

It is natural to want to move quickly when hiring your new Country Manager. You will no doubt operate in a competitive market, and want to see results quickly. However, hiring the wrong person for the job will cost your company a lot more than if you dedicated time to finding the right person from the start. The wrong person could set you back up to 12 months by the time you have realized they are not a good fit and found a suitable replacement, with untold potential damage to your brand and business relationships.

You should therefore take your time when laying the foundations, as this will ensure you have identified exactly what skills and attributes your candidate should possess.

In addition, you should not take your eye off the ball once your new Country Manager has been hired. Aim to optimise the probation period to allow you to assess on an ongoing basis whether the candidate is the perfect fit for the job.

INS Global

In conclusion, the success or failure of your brand in entire country or region could rest on who you hire. Make sure you are confident that you have done the right research and hired the right individual by working with an experienced partner. INS Global specialises in HR and market-entry solutions, so we can not only help with your recruitment needs but also the administrative burden of expanding abroad. We have a hands-on approach to sourcing talent, take the time understand your needs and expectations.

At INS Global we follow the life cycle of a project, from early definition to after probation to ensure you get the right candidate. Our recruitment consultants have expertise in many different sectors and have hired top talent across the Asia-Pacific region. Choose us as your local partner in your global expansion today.

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