When establishing a global business, if there is one decision which should be made carefully, it is where to set up your headquarters. It is a decision that defines your perspective on your company, the global marketplace and how others perceive you. For companies such as McKinney Rogers, I can think of no better choice than Barbados both to headquarter a firm and to coordinate global sales.
I had been determined for many years to set up in Barbados. With clients all over the world, McKinney Rogers could have logically set up its headquarters anywhere in Europe, the US or Asia. But if we had been headquartered in London, we would always have been called ‘British’, and if we had set up in New York, we’d be ‘American’. Yet headquarter in Barbados and people finally see that you’re ‘global’, that you work across business cultures and that you are not closed in by regional specialisms. When you are dealing with giant companies like Wal-Mart and Zurich, this can be a vital differentiator in itself.
But Barbados has given us so much more than that. I have never seen the point of having an office which, on closer inspection, is little more than a desk and a mailing address. We want to take full advantage of being here. For instance, the strong international community in Barbados makes it function like a microcosm of the global business world. At certain events you could easily meet important people to whom you may not have thought of introducing your firm, but who may be potential clients or referrers.
Of course, business services are about reaching decision makers all over the world. Here too we have a knife edge of advantage. With a bit of determination we can deal with contacts almost anywhere in the world within a working day (and with a good supply of coffee). By being able to speak with businesses from California to Singapore, we coordinate and strengthen the efforts of our offices around the world. In the high-pressure environments in which they operate, this is vital to seal the bond between us and our clients. This helped significantly to cement our relationship with Bacardi, growing from regional client to a multi-million-dollar global client by efforts spearheaded by the Barbados office. We are now working with them in Brazil, France and China.
While our team is developing relationships around the world, it would be a mistake to overlook the local market in the Caribbean. The makeup of the economies here is changing apace and our base makes it much more accessible for us than organizations based further afield.
But perhaps the least obvious advantage of exporting from Barbados is also the biggest – the Barbadians themselves. I have always been impressed by the Barbadian people, their understanding of international business and their keenness to make their mark on global trade. We have benefited enormously from being able to draw on their expertise and ideas since, and we are holding our global training course here later this year in order to prepare new consultants from Africa, Asia, Europe and the US. The Barbadian attitude makes it seem more natural to do this here than anywhere else.
The people also seem able to be simultaneously very international and yet very local in perspective. This is the right mentality to sell business performance services with, at home and abroad. McKinney Rogers has always been the same, and in that respect it was a Barbadian company long before we arrived here.
Damian McKinney is CEO of business performance consultancy McKinney Rogers. www.mckinneyrogers.com