Duri leads the technology team to deliver innovative products and experiences that make life better for people. He has developed and directed high-performance engineering organizations in AdTech, MedTech, Banking and Finance on three different continents. Duri holds degrees from Boston College and NYU Stern and is currently earning his Masters degree in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins.Follow Follow
Welcome to the Use Case Podcast, episode 243. Today we’ll be talking to Duri from Safeguard Global about the use case or business case for why his customers choose Safeguard Global.
Safeguard Global equips organizations with the technology, local expertise and service to adapt to an ever-shifting global market.
Give the show a listen and please let me know what you think. Thanks, William
Show length: 23 minutes
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Announcer: 00:02 Welcome to Recruiting Daily’s Use Case Podcast, a show dedicated to the storytelling that happens or should happen when practitioners purchase technology. Each episode is designed to inspire new ways and ideas to make your business better as we speak with the brightest minds in recruitment and HR tech. That’s what we do.
Here’s your host, William Tincup.
William Tincup: 00:25 Ladies, gentlemen, this is William Tincup, and you are listening to the Use Case Podcast.
Today we have Duri on from Safeguard Global, and we’ll be talking about the business case or the use case that prospects and customers use to pick Safeguard.
Without any further ado, Duri, would you do us a favor and introduce yourself and Safeguard Global?
Duri Chitayat: 00:46 Sure thing. Thanks, William.
William Tincup: 00:47 Sure.
Duri Chitayat: 00:50 My name is Duri Chitayat. I’m CTO of Safeguard Global. I joined the company about a little bit over a year ago.
I think what attracted me to Safeguard is the same thing that attracts a lot of folks to Safeguard is the idea that you can build your team anywhere in the world and that was something that really attracted me. I’ve had a lot of experience building teams around the world in other sorts of roles.
This particular way of going about it that Safeguard has it really frees up so much, reduces so much friction, gives you a lot more insight into capabilities. So I was excited to help build out the technology platform that makes that really robust for customers.
William Tincup: 01:40 It’s super interesting to me because you would’ve been one of the recipients prior to this. You would’ve been somebody that has a tech team, 20 different countries like, “Okay, this is fantastic and these are all great folks. How am I going to pay them? I’ve got a wonderful front end developer in Bosnia. Great. You found them. How do I get money into their hands or services? How do I get them benefits, et cetera?” So you would’ve been a beneficiary of Safeguard and now you’re helping to kind of build the platform and extend the platform and do all kinds of stuff so this is going to be a fascinating conversation.
Take us into if we can do kind of not features and attributes, but just take us into what the problem that Safeguard solves from a technology perspective and how you solve it.
Duri Chitayat: 02:41 The biggest challenge that HR professionals face is one that I think people don’t talk about it’s friction. They need to go through analyze and they need to understand the talent landscape.
They need to understand their own landscape. They then need to recruit. They need to select the people, find the people, bring them onboard.
Then they need to hire them. There’s a whole process of legal and compliance that you need to go through, background verification, all that kind of good stuff.
Then you need to manage them. Again, in every country, it’s a little bit different so there’s a lot you have to understand about how to pay people, how to manage them compliantly and the rest of that, and you need to be able to pay them at the end of the day so analyze, recruit, hire, manage and pay.
What our industry has done very well is solve those problems, but in silos, right?
William Tincup: 03:33 Right.
Duri Chitayat: 03:33 So the HR professional has to connect that all together themselves and that introduces a heck of a lot of friction.
What Safeguard Global really tries to do is eliminate all that friction, make it seamless within one technology stack. Or rather what I should say is our technology stack allows your technology stacks, your systems to integrate and be able to analyze, recruit, hire, manage and pay anywhere in the world. So it reduces a lot of the friction and enables you to kind of access global talent in a way that you’ve never been able to do before.
William Tincup: 04:14 You also, I mean, in doing so, you work with a lot of systems of record, the Workdays, the SAPs, the Oracles, and some of the larger payroll providers that do global payroll and global services and other types of global things. You can integrate with some of those folks and you’re partner with some of those folks, I’m assuming.
Duri Chitayat: 04:34 That’s right. Well, the way we look at it, we want our customers to come in with what they have and for us to be able to adapt and customize to what they need to be able to do within our system.
This is what we call Work in Any Way. You come in with your HRS system, or your VMS system, or your time tracking system. Then we help knit those things together with our local market expertise and allow you to create the work model that works best for you.
That could also change over time and we could talk a little bit about that, but I think we also recognize the fact that the world is changing, your businesses are changing and you need to be able to attract and hire talent in unique ways, regardless of the economic or global talent situation. So that’s what Safeguard tries to do is give you that flexibility.
William Tincup: 05:41 I love that. It’s refreshing, actually, to hear. Because so often I run into situations where there’s closed systems and kind of a closed mentality so I love that y’all play well in the sandbox with a lot of different folks.
I’ve studied global payroll for years, and I’ve tried to explain it to people that don’t study it is it’s as if there’s about 10 different business models. Without using brand names and all that other stuff, it’s like imagine that there’s not… If you have employees in, again, Singapore, we’ll just use something simple, you have employees in Singapore, there’s about 10 different ways to get them paid and be HR-compliant. It might be even more than 10 at this point, I might be making it too simple. How do y’all look at that that’s different than what you see in the marketplace? How do you look at kind of just structurally either the platform or just your mentality around paying people in compliance, how it’s different than what you see in the marketplace?
Duri Chitayat: 06:53 Yeah. I think what you said there, that there’s many different ways in which talent needs to be managed or paid within a local environment is that’s a lot of where that friction is.
For instance, we could use words like gig or contingent or direct employees, and that will mean different things in different countries. In fact, some countries will design their local legislation in such a way where it becomes almost impossible to generalize. You have to be very specific.
So the way that we’ve designed our technology is to abstract data from business logic, so that’s one very important principle.
William Tincup: 07:43 Oh, cool.
Duri Chitayat: 07:43 That’s what allows us also to be able to play well with many different HRS, VMS systems, so that you could basically shuttle data back and forth between these different systems, have those systems perform the operations that they’re best at performing, whether it’s performance management or benefits or payments, but then conceive of a harmonized ecosystem of data so that everybody basically has a copy, the most relevant copy, of that data and that provides basically the value that customers want. At the end of the day, they don’t want to deal with the complexity of local legislations so they can pass that over to us.
But over time, they may have hundreds of workers in a particular country, in which case they may say, “You know what, Safeguard doesn’t need to manage that anymore. I’m happy to bring that in-house.” Then we could just manage the payroll aspect of it. So it allows us to also evolve with the customer and by having the separation of data from the business logic, it gives that flexibility to that customer and to us as well.
William Tincup: 09:00 Which, for everyone listening, which is completely different than what you would see in a different provider and that was kind of the point is y’all do this differently, fundamentally different.
You mentioned change. Obviously, COVID have ushered in a whole lot of discussions around remote work, work from anywhere, et cetera so it kind of sped some of this stuff up that y’all have been working on for a long time.
But take us into the kind of what you’re seeing in terms of change, like what users need now that maybe two years ago they didn’t need. Or maybe it was on the roadmap, there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure to build certain things or certain features, but now you’re like, okay, we need to ramp these certain things up.
Duri Chitayat: 09:55 The things we’ve seen ramp up is customers employing multiple work models. So, whereas in some cases we used to see clients that only wanted global payroll, meaning that they would have their own legal entities in those countries, but then we would run the payroll for them. Or then a different client might only have global employment outsourcing, meaning that we would own the local entities, but for all countries.
Now what we’re seeing is hybrids. So they will have some global payroll, some global employment. They’ll have us onboard just to do legislative work and administrative work as well. So we’ve started to see folks adapt a little bit.
William Tincup: 10:52 Oh, that’s interesting.
Duri Chitayat: 10:53 Yeah. In addition to that, they’ve also started to explore a lot more gig working. I’ve seen more employers try to find talent wherever they can.
I think that just speaks to the fact that the talent market is really tight. People have trouble finding exactly what they need, especially if they’re only looking near their headquarters, so going global has become kind of a priority for most companies.
William Tincup: 11:25 I love that. I don’t want to assume this, but that’s country by country, right? Or does it get more nuanced into like regions and things like that?
Duri Chitayat: 11:35 Yeah, it would be country by country in terms of their particular strategy, usually. Because once you have a particular strategy in a country, you tend to have to back that from a legal and compliance sense.
William Tincup: 11:51 Right. Right, right, right. You don’t necessarily bifurcate. If you were dealing with Nigeria, you wouldn’t bifurcate different areas of Nigeria. You’d have the company compliance for Nigeria and then go from there. Okay. I got that.
With the platform itself, as it is right now, because I know you’ve going to have your heads down. You’re going to do all kinds of fun stuff in the future, which we don’t need to get into. But what’s your favorite part, when you dug into this, what was your favorite part of the platform? What’s your favorite part of the technology as it is right now? It’s like asking you who’s your favorite kid?
Duri Chitayat: 12:34 I think the way that we make it easy for clients to customize is a key differentiator for us.
One of our mottoes around here, if you will, is yes, how? So whenever a customer comes to us with a particular ask, our response is usually “Yes, here’s how we would do it.” We kind of have a motto of trying to figure out the ways to make it easy for customers.
I think that the reason why that is the case is because in HR, we don’t have lots of standards, globally at least. So if you’re dealing with global workforce, by nature, you’re dealing with variation and so you have to build in customizability, you have to design for change. You have to expect that a law that’s on the books today might change tomorrow. So you have to make sure that your system is able to be configured and updated quickly and easily, and to be able to audit all the change that happens in the system as well. I think that’s probably the quality of the system I like best.
William Tincup: 13:50 I love that. Now the countries that we’re operating in, what are they right now? I mean the number.
Duri Chitayat: 13:58 We have our own offices, our own legal entities in over 70 countries and we operate in over 150.
William Tincup: 14:09 Wow. That’s fantastic. Just doing payroll in 150 countries, explaining that to folks that they’re understanding the payroll libraries, and what goes on and such changes in seconds, when you’re doing with something is like 150 countries. It’s complex enough to just do American payroll, but to then add onto that 149 other countries, I can’t even imagine.
Do you see industries where there’s just more growth in those industries right now in terms of y’all’s model?
Duri Chitayat: 14:46 Well, for a long time, it’s been the Gazelles so I wouldn’t necessarily say an industry, but it’s fast-growth companies that tend to have ROI attached to people. So basically the limiting factor for them to be able to achieve the kind of growth that they need to achieve is can I get the people? So those are the folks that are going to be stepping out of the standard muscle memory of whatever their current channel is and exploring things like global employment options.
William Tincup: 15:27 If someone’s never done global employment before, just being HR practitioner, and they’ve just never been down this road and their company is now exploring it, what are some of the things that they should be asking companies like Safeguard, what questions that they should ask? Or even just thinking about data, like you’re about to enter a brave new world, what should they be thinking about?
Duri Chitayat: 15:55 Recently I stepped back trying to assess my own learnings from the last year of being at Safeguard and it came down to three pillars.
I’d say the number one would be people and culture. If you’re going to have a global workforce, then you need to have the leadership in place that understands and respects differences and builds teams with those in mind so that’s a really key pillar.
The second thing is really about architecture so the design of your technology systems will limit how fast you can scale and grow. That’s one thing that Safeguard helps to solve, but there’s other ways of doing it as well.
Then there’s designing the right problem. HR is such a wide variety of different things that someone could do. As I said before, you can analyze, recruit, hire, manage and pay. You’ve got all these different things that a team could work on.
Figure out what is the right problem for you to solve at that moment, whether it’s getting the right emerging technology skill into your organization, or if it’s about scaling quickly, trying to figure out exactly what that right problem is. Then focus all of your energy on that, and then try to push out a lot of the friction areas. Get rid of those so that you could really focus on where your core problem is.
I’d say those are the three things that I focus on the most.
William Tincup: 17:40 I love all three of those. It’s not like we’d use these as knockout questions in sales, but to some degree, all three of are going to be important for the success of Safeguard with a particular client over the long term. I mean, you could be successful with anybody for six months, but over the long term, all three of these pillars have to be kind of in aligned.
Duri Chitayat: 18:05 Yes, absolutely. I think, and especially for fast-growth organizations, it’s not easy. Going global, while necessary, it does require thought, discipline, good leadership, all those sorts of things that you would expect from a high-growth company.
William Tincup: 18:30 I wonder if you see and/or if there’s a place for just someone that’s a global officer or someone that’s basically that’s their task is global expansion. And in the sense of like, traditionally, when we just think of payroll and y’all are much more larger than just payroll, but when we think of payroll and even global payroll, it gets kind of siloed off into payroll.
I’m not sure they have the mindset with those three pillars. I’m not sure they have the mindset to understand kind of those three pillars. So it almost takes like a different executive or a different group of people to think of this and to be able to think about, or truly becoming a global business. Do I have that right? Or am I off?
Duri Chitayat: 19:21 Absolutely. I mean, it’s broader than just paying people, the whole end-to-end cycle. That involves the hiring managers, involves the leadership that comes up with some strategies and really gets behind it and supports it, the HR experts and how they source and support talent around the world.
How you perform your onboarding is really critical as well to help set people. If you’re all remote and you’re coming from different cultures, that first experience in your company is going to be very critical to the success of that person. So your whole system, you need to reevaluate it and it takes really the whole company getting onboard that. It can’t be just one function.
William Tincup: 20:10 Oh, I 100% agree. That’s well said.
How do y’all deal with language in terms of the system itself and workers because we’re helping people, again, with people and culture if we’re dealing with, again, pick any of the countries you like, Vietnam, done. Now, some folks are going to be more Vietnamese, their language is going to be Vietnamese first, English second, how do y’all interact with that? How do you help your customers interact with that is probably a better way of phrasing that.
Duri Chitayat: 20:46 When started out, we were localized to a few different regions. What we realized is that as you, as you kind of say in your question, really having the local expertise, having someone that could speak to you in the local language that understands the complexities of like of a Spanish employment contract or a Brazilian employment contract won’t necessarily be the same person.
So putting people on the ground has been a strategy for the last five years. That’s one of the reasons why we have more local presence than I think any of our competitors.
William Tincup: 21:26 I think that’s genius on all levels, just genius.
Last thing, Duri, and just in your year of being there and being witness to some of the growth, what’s your favorite customer story without brand names and stuff like that, just the way that they’ve used Safeguard and you’re like, “Okay yeah, this is fantastic.”
Duri Chitayat: 21:50 We have one customer I could think of that has really run the gamut of all our different services, so all of the analyze, recruit, hire, manage and pay. They’ve been a partner with us, came onboard to basically have one worker in a country and then slowly thereafter, they started to expand and have more workers.
Then they started to trust us and said, “Hey, how could we transform our workforce? How could we think about being more of a global company?” Then we started to expand into thinking about ASO, so that’s helping them bring on their own entities in a country where they have more workers and also global payroll.
Once they had that entity set up, we just do the payroll for them and helping them basically have a very efficient process and scale with us and solve everything from their analytics problems, understanding gender pay gap within their payroll, understanding just basic demographic information, gave them insight into their workforce that they couldn’t get anywhere else. I think that that’s just a great story of us kind of leveraging all the tools in our toolkit for our customer.
William Tincup: 23:06 What I love about that is you start with something and you build trust. So you start with something and you do it well. Okay and then you started building trust.
What I love about this is y’all are agile enough and adaptive enough to then, as they grow and need different things, you can morph with them and change with them, which I think is the best way of doing business. So thank you so much, Duri. Thank you for your time and your wisdom.
Duri Chitayat: 23:34 Appreciate it. Nice to talk to you. Thank you so much.
William Tincup: 23:36 Absolutely. Thanks for everyone listening to the Use Case Podcast. Until next time.
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William is the President & Editor-at-Large of RecruitingDaily. At the intersection of HR and technology, he’s a writer, speaker, advisor, consultant, investor, storyteller & teacher. He's been writing about HR and Recruiting related issues for longer than he cares to disclose. William serves on the Board of Advisors / Board of Directors for 20+ HR technology startups. William is a graduate of the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a BA in Art History. He also earned an MA in American Indian Studies from the University of Arizona and an MBA from Case Western Reserve University.