We Are Acvian is a series of conversations with the company’s key players sharing personal insights on top-quality Employer of Record (EOR) service and its many aspects. In each interview, we introduce you to one of our leading professionals and ask them questions about the intricacies of daily work in EOR and their role in building boundless international teams for client businesses. In this way, you get to know the people behind the service and acquire a transparent and many-sided picture of how Acvian functions.
Though EOR providers (also known as umbrella companies) are still a relatively new approach to international HR and team management, there are a multitude of offers on the market. When choosing a potential EOR partner, decision-makers may find it challenging to distinguish between a basic, but skillfully marketed self-service approach and a more curated, A to Z solution attuned to the specific needs of their business. This is why transparency is Acvian’s priority: we work with people and for people and believe that every client has the right to clearly understand the benefits before papers are signed.
Prior to joining Acvian, Anthony Zakharov spent years working side by side with business owners, built processes at internal departments from scratch, led external communications and cross-company negotiations, and entered EOR at the very dawn of this service field. Currently, he is the first point of contact for Acvian’s potential clients and ongoing partners, the driving force for digitalization and tech-based solutions, and an experienced manager with a result-based, but compassionate approach. Having spent a good half of his life as an expat, Anthony is an expert in intercultural communication and has a few experience-based tips to share on managing remote teams and getting the best time-money value out of third-party HR services.
Hello Anthony! As far as we know, you’ve been working in EOR since its early days. What led you to this field in the first place?
Hello, and thanks for the question! I guess I’ve always pursued people-oriented careers that are in line with my core strengths. I studied international tax and law at International University of Applied Sciences (IU), gained early experience in international business communications, sales, and e-commerce, and moved to Ukraine to implement my networking skills in EOR, a then-new field. It was also the time I met some of my future Acvian colleagues.
As Business Development Manager, you must be engaged in a variety of processes. How can your job be best explained to an outsider?
I’m likely the first person to talk to whoever reaches out to Acvian. One big thing I do is sales. I introduce our service to potential customers at in-person or virtual meetings and redirect the ones interested in partnering up to the Operations team. I also lead day-to-day communications with our providers in different countries. Another area I’m actively engaged in is process automation. I research software trends in the HR market, analyze popular customer requests, and offer tech-based solutions for our internal workspace as well as customer relationship management systems. Let me spill the tea a bit: we’re currently working on a major, much-requested digital tool to manage clients’ teams. If you are following Acvian’s social media, stay tuned for further announcements!
For a business in need of EOR support, you are one of several, if not many, salespeople their HR or decision maker will be talking to, scanning the options, and looking for the best price-quality value. What are the major client benefits of choosing to work with Acvian? What do you offer that the others don’t?
Again – great, crucial questions! As you’ve mentioned correctly, a company will typically connect to a few competing providers in search of the best deal. Their HR or whoever is in charge of the task will sit through a series of virtual sessions while ‘talking heads’ on the EOR side guide them through the offers. In many, if not most, cases the first-line employee a.k.a. salesperson trying to get a new client aboard is just that – a salesperson. He or she is trained to present the service and answer generic FAQs, maybe give a potential customer basic information on country specifics. Any in-depth questions won’t be addressed unless an agreement is signed.
For existing clients, the channels of communication also start with first-line employees who process requests in a call center style. Questions get redirected to specialists with a more in-depth understanding of a certain topic: visa application, payroll, taxation, legal issues, etc. As a client, you are ‘hanging on the line’ until your request reaches the person with corresponding competencies. Meanwhile, you are losing time and resources. Of course, I can’t speak for all our competitors and make generalized assumptions, but it’s fair to say that this style of client management is typical for many software-first EOR solutions. When a business like this swells, big portions of the budget go into marketing, but at the end of the day, your first point of contact is still a ‘call center person’ who may genuinely want to help but can’t do that on their own.
Acvian gives you access to internal expertise BEFORE you make the decision and sign an agreement with us. Here, the specialists you reach out to, including myself, are people with relevant education and years of practical experience. We cross-consult each other and access the internal knowledge base, so it is guaranteed that whoever you get in touch with will have an in-depth understanding of your issue. Automation and up-to-date software are undoubtedly important, but if it’s self-service, what are you really paying for? I always highlight this in first meetings with potential customers: Acvian offers you consulting and expert advice at all stages of collaboration, with impressively short response times.
It is no news that EOR companies make their profit from clients, not from the client’s employees. Acvian wants you to enjoy the service and remain with us for the longest possible time, that’s why we are a hundred percent transparent with a service fee breakdown. You’d be surprised how many providers fail to specify this to clients.
We want you to know what you are paying for as we help your business grow.
This is well said. Before we wrap up, could you share a few quick insights on managing fully remote expert teams and staying agile in a digital-first environment?
Absolutely. I’ve been leading internal departments for several years now, and here is what I’ve learned so far:
- Excessive micromanagement kills trust. Especially when dealing with highly skilled teams.
- Big Brother style of performance tracking kills trust, too. Result-based approach is by far the best practice.
- Person-to-person connection matters. For remote teams, there is no such thing as morning small talk in the kitchen or exchanging work-related jokes at lunch breaks. As a leader, you have to find other ways to relate to your colleagues, such as regular one-on-one meetings or five-minute icebreakers before getting down to work-related exchange.
Thank you, Anthony! These are very relatable tips, and I’m sure that professionals interested in EOR service will find our conversation helpful and insightful.
It was my pleasure.