Meet Rick Hammell, CEO and Founder at Global HR Tech Firm: Element Global Services

Elements Global Services is a global HR tech firm with a simple mission – to simplify global expansion. We are doing this by building software that breaks down the barriers to new markets and global expansion. Our services are powered by proprietary HR technology that removes the pain from administrative processes across human capital management, benefit managements, visa & mobility and HR outsourcing. We are headquartered in Chicago with regional headquarters in Barcelona and Shanghai. Our London location is one of our first and focuses on the City of London’s financial services leaders as well as the UK’s thriving tech and startup scene. We pioneered the 100% direct Employer of Record to offer companies the ability to expand their business in over 135 countries worldwide.

Through our cloud-based technologies, ApprovPay (for global payroll and human capital management) and Expandopedia (our SaaS for business intelligence), we empower companies to hire anyone, anywhere. These technologies underpin our programs and solutions, in particular Venture Global, which enables VCs and PEs to follow the flow of capital globally and maximize their return on investment. We see Venture Global being the ideal partner for the UK’s financial services industry. We believe this is the revolution that the HR industry has been waiting for.
 
 
Elements Global Services Announces Opening of APAC Headquarters In Shanghai  To Support Expansion & Growth
 

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
I founded the business at my dining room table in Chicago after having a number of HR leadership roles. I noticed that many companies were using Professional Employer Organisations, which I always found to be inefficient. PEOs use a host of third parties to execute their services, so the customer gets stuck in a web of processes and e-mail chains, so the deliverable, whether it’s onboarding a new employee, handling their benefits or even paying them, slows to a trickle and no one is happy. Imagine an actual chain – if one of the links breaks, all the other links are in a world of trouble.

So from my dining room table in the Windy City, I devised the 100% direct Employer of Record model. My company, Elements Global Services, would own the entire HR process, so we would avoid the third parties that ramp-up costs and add delays. We established our own legal entities in over 135 countries worldwide to provide the HR infrastructure that companies need when they are growing their business. We are all the links in the chain, so we lower the cost of global expansion as well as the time it takes. Take China, for example – it can take 18 months to expand your business there, while we are able to do it within a month or two.

Ultimately, the customer wants the service to be delivered seamlessly and hassle-free, and that’s what we’ve strived to build. When a customer works with Elements Global Services, they have a dedicated partner who knows and understands their business, and who can respond in real-time to ensure that their company can continue expanding globally. We bake technology into everything we do – we find that tech offers the customer the simplest and fastest experience while enabling us to ensure their data is fully protected and secured. This allows the customer to focus on their core business instead of the potential distraction that suboptimal HR execution can cause.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
We’ve always been a global company. The Pandemic was obviously one of those profound events but for our business, there was no tangible impact. A large proportion of our workforce already worked remotely, so it was a case of applying what we did for remote employees to those who are (or were) office-based. Naturally, there’s an adjustment period but it was pretty seamless. Nothing can replace face-to-face collaboration and those creative moments of inspiration and innovation, but a remote world hasn’t held us back.

We developed, launched and enhanced several new technology solutions, which have ultimately made the pandemic more manageable for our customers. Our headcount has more than doubled in the past 18 months to around 160 people worldwide and we even relocated our global headquarters from Barcelona, Spain, to my hometown of Chicago as well as opened a number of locations, including Shanghai.

Now, obviously a once-in-a-century event, like a pandemic, doesn’t make any of this easier but it hasn’t held us back and it’s hard to assess the opportunity cost because our business has grown, our workforce has soared and we even secured our first equity investment ($20 million series A round led by Guidepost Growth Equity). We listened to our customer’s needs, adapted our services, and provided them with technology that allowed them to quickly adapt to the new workplace environment.
 

What can we hope to see from Elements Global Services in the future?

 
We will get bigger and the UK is an important part of that story. If the pandemic has taught us one thing in business, is that revenues need to be diversified, so we will continue to diversify. We look at the UK and see a lot of opportunity, particularly in financial services and tech. The UK seems to have identified a pathway post-Brexit that is sprinting towards global growth as opposed to regional and continental growth.

Politics aside, that global angle and vision aligns with where we are and where we are going as a business. We are investing a lot in our workforce and constantly improving our technology to provide our customers with the simplest and fastest solutions possible.