We are excited to sit down with Rick Hammell, the founder, and CEO of Atlas, for an exclusive interview. In this conversation, Rick shares his background and the story behind the creation of Atlas, a service-enabled technology company that simplifies hiring and paying an international workforce.
With entities in over 160 countries and a platform that cuts out the need for third-party providers, Atlas provides customers with a direct approach that helps them expand into new markets faster, at a lower cost, and with better control over international compliance.
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Table of Contents
We are thrilled to have you join us today, welcome to ValiantCEO Magazine’s exclusive interview! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Tell our readers a bit about yourself and your company.
Rick Hammell: I’m the founder and CEO of Atlas. I started Atlas when I noticed the complications of navigating global expansion. As the Head of HR for a global company, I experienced challenges paying global employees.
At that time, we didn’t have our own entities—a necessity for hiring and paying an international workforce. There were third-party solutions available that were costly, time-consuming, and didn’t provide insight into the markets I was hiring.
That was my “aha” moment. I needed to own entities in the countries I was managing employees. So, I coined the term ‘Direct Employer of Record’ when I started my company.
Today with entities in over 160 countries, Atlas enables our clients to quickly and cost-effectively expand into new markets with lower compliance risks through localized expertise and technology.
If you were in an elevator with Warren Buffett, how would you describe your company, services, or products? What makes your company different from others? What is your company’s biggest strength?
Rick Hammell: The future of work requires a new solution to manage and pay global talent. And Atlas is that solution — a service-enabled technology company that simplifies hiring and paying an international workforce. Typically, an established entity is required when hiring and paying talent in new countries. But setting up your own entity is costly, time-consuming, and complicated.
That’s where Atlas can help. We have entities in over 160 countries and can support companies looking to tap new talent and enter new markets. The Atlas platform simplifies this even further, allowing customers to manage their global people operations in one place, reducing the complexities of scaling.
Our direct approach is what differentiates us from others. Atlas cuts out the need for third- and fourth-party providers, which means we have the local expertise of the market you may be expanding to. As a result, our direct approach helps our clients get to market faster, at a lower cost, and with better quality control over international compliance.
Our people are our strength. The Atlas team is based in over 30 countries and speaks over 90 languages. So while our platform can simplify the process, our people deliver the local expertise that our clients want.
Quiet quitting, The Great Resignation, are an ongoing trend causing many businesses to struggle keeping talent engaged and motivated. Most are leaving because of their boss or their company culture. 82% of people feel unheard, undervalued and misunderstood in the workplace. In your experience, what keeps employees happy? And how are adapting to the current shift we see?
Rick Hammell: Companies saw a rise in employee turnover in 2022 due to a lack of engagement. So, it’s essential to focus on increasing employee engagement by bettering the employee experience.
At Atlas, that means, for starters, listening to our people – setting up regular communication channels, and considering feedback. Additionally, we give our people access to learning and development opportunities to develop themselves for this role or a future position.
We also realize that our employees’ lives are more than just work, so we’ve implemented an unlimited PTO policy across the globe. And, because we have a global workforce, there’s no need for our people to be worried about whether there is coverage. This allows Atlas employees to truly unwind.
Online business keeps on surging higher than ever, B2B, B2C, online shopping, virtual meetings, remote work, Zoom medical consultations, what are your expectations for the year to come and how are you capitalizing on the tidal wave?
Rick Hammell: Remote work is here to stay. Employees realize they have options when it comes to working, and employers see the value in accessing talent from around the globe.
The talent pool is widening, and this requires a specific solution. That’s where Atlas, with our tech-enabled Direct Employer of Record model, steps in. We can help companies navigate the complexities of hiring engineers in Israel or marketers in Hong Kong.
And, with automation and self-service features, our platform makes it simple to have the information you need at your fingertips, along with access to a regional expert.
Christopher Hitchens, an American journalist, is quoted as saying that “everyone has a book in them” Have you written a book? If so, please share with us details about it. If you haven’t, what book would you like to write and how would you like it to benefit the readers?
Rick Hammell: My book Getting Sh*t Done!: The Millennial CEO was published in 2021. This is my story, so far!
I start with how my career began – quitting my job and leaving a toxic environment, which kickstarted my HR career and left me wanting to learn everything I could about workers’ rights. From there, my journey to becoming the CEO of a global company was not a straightforward path. I endured countless moments of self-doubt, prejudice, and self-perceived failures. But I learned a lot about myself, and how to truly be a CEO, which I’m still learning!
This book is, at its core, a guide for entrepreneurs. It’s my take on the values you’ll need, the experiences you’ll face, and the sacrifices you’ll make – intertwined with stories of my path to becoming the founder and CEO of Atlas.
2020, 2021, 2022 threw a lot of curve balls into businesses on a global scale. Based on the experience gleaned in the past years, how can businesses thrive in 2023? What lessons have you learned and what advice would you share?
Rick Hammell: The past few years have forced companies to rethink their strategies for talent and business. At Atlas, we’ve learned to stay agile and always plan for worst-case scenarios. Staying proactive and planning for what may happen is critical for business continuity.
It’s also essential to have a deep understanding of your business structure and client needs. Are you prepared for the demands of the future? What your clients wanted five years ago may differ from what they’ll want tomorrow. At Atlas, we position ourselves to meet our customers’ current and future needs. For us, that means enhancing our technology through self-service and automation.
In terms of talent, it’s no secret that we’re heading into a volatile economic period. So how can you recession-proof your talent strategy? Does that mean hiring employees in different markets to reach a new customer base or tapping high-skilled talent that isn’t available in your immediate community? This is what the Atlas business model supports and one that allowed us to stay resilient during the pandemic.
What does “success” in the year to come mean to you? It could be on a personal or business level, please share your vision.
Rick Hammell: Success for Atlas in the year to come means staying ahead of our client’s demands. The future of work is continuing to change, and that means Atlas must meet their current and future needs. For us, that means expanding our global reach and enhancing our technology.
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Rick Hammell for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Rick Hammell or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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