Lebanon has endured numerous transformations in recent years, impacting the country on a national level. Its startup ecosystem and talent have not been spared. With concerns tied to remote working models becoming a thing of the past, Lebanon has become a prime destination for global companies to source quality talent in the digital realm. This shift is primarily due to multiple ecosystem players working individually and in tandem to promote the sheer talent that exists in the country.
“We see a growing ecosystem of players in Lebanon, working in their own ways to promote Lebanon as a country to outsource and outstaff to,” shares Fadi Bizri, Co-Founder of SE Factory and HR Factory. “This has resulted in international companies finding and recruiting the best local talent, which of course, has a positive impact on Lebanon’s economy,” he adds.
SE Factory was founded in 2016, working to upskill digital talent, specifically coders, priming them for the international workforce. Since then, tied to the ongoing upward trend of outsourcing to Lebanon, this prompted SE Factory to set up HR Factory, which can act as a local partner and turnkey HR/payroll solution provider for international companies looking to build teams in Lebanon. Yet, hiring, managing and retaining remote talent does come with some challenges, according to Fadi.
“Hiring in general is never easy. Even more so in the case of remote hiring, you want to see if the individual has not just the right skillset, but also is the right cultural fit for the organization,” he adds.
In the case of SE Factory bootcamp applicants go through rigorous reviews processes, composed of multiple layers and not focused only on technical assessment of their coding ability
“This eliminates a lot of risk when it comes to junior developers for example, as they undergo a lot of vetting to join the 3-month bootcamp, with subsequent assessment every 2 weeks afterwards,” he explains. “Technical skills are one aspect, but the right attitude is just as important, so we assess on that as well train on soft skills and remote-readiness skills”
With remote teams, some working from home and others from coworking spaces, it is integral that remote workers are proactive, he advises.
“You want to find candidates that are solution-oriented, and not passive. The ones that ask the right questions, are self-starting and self-motivated. This need doubles when you work with professionals remotely. Given that they are not surrounded by other team members, companies need to look for talent who exhibit an innate sense of growth and progression,” he shares.
So what can companies do to find, retain and promote the right talent in Lebanon?
“They need to communicate and often. Here are some insights from our experience at SE Factory and HR Factory:
- Lebanese talent captures the right balance between educational levels, skills and competencies, quality offered and cost efficiencies. Lebanese talent is also culturally robust and works in a time zone that is ideal for companies all around the world. We will never be the cheapest, but hiring well vetted, trained professionals in Lebanon can come at one third or half of other candidates in other markets at the same level.
- We encourage companies, their management and teams, to be highly communicative, especially if they have not met their remote team in person. Barriers need to be removed. Teams should speak and connect often and share, without micromanaging of course.
- All the best practices in management come into play when managing remote teams, but more acutely. Everything needs to be clear and streamlined. Questions such as who is leading? Who is communicating on this? Who is double checking that? These internal systems all need to be clear.
- Lastly, I would advise they find a local partner who is responsive and transparent, who can support with finding and managing local talent, as well as oversee legal, financial or even office space needs, as they arise.”
As for Lebanese talent, looking to take on remote work, here are a few pointers:
“Luckily, we are living in 2023, and not in 1993. Companies, especially the smaller ones are more comfortable with recruiting remote talent that has both skills and cultural fit. For Lebanese talent seeking global roles, they need to get on the radar of international companies and have an internationally competitive skillset.
We find that international companies are on the lookout for roles in the realms of digital marketing, coding, content creation, design and sales/customer support. However, demand is also on the rise for product managers, which is popular in the tech startup space, as well as UX / UI professionals and data analytics. New upskilling programs to cater for this demand are launching soon in the country, with SE Factory, for example, launching its new Data Analytics and Engineering bootcamp in Q2 of this year.
Here are some additional insights for Lebanese talent:
- Digital talent is globally in demand. However, good communication is key. Aspiring talent should hone their communication and English skills, as there is no excuse not to have them.
- Get your profile out there. Activate your Linkedin presence. If you work in content development, share it online. If you’re in tech, build your project portfolio online of websites and Apps you have developed. Designers too, need to be online.
- Upskill yourself and take part in bootcamps, offering accelerated professional training in Lebanon.”
Lebanese talent is often referred to as ‘resilient’, seemingly undaunted by the turn of events, and managing to remain fully productive and delivering on time. They adapt really fast to change, which allows for business continuity without disruption.
“Our experience clearly shows that our client companies, whether they are in Europe, in the US or the GCC, are able to build highly competent, functional teams in Lebanon. It is a great place to outsource and outstaff to,” Fadi shares.