Gary Valkenburg, Founder & CEO
Having served as a trainer in the restaurant/retail space for nearly two decades, Gary Valkenburg has had a plenty of opportunities to observe and study how major businesses operate first-hand. What he noticed around the world was the major disconnect between employees and their supervisors. Bridging this gap, Valkenburg set out to provide a unified platform for both employees and administrator engagement, during a time when technology didn’t have online training capabilities. Today, this idea is recognized on a global scale as “World Manager,” a leading HR and training management company serving over 30,000 business locations in more than 50 countries. With the ground-breaking World Manager platform, Valkenburg and his team have transformed the way organizations do business by providing unprecedented employee reporting capabilities through six fully integrated suites which cover operations, human resources, training, communications, education, and scheduling. “Our goal was to create a platform that allows every CEO to train, track, and communicate with employees while controlling company compliance globally,” explains Valkenburg, Founder and CEO, World Manager.
"We are centralizing an employee’s interactions into a single platform"
“Essentially, we wanted to create a ‘corporate communications highway’ as our logo symbolizes; the round, blue circle being the planet and the swirl throughout being the highway,” says the CEO. What makes the World Manager platform unique is that it does not replace the systems enterprises already have in place—it enhances them. It allows them to use their existing processes and systems by providing tool templates for sharing information with their employees around the world. It is the one platform that oversees every employee of an organization, regardless of where they are in the world, every minute of every day, so the name, “World Manager.” By staying ahead of the industry trends, the company has been widely recognized for their forward-thinking software and is renowned as one of the top employee engagement solution providers in the world.
From Strength to Strength
Achieving such a status has certainly been no walk in the park. Valkenburg recollects his first days in the driver’s seat and the lack of support therein. “When you start a company in your bedroom, no one sends you a memo on how to run a business. I had no idea what I was doing and it was the sheer will and determination to not fail that kept us moving forward.” The first four years, which he labels as “beginner’s luck,” resulted in high-profile partnerships, with over 11,000 business locations in 34 countries using their platform. “The ‘need’ to prove everyone wrong is strong when you’re young, starting out, and inexperienced,” he adds. However, year five proved to be crucial for his business. After hitting a creative block, he came very close to losing everything.
Our goal was to create a platform that allows every CEO to train, track, and communicate with employees while controlling company compliance globally
Nonetheless, it was around the same time, when the stars aligned perfectly for what re-directed the company’s roadmap to catapult it to a whole new stage—Valkenburg met the life coaching giant and his soon-to-be personal mentor, Tony Robbins. For the World Manager CEO, it set out to be a life-changing journey. Having spent a year and a half traveling the world together, Robbins taught him all the crucial aspects of personal development, business, different cultures, and spirituality. “It was mainly just getting my head in the right place to be able to step up and be who I needed to be to run a global company,” Valkenburg recounts.
Through Robbins, he went on to meet his current business mentor and acting chairman of the company, Keith Cunningham. “In the seven years since Keith came aboard, the company has grown from strength to strength every year,” says Valkenburg. “Every quarter, he’s helped me avoid the ‘dumb tax’ and steered me away from many dangerous pitfalls I just never would have seen. Our rapid growth and continued success would not be possible without the guidance received from Keith.”
Changing How the World Does Business
Last year, the major release was the completely overhauled 8.0 platform. The all-new design made the platform more intuitive, mobile-friendly, customer-centric, and engaging. The focus for 2017 is Human Resources. Every quarter there will be significant HR upgrade releases. Improving its already comprehensive HR suite, the company is weeks away from launching the cutting-edge Onboarding tool in the U.S. that will allow brands to do paperless I-9, W-4, and WOTC. It gives new employees the chance to hit the ground running since Day-1 by joining their respective companies prior to their start date through a mobile app. “It will definitely be one of the only few products built for multi-location franchising and retail companies—one that is 100 percent integrated into an entire suite of HR tools,” says Valkenburg. With the upcoming Contract Generation tool, Managers will be able to make contracts, send them through the platform to employees, and employees will use the new e-signature, signing contracts using their fingers on a mobile device. Further solidifying this addition is a partnership with Broadbean, which allows access to the top job boards and social media platforms on a global level, saving HR teams resources and reducing systems and processes to reach a larger talent pool of candidates at the click of a button. Companies of any size can drastically minimize costs around report tracking, data collection, analysis, testing, and follow-up by creating all online systems internally within World Manager 8.0. Sweeping changes to recruitment and appraisals are also on the 2017 upgrade roadmap.
Essentially, all aspects of the employee lifecycle are tied together using one custom-branded platform, allowing users to send and receive vital communication, complete training, onboarding, HR, and compliance modules on demand.
Moreover, the company has launched a new Scheduling suite in partnership with ZUUS Workforce, allowing brands to seamlessly provide employee schedules directly through the World Manager platform. Ultimately, “we are centralizing an employee’s interactions into a single platform,” notes Valkenburg.
Breaking the standard business and sales practices, World Manager’s global team of experts channel their talent and experience to change how the world does business. Throughout the myriad of partnerships under their belt, they have formed one of the largest think tanks in the world called World Manager Community, currently listing over 200 brands. “As our client base expands internationally, the synergy we create with our partners grows exponentially,” comments Valkenburg. “We are driving this ongoing change and innovation by implementing some stand-out technical and functionality improvements while also re-aligning the core leadership team of our own business to better support our brands, product, and people.”
As World Manager forges into the future, Valkenburg reveals plans to expand their geographical footprint into two more countries. This will allow them to extend their market reach with more global offices, improve service quality, and add more leading brand names to their ever-growing clientele around the world.
“The heavy investment into the HR Suite is being done with the intention of providing deeper functionality around the onboarding process globally,” he states. What is more, clients will not be charged a fee for every employee they process, as all these onboarding features are being provided for free as part of World Manager’s VIP Treatment policy. What this does is provide clients with free upgrades, support, and account management with no price increases during the entire life span of their agreement, as well as no fixed-term contract—adding even more to the already strong value proposition of World Manager.
Leading by Example and Vision
With all these new features going live in 2017, in addition to a complete overhaul of their current recruitment and appraisals tools, World Manager is aiming for the top. Indeed, World Manager 8.0 is a one-of-a-kind example of what the future of HR looks like. For Valkenburg, it was never about creating the most profitable product but proving naysayers wrong and creating a solution that effectively taps into any hierarchy and provides a unified set of solutions for a unique user experience and maximized business outcomes. Needless to say, it is the journey that matters here, not the destination. It is what pushed Valkenburg to “be the best that he can be”—words to live by.
The short-spoken mantra eventually transcended into World Manager’s vision for evolution. It birthed a team that has always taken the client-first approach to open the pathway to better HR opportunities, evident in every corner of the company. “In the last few years, the global leadership team has done an outstanding job of topgrading each of their divisions, bringing in top talent, from platform testers, developers, content development team, and relationship managers to our sales guns. Be it selling our platform, after-sale support, or providing the best possible upgrades, the entire team is focused on doing the best they can,” concludes Valkenburg. “From our hardcore tech developers working on the back-end and our highly skilled subject matter experts to the brand support team that keeps everything ticking over, we love our product, believe in it, and live to provide VIP treatment to all our brands.”