Advice on Growing a Global Company & More from David Lloyd, CEO of The Intern Group

“In large companies a bad hire is costly. In smaller, younger companies, especially those with different teams spread out around the world, it can break you.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing David Lloyd, CEO of The Intern Group, an award-winning social enterprise that offers international internship programs. David runs a team across 12 countries and offers his advice below on how to manage a team this size spread around the world.

What is your “backstory?”

Right after finishing university, I moved to Latin America with the goal of becoming fluent in Spanish. I lived in Buenos Aires, where I enrolled in Spanish classes and sought out an internship to help me solidify my language skills. However, not knowing anyone made this a difficult task, though I was finally offered a marketing internship with Rolex.

I moved back to London and became a fixed income salesman at Merrill Lynch. It was my internship experience overseas that had made me stand out to the Merrill Lynch recruiters. It was at this point I realised that my international internship experience had real value in the jobs market.

I was a sales and trading analyst on the Iberia desk, based in London. I realized, however, that the corporate banking world was not for me, and I wanted to do something different.

I looked back on my time in Argentina, and the frustrations of finding an internship there, but the real benefits an international internship had offered me, and thus started The Intern Group.

What do you think makes your company stand out?

We focus on offering students an international internship experience, which in today’s competitive market is extremely valuable. We go beyond the simple study abroad programs to global employment so that students can build contacts and understand different cultures.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Find great co-founders/partners/mentors. These people will help build and grow your business. You really can’t do it alone, so make sure to understand your weaknesses and have people that can make up for those skill sets on your team.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

I have an excellent mentor, Alan Dean, who forms part of the Merryck worldwide organization of mentors.

I effectively tried to reinvent the wheel for numerous years after starting my business. It was only five years after starting The Intern Group that I finally gave in to advice of friends and family and tried out their suggestion of having a mentor.

Two years later, I am so happy I tried this out. I have realized as a result that very few problems entrepreneurs face have not been seen before. Having sage advice from someone you respect, who has been there and done it, helps reduce stress, clear a path forward and has been invaluable to me.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Our students walk away with more cultural understanding, which is especially important now. By going and working abroad, younger generations can learn to better empathize with people from different regions and hopefully bring that empathy back to their home countries.

I also see The Intern Group as inspiring students to take themselves out of their comfort zone, to believe in themselves, and to make their career dreams come true.

Our purpose is, essentially, to help humans realize their full potential.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO” and why.

  1. Take your time to hire: In large companies a bad hire is costly. In smaller, younger companies, especially those with different teams spread out around the world, it can break you.
  2. Ideas can come out of anywhere: I had no idea that my time in Argentina would lead me to create The Intern Group, so be open to inspiration that comes in all forms.
  3. It’s OK to take the leap: Working in finance was not a fit, but it was a norm for most, so leaving that position was hard to do, but in the end the best decision I made.
  4. Get a great mentor: Like many founders, I didn’t start out with a mentor. However, I quickly realized the importance of having a great mentor that can offer guidance and advice so that every challenge I face can be seen as an opportunity instead.
  5. You’ll always be involved in the day-to-day: If you’re a good leader, you’ll never stop being involved in the day-to-day operations of your business. I believe showing up and providing your team with ongoing motivation are critical elements for success.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

Simon Sinek.

I find his work on Why and his Golden Circle concept extremely inspiring, starting with his TED talk.

I believe that purpose-driven and values-led companies outperform the competition. I am using this belief to drive forward The Intern Group!

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