Leo von Wendorff obtained his Bachelor and Master of Business Administration at Chaminade University of Honolulu. After a successful career at General Motors, Wells Fargo and the Capital Group Companies, he started Virtual Knowledge Workers.
Leo was recently featured on the cover of Boston Globe Magazine, also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, and on CBS MoneyWatch about ways to scale your business quickly using time-saving outsourcing solutions.
Virtual Knowledge Workers are experts at providing virtual staffing solutions to help you grow your business.
1.) What inspired you to launch Virtual Knowledge Workers?
I was working in corporate relocation. While I was in the office, I
still worked remotely. I relocated expats from one country to another. Yet,
I was only available via phone and email. My expats called me the Virtual
Leo. The most frequent question I got was how I looked like. I asked
General Motors and later Capital Group, my past employers, if they would be
willing to give me a webcam. The answer was no. That was ground zero for
VKW. Everything after that grew organically.
2.) You’re in the unusual position of helping a Filipino call center
open in the US. Can you elaborate a bit on the development process for the
project and any unique challenges you’re encountered along the way?
It may sound like the world in reverse. Call centers are not a
driver for the US when it comes to job creation. The US is much stronger in
IT, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture and other sectors. Just like you
would go to Germany to find a reliable engineer, or to China to find a
quant (someone who’s really good at math), or to the US to find a CFO, you
would go to the Philippines to find great call center agents. You’re
talking to the Philippines more often than you think you do. Aside from the
fact that the Philippines was once part of the US Commonwealth and that
American English is almost a national language, the culture also prides
itself in providing great service.
Prosperity is not a limited resource for which we have to get into a fight
over us versus them. Prosperity occurs when we work together. Doing
business with our allies is not a threat to our wealth but an opportunity
to create more wealth for both.
So yes, it's really unusual for a call center from the Philippines to setup
shop in the US. Our Filipino call center agents are now training our US
call center agents. We're not only hoping to re-create the same quality of
service but to grow both sides as they learn from each other. We've already
started merging them virtually. Because of the 12-hour time difference both
locations work their respective day-shifts.
3.) What are the key questions and concerns a company should be
considering when it comes to outsourcing?
As a business leader, your job is to work “on” your company, not
“in” your company. Once you have a process, you can hand it off to someone
else. But as an entrepreneur, you don’t want to buy an employee or
time-sheets, you want to buy results. With VKW, entrepreneurs can focus on
the results, the Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
4.) What are some of the steps that you’ve taken to ensure that
you’ve created a work-environment that promotes collaborative innovation
and individual responsibility?
Oh, this is deeply rooted in an old Prussian military strategy
called Auftragstaktik (German), which was developed to defeat Napoleon. In
its simplest form, Auftragstaktik sets the goal but not the means.
Our VPAs have a wealth of resources available to them. The client sets the
goal and our VPAs achieve that goal with great independence. Our VPAs are
experienced workers: They are not 14 years old; so we treat them like the
adults they are. See, we expect from our VPAs to provide excellent service
to our clients. In turn, it’s only fair that VKW’s management team is an
excellent employer to them. VKW management services the VPA with all the
tools, training, and resources they need to accomplish the goal of
servicing their client. This also means that they can tap into their
co-workers for assistance to complete the task. This created a deep respect
among the co-workers and a sense of appreciation for the support they give
each other. We’ve also noticed that by doing this, they teach each other
new skills and bring everyone higher.
5.) Can you talk about the process of having your Virtual Private
Assistant chosen to be on MTV’s Real World? What aspect are you most
Not sure what the show will be called. It’s a pilot for a new show.
It was more accidental. I’m acquainted with the main actor – can you call
reality-TV-actors actors? Anyway, he works out of the same office as I do.
We occasionally had a drink together. And then one day he approached me
with the idea. I asked one of my VPAs, who has acting experience if she
would be willing… the next thing I knew, she was chatting with the MTV
producer via Skype.