Masha Sutherlin Meet Deel

Meet Deel: Masha Sutherlin, Director of Global Corporate Legal and Mobility

In the Meet Deel series, we chat with team members across the organization to get their unique insights into remote work, life at Deel, and more.

Shannon Hodgen
Written by Shannon Hodgen
October 28, 2022

One of the biggest challenges companies face when building a global workforce is immigration. At Deel, we knew that companies needed an efficient way to provide employees with the proper visas to work abroad—and we wanted to create the solution.

So, we acquired LegalPad, and built out a Global Mobility team with Masha Sutherlin as our Director of Global Corporate Legal and Mobility.

Masha has worked in Global Mobility for nearly a decade, building and scaling Global Employment and Mobility functions across 30+ countries for companies including Palantir and Nubank. Throughout her career, Masha has been guided by a core principle: Always think you are right, but don’t think you are always right.

This principle is about data and how to interpret it. If there’s a 75% chance of rain, then bring an umbrella—but don’t get mad if it doesn’t rain. Play the odds but understand the way probability works. It will help you make judgment calls.

Masha Sutherlin, Director of Global Corporate Legal and Mobility, Deel

Here’s what Masha shared about her leadership style, working at Deel, and the future of Global Mobility.

What led you to Deel?

Masha: I met Alex Bouaziz (Deel’s Co-Founder and CEO) a few years ago and talked at length about Deel. At the time, there wasn’t a clear alignment. In fact, I clearly remember saying, “You need Mobility in your business,” and he said, “What is Mobility?” Around six months later, he came back saying, “Okay, we need Mobility,” haha.

I wasn’t looking to move, as I was still working with my team at Nubank to get them to a stable space, but Alex and I stayed connected. Eventually, he lit a fire under me and said it was time to build something amazing together… and voila, here I am! I was always a fan of Alex and Deel, but this opportunity to reinvent and rethink a practice in what is normally a boring and traditional field is the most exciting challenge of my career.

What does the Director of Global Corporate Legal and Mobility at Deel do?

Masha: As a Director, I focus on building out regional strategies to support better service and efficiency, reduce complexity, and increase transparency. I also work with our immigration counsel both in-house and externally to advise on risk assessment, legal interpretation, and liaising with the authorities as we continue to expand our services.

A large part of my role involves helping our people become autonomous and leading subject matter experts in their respective jurisdictions. In parallel, I partner with our product teams to develop and design our Mobility product vision.

How has Global Mobility evolved over the years, and what will it look like in the future?

Masha: Global Mobility used to be for C-suite or leadership-level folks to be sent on assignment or relocated. Over time, it has been democratized and opened up to everyone, including new grads, contractors, and nomads. It has evolved from very standard packaged offerings to a more customized experience based on an individual’s needs.

The Mobility function also moved from the ops team to a more strategic decision-maker within companies. These teams are vital to the global expansion and health of a multinational business, and they are now seen as partners on the business side.

Our vision is to make Mobility simple, transparent, and fun. We want our clients to be able to outsource the complexity to Deel and help them expand globally in a rapid and compliant way.

What have been the biggest barriers to Global Mobility?

Masha: The biggest barrier is legislation that was written for and based on very different labor market dynamics. At the time, the drivers for that legislation were to protect the local labor markets. The concept of digital nomads or millennials who expect to live abroad during their careers didn’t really exist. Some countries are changing their stance to attract nomads and highly-skilled migrants and, with that, revitalize and diversify their economies.

What are your best tips for providing global immigration support?

Masha: Getting a work permit and moving to a new country is a very personal and scary experience. The immigration processes are also not very transparent or straightforward.

It’s important to remember that this isn’t a process but a human you are supporting. If you treat them with honesty, dignity, and transparency, then even during the most difficult moments (and there will most certainly be some), you will still be partners and can navigate to the ideal outcome together.

Masha Sutherlin, Director of Global Corporate Legal and Mobility, Deel

What’s the one thing that makes working at Deel special?

Masha: You get to build something you are passionate about—the future of global work—with very talented people who are just as passionate. It makes for a very engaging, focused, and challenging experience.

What are the biggest pros and cons of working on a distributed team?

Masha: The pros are the diversity of thought, experience, and culture that creates more growth opportunities and a much better product. I’ve always worked in international teams and continue to learn so much about communication and leadership from my colleagues around the world.

Having a team in such different time zones can be a challenge for work-life balance. There are times when I have very early meetings and very late meetings to ensure I can meet with Seattle and Hong Kong. So, I set healthy boundaries and only make exceptions when it’s warranted, and I encourage my team to follow my lead.

What do you find difficult about your job, and how do you handle it?

Masha: Not everything is possible to build, fix, or do all at once and without mistakes. But when you are so passionate about your field, you want to do it all yesterday and for free. So, I pace myself, identify the most important thing to work on, and understand that everything won’t be where I want it to be, and that’s okay. Really, it’s about prioritizing and setting expectations for myself and the team.

What are the main principles of your leadership style?

Masha: My main leadership principles are:

  • Assume good intent
  • High trust; high autonomy
  • When we question things it isn’t personal—we want the best ideas to rise to the top
  • Be professional and respectful, but don’t shy away from difficult conversations
  • Be an owner—don’t assume someone else will do it
  • Always think you are right but don’t think you are always right
  • Deel Speed is a thing. We want to go fast—and that means having a very different appetite for ambition than most companies—but not so fast that we don’t think through the impact
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint. Let’s fix the short-term fire but diagnose the long-term strategy. Let’s work hard but not burn out

What’s a life goal that working remotely has helped you accomplish?

Masha: Being able to support and connect with my very globally distributed family and friends without having to choose between my career or investing in meaningful relationships.

Want to work with Masha and the team at Deel? Good news—we’re hiring!

Deel makes growing remote and international teams effortless. Ready to get started?






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