Ask the Pro: A Service Delivery Transformation Perspective on “Emerging Market Talent Strategies”

Matt Szuhaj, director, Deloitte Consulting LLP

It’s only natural that when you establish a service delivery operation in a growing economy, you should expect the scope, responsibilities and performance of that operation to grow, too. Instead of planning for today’s needs by defining and satisfying static skill requirements, you should incorporate room for that growth by engaging highly talented people who have future potential. None of that is new to a talent manager who works with U.S. operations. But compared to the traditional view of overseas shared service centers, it’s a significant change.

I can’t overemphasize the importance of diving in to learn the landscape. For example, at technical job fairs in India, domestic employers get to present first and it’s hard for multinationals to snare the top talent. Some savvy companies have learned to shift their recruiting focus to two- and three-year veterans instead and are getting better talent returns. In other countries, especially ones with more central economic control, you can’t set up a shared service center or any operation unless you have a domestic partner. That can help speed cultural awareness and efficiency — but the wrong choice could leave you in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or even in unwitting collaboration with a competitor.

The “eureka moments” that drive effective emerging-market service delivery often have to do with sensitivity. In one recent case in Latin America, phone calls and Internet video meetings were failing to get a critical contract signed. No one wanted to invest the time to put all the stakeholders on a plane. But when the company did approve the travel, the face-to-face meeting sealed the deal in a single hour. In another instance, a global organization wanted to hold an all-hands meeting, but travel costs and time zones got in the way. The solution was to kick things off with a video conference, after which the U.S. staff kept going and the European staff reconvened the next day. The resulting “one-day” meeting spread over two days kept everyone feeling connected with the company and their home geographies, without casting any group as second-class citizens.

If you manage a global service delivery network, you should never be satisfied to hear yourself say “we can’t do that in Argentina” or “we can’t find that kind of person in Indonesia.” It’s time to evolve. Because your competition can and will.

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