Deloitte and Egemin
In control at Egemin
“I like open and clear communication,” declares Geert Stienen, CFO of Egemin Automation. “It’s my style.” When Geert had to find a new corporate controller he was crystal clear about the attributes the candidate should have. “It was a long list,” he admits. He decided to contact Deloitte ACS - and it looks like he got what he wanted.
Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I studied business economics with a specialisation in operational management and logistics. But my first job was in finance as an auditor. Later on during my career I redirected my skills and expertise towards corporate restructurings.
How long have you been with Egemin?
I started here in April 2008. Egemin went through a turnaround in 2008 where my experience proved to be a strong asset. As CFO I’m responsible for the finance department, administration, legal matters, and together with the CEO, strategy.
What challenges caused you to seek outsourcing support from Deloitte ACS?
Soon after I arrived at Egemin the corporate controller decided to leave the company. I didn’t want an exact replacement because I needed some different and additional skills. I wanted a fast response and good quality, someone professional who I wouldn’t have to train.
By outsourcing the position I could also mitigate risk. If I hired somebody directly, and after a few months the person wasn’t good enough, I would have to start all over again. While with outsourcing you say, “I need somebody with these skills,” and if he or she isn’t good it’s easy to find a replacement.
What type of profile were you looking for exactly?
First of all I wanted somebody I could trust, someone with “soft skills”. Trust is very important. I needed someone with experience in controlling, preferably with audit experience. Someone who knows what a balance sheet is, what a profit & loss statement is, what the relationship between these two is, what management needs to see in their analysis and reporting, and who can set up good reporting.
I also wanted somebody willing and able to learn, someone with broad interests. For example, we’re planning to set up a new ERP system. And although it wasn’t the principal thing, it would be even better if the candidate had experience in consolidation.
That’s quite a wish list. How did you find this special person?
Because I used to work for Deloitte I was familiar with ACS and its services. After contacting them and explaining what I was looking for, I did four interviews and selected Hedwig Hulpiau. When I asked her if she knew anything about consolidation she said, “I know something, but I’m not very good.” Actually she was being modest: she is strong. And in Belgium it’s hard to find someone really strong in consolidation. It was a real bonus.
That was in May 2008. How have things gone?
Very well. Because we had a period of overlap there was a knowledge transfer. And we really got the right person. I’m very, very happy with Hedwig. It really is a gain for the company. Another good point is that you don’t see she’s an external person: she really fits in, which makes the team stronger.
What about the future?
I’m not planning to change the contract, I’m happy the way it is. From the start I said I’m not looking for somebody for a few months. I wanted a long-term relationship.
If an organisation is considering outsourcing, what are the most important things to keep in mind?
First of all you need to think about the position. You need to know what type of job it is and its importance in the organisation. What kind of person do you need? What flexibility and skills are required? What about risk? Here’s an example. I needed another controller, but I decided not to go for outsourcing because it would have been too expensive.
Are there some jobs that lend themselves more to outsourcing?
It’s about balancing cost and flexibility. Outsourcing operational jobs could cost you more, but this would provide flexibility. And you don’t have to recruit or train. However, I personally would be more inclined to outsource more specialised profiles.
Anything more to add?
Good communication is very important. When you have an outsourcing discussion, be very explicit about what you want and what you don’t want. I am tactful, but what I’ve learned is, if I have to choose between being tactful and clear, I always choose clear because people appreciate it.
Hedwig Hulpiau: in her own words