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Global Talent, Global Service Delivery

Power Play: A practical, specific action guide in the face of large market trends

Global talent, global service delivery

In this Power Play, Deloitte provides a Service Delivery Transformation perspective on “Emerging market talent strategies” from Deloitte’s Business Trends 2013.

The talent landscape in emerging nations is changing, and service delivery is transforming along with it. Once, multinational employers could staff shared service centers just on the strength of their global cachet. Now they’re competing for more capable, more discerning talent against “native” companies that are just as attractive. Thanks to this new talent, global shared service centers are ready to do more than just take orders. They have perspectives worth listening to in the home office and around the world. Organizations that embrace this change can ask more of their global service delivery functions, extend their brands, and benefit from two-way innovation flows. Organizations that cling to the old model may end up out of touch with their target markets, and they may send trained employees into the arms of competitors.

Transforming how business operates

Forget the idea that mission-critical functions belong in the home office. Organizations that win the right talent in emerging markets can generate value anywhere. That has implications for the way you operate: some companies have already found that by trusting their overseas service teams with more than back-office tasks, they were able to tackle more innovation opportunities without adding headcount. The change has cultural implications as well: when decisions have equal weight whether they come from Bangkok or Baltimore, respect flows in both directions. When you stop encouraging your different centers to compete with one another, silos fall away and mass collaboration takes root.

Why act now?

Every day that an organization accepts less than full participation from its shared service centers in emerging markets, it pays an opportunity cost in innovation and value-added activities that it doesn’t have the capacity to address. And finding the staff to run service delivery this way means recruiting them before your competition does.

What to do

What not to do

Know what matters to the people who matter.
Compensation, workplace, and recognition are important considerations when creating a talent strategy—but the rules about them change from place to place. For example, highly sought-after service personnel in India are likely to value titles and hierarchy, while their counterparts in China may place more emphasis on benefits and family support. In Russia and Brazil, you’ll balance the high labor costs of major cities with the fact that a majority of professionals want to live there. Working from home—in vogue in the United States—may feel wrong to someone in an emerging market that values the prestige of a modern workplace and participation in a community.

Don’t make the relationship one-sided.
When offices are ten time zones apart, every call is inconvenient for someone. When it’s time for some face time, someone has to spend a day on a plane. Don’t arrange everything on the home office’s schedule and make everyone else conform. Instead, rotate the arrangements, and share the inconvenience.

Commit the time in-market.
Working with top talent in a faraway locale starts with moving people in for the long term so that they can understand the market and build relationships with the local people you’ll depend on. You can’t parachute in as the visiting dignitary from the home office, set up a service delivery operation in an emerging country, and expect excellence from it when you get home.

Don’t scrimp.
If the leadership of a service delivery operation isn’t invited to a global, regional, or leadership meeting because “there’s no budget for you to attend,” the message is clear—and demoralizing. Two-way channels of respect and innovative contribution can be expensive to maintain across a global network, but the cost of letting them break down can be even greater. Webcams and speakerphones can only do so much.

Choose the right leadership.
Credibility runs both ways. The parent organization wants to know the person who oversees service delivery is capable and accountable—someone people can count on from thousands of miles away. But the people who work in that shared service center need that same person to demonstrate genuine understanding of what makes them tick, both professionally and culturally.

Don’t make cost-effectiveness the focal point.
Placing service delivery functions in emerging markets started as a way to spend less money. Now you have to think of it as a way to make more money, thanks to the value more talented staffs can create. You’re doing this to make everything more efficient—not just cost, but also the way people share ideas and get things done. You aren’t using these markets. You’re growing into them.

Matt Szuhaj
Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP
+1 415 783 4268

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.

As used in this document, "Deloitte" means Deloitte Consulting LLP, a subsidiary of Deloitte LLP. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

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