Why did Ingram Micro decide to open an office in Bulgaria?
Ingram Micro's first Shared Service operation, based in Manila, the Philippines, is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. This was setup to service the needs of both the American and Asiapac countries of Ingram Micro. It was in 2011 that Ingram Micro first looked at setting up a similar center here in Europe. Whilst I was not involved in the decision-making process, Bulgaria was chosen over other European alternatives for a number of well recognized reasons.
Bulgaria had a strong international language base, a highly educated work force, a good geographical position in Europe, currency stability and a low tax rate all of which are still present today.
What is the role of Ingram Micro Bulgaria's office? Do you plan to expand it?
Back in 2012, Ingram Micro Bulgaria was established as a traditional back office center supporting Ingram Micro Europe. Over the years it evolved to where it is today. A Global Business Services (GBS) Centre that embraces the RPA revolution and is transforming to a value added service to its internal customers across the globe. In this role our aim is to expand our offering and to become a center of excellence in areas such as Data Reporting and Automation Implementation. This is where we see our most valuable expansion in the coming years.
What are the most common mistakes companies make in the present business environment?
We work in a technological world that is rapidly changing. At Ingram Micro, our country operations are in the business of providing technology solutions to meet the customer's needs. The companies who lack the ability to adapt to the changing environment and to change at speed are the ones who will struggle.
As a former Finance Director in the UK and a customer of Ingram Micro Bulgaria how is the outsourcing world changing in Bulgaria?
As a regular attendee at local networking events and industry conferences, a number of common themes continue to develop. Firstly, the traditional SSC founded on simple transactions and a drive to reduce costs has now evolved into a multi-function services center where the customer is looking for better value-added services and solutions. This evolution can play to Bulgaria's strengths due to its strong educated workforce. A second development linked to the first is the use of intelligent automation which continues to grow in both its use and its sophistication. If we are to grow the value-added proposition our customers desire, we need to use Robot Process Automation (RPA) in order to reduce the amount of transactional low level skilled work. These represent but two of the many changes taking place in our sector and why Bulgaria will continue to be at the heart of these transformational changes.
At what phase of transformation is Ingram Micro Bulgaria?
Ingram Micro Bulgaria has grown in seven years to manage 300K SKU’s, +45B Euro of Invoices and support nine different languages to name but a few of our headline metrics.
Our current Horizon 2020 Strategy aims to position us as a Service Centre of excellence alongside our sister operation in Manila. As a part of this change we have established global process owners for Digitization and Application Management, Reporting & Data Analytics, Service and Delivery Excellence and Business Process Management. As MD of the Sofia operation my role is to maintain the operational excellence of our centre whilst transforming it with the support of these global functions.
The work environment within modern companies is changing i.e. millennials, heightened staff engagement, Diversity & Inclusion, CSR focus and emphasis on short term career development. How is Ingram Micro addressing these challenges?
We recognize all these evolving traits at Ingram Micro Bulgaria. As part of our Horizon 2020 Strategy we have established a number of programs with the objective of facing these challenges which we see as great opportunities.
One of the key activities is the establishment of IM Engaged. This branded four-pillar concept covers Corporate Citizenship, Diversity & Inclusion (D&I), Career Development and Rewards & Recognition and runs throughout the organization. CSR activities under corporate citizenship include volunteering, a new 'bikeathon' event, blood donation and many other activities throughout the year supporting local good causes. This culminated in IM Bulgaria recently winning the Martha Ingram Team award for our work in this area. As part of the D&I activity we actively participate in various events linked to breaking down the barriers of discrimination. This includes our partnership with Jamba who recently visited our offices to share the impacts that such barriers can make on a person's life. As a part of the Career Development initiative we launched our global GBS program, the Leadership Academy, where all levels of the company have an opportunity to participate in a number of training and educational programs to boost their professional development and advancement of career.
Under the same banner we also hosted a successful new career event where we invited both internal staff and external candidates to visit and ask each area of our business what can it offer in terms of new career opportunities. The fourth and final pillar, Rewards & Recognition, continues to develop and evolve as we look to new and inventive ways to reward good, innovative and inspiring talent in the support of our many stakeholders.
Training future leaders to succeed
A thriving business is a business who knows how to attract, develop and keep its talents. Eva Makedonska, HR Director at Ingram Micro Bulgaria, shares more on how to make the most from a competitive market.
What is the essence of your Leadership Training Program? Who is it for?
The essence of our leadership program is the people and their desire to progress and develop in our company. We help them with truly first-class curriculum from world recognized institutes. Nevertheless, their professional experience and exposure to the business remains the most important part of the development. For that purpose, we also have designed practices specifically for our environment.
What makes your educational programs different from the rest of the crowd?
We have invested a lot in people's personal development and emotional safety. We pay attention to the soft skills and always try to uplift our culture of acceptance and empathy. Additionally, we do support Diversity and Inclusion, as we want to embrace more innovations in the company. Having the same type of people is leading ultimately to the same kind of thinking, so our goal is to have diverse teams. In INGRAM we encourage people to bring their entire self to work.
What qualities and qualifications you see as crucial for the modern professional to succeed?
People should be interested and engaged in studying. For me, there is nothing crucial that can't be compensated after school or university if a person is committed to succeed. I'll put more emphasize on planning our development and being active participants in our professional life. The second important step is how to communicate and behave in order to get there.
My advice for a successful career would definitely include STEM skills. We are living in the 4th Industrial Revolution and people involved in technology will have safe and prosperous jobs.
What is your Talent Management strategy in terms of professional development of your employees?
Our talent management strategy has 2 main directions: operations readiness and professional development. Those concepts evolved in 2018 into our Leadership Academy (LA), a master program that engages equally Sofia and Manila L&D and Operational teams. They exchange best practices, leveraging the training capabilities and creating together a training and on the job curriculum in accordance with global strategy and local needs.
The content engages various topics important for business and personal growth. The program starts with the individual annual performance review, where we can distinguish our best talents and get them into the core of the program Emerging Leaders.
About 200 individuals from Bulgaria alone are engaged in blended learning approach for minimum 8 months. The second layer of LA participants are our Team Leaders, and that structure engages the rest of the management to director levels. With every layer learning from the previous one we are sure that we are foundering the same knowledge and culture across different levels in the organization.