interview by Bozhidara Georgieva; photography by Modis

Modis Head of Delivery-Europe and IT Outsourcing, on how to expand a business in 2020

Philippe Rouvrais

2020 is a year that forced almost all businesses of importance to redefine their business model in order to survive and even to grow. The IT outsourcing sector is one of the most interesting cases. A pillar of modern global economy, the field faced challenges such as decreased levels of overall economic activity, but on the other hand was better prepared for working under stressful conditions.

Modis, a global leader in consulting, workforce and skilling solutions that use the power of technology, talent and capabilities to facilitate its clients' success, fared particularly well. A trailblazer, the company's Bulgarian offices did not stop expanding and hiring new people even during the hardest months of 2020. What is the secret of Modis Bulgaria success? We talk to Philippe Rouvrais, Modis Head of Delivery-Europe and IT Outsourcing, the man behind the company's Bulgaria operations, to learn more. Mr Rouvrais is a man with plenty of achievements under his belt; the latest awards to recognize this were the Most People Oriented CEO of the Year 2019 in Bulgaria and People-Focused CEO of the Year 2020, by the international Stevie Awards, which he received this August.

What does IT Outsourcing look like in 2020? What are the main global trends?

2020 is an interesting and unpredictable year. When the year started it was very promising but due to the Covid-19 pandemic the global economy shrank faster than ever before. Almost all countries and business sectors have been affected, and organizations are now looking for stable and trustful partners.

The outsourcing industry was transformed with a major emphasis on building value networks with clients. Building not just a business relationship but a true partnership is becoming key.

We have noticed a strong tendency for organizations to seek for fully managed solutions rather than organizations that supply only the resources. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies to automate processes is also on the rise. This will enable us to manage our workload more effectively, give us the opportunity to re-skill part of our workforce and differentiate ourselves in Bulgaria from other low-cost outsourcing destinations.

How does Modis succeed in the current world? What are the company's major priorities?

Without a doubt Modis success is first due to the hard work, commitment and ability to adapt of our colleagues. Despite the Covid-19 crisis we have never stopped to work closely with our clients and partners, to take care of our people and support them in these difficult times.

Over the past period we have managed to onboard new clients and increase the diversification of our business portfolio. We are now working on further strengthening the partnerships with our long-term clients, expanding our portfolio of solutions to attract new clients.

Of course, we have the firm intention to continue growing in Bulgaria within the next few years. In Sofia there are approximately 60,000 people employed in the outsourcing sector and it is true that we have almost reached the sustainable capacity of the market. This is why we are exploring opportunities for Modis to open new locations in other cities of the country just like we did last year with the opening of our Plovdiv site.

2019 was big for Modis Bulgaria with the opening of new offices and winning a lot of prestigious awards. How do you plan to continue this success in 2020 as well? What are your professional goals?

Last year was indeed an extremely successful year for our business in Bulgaria. Thanks to the efforts and the outstanding results achieved by Modis for the past year, we were recognized as Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year by AIBEST and BASSCOM, Company of the Year in Business and Professional Services for 2019 and Outsourcing Service Provider of the Year by Stevie Awards, and were acknowledged for our Dynamic Development last year by B2B Media.

This year we have managed to maintain our activities at a very good level bearing in mind the effect of the Covid-19 on the economy. Our initial goals, as it is the case for many if not all organizations worldwide this year, have somewhat changed since March 2020. We decided to work to ensure the best level of support to our existing clients whilst taking care of the health and wellbeing of our colleagues. This I must say has been the focus of our organization this year and we are now preparing for 2021 and the following years. For the remaining part of 2020 and for 2021, we will focus on developing our service delivery capabilities, growing our client base and keeping an eye on the sanitary situation.

Unlike many other companies, you continued hiring during the Covid-19 pandemic. Why?

There was no way we could have predicted the Covid-19 pandemic and I believe almost every industry has been affected. However, smart businesses gained from the situation by anticipating certain circumstances and being proactive and flexible. I am happy that we managed to keep delivering our solutions without any interruption after switching to home office for all over 1,400 employees of ours in Bulgaria. Planning for such move started long before the emergency state in the country and before any actual threat for the health of our employees. This gave us the time to complete the process and ensure the continuity of our business. Having accomplished this, we were ready to meet the increasing demand by some of our clients as well as to support other countries within the global Modis organization. For us this meant ongoing hiring process and even growth of our business in these uncertain times. We have managed to hire over 150 people in time when most of the companies were making savings and layoffs thanks to the great organization of our Management and HR team. It was not easy to digitize all our processes but with the right teams and can-do attitude everything is possible.

Here I would like to point out the great feedback given both by our colleagues and our clients for our prompt reaction, safety measures taken and smooth service delivery.

What makes Bulgaria a good place for Modis business? What makes it a better solution than traditionally strong IT outsourcing markets such as Asia, for example?

Bulgaria is traditionally a key location for the IT business of the Adecco Group, starting back in 2004 and now operating under the Modis brand since 2017. We value the availability of highly skilled and experienced human resources with IT and technical background as well as the foreign language fluency that most young people in Bulgaria have. In combination with the geographical proximity to most of our clients in Central and Western Europe, the EU membership and the presence of skilled labor force, the region outperforms some of the other traditional IT outsourcing markets as our primary choice. The sector in the country employs over 70,000 people and results in 4.8% of the national GDP. I am very happy to share that Bulgaria is the best performing IT outsourcing location for the Modis business on a global level and after the opening of our third office location in the country in the end of 2019 we have even greater plans to grow and reach 3,000 employees within the next 3 years. What makes it easier for us to take such a decision and keep investing in Bulgaria, other than the people, are the good relations we have with local governmental and educational institutions in Sofia and Plovdiv that help us attract the best IT talents as part of our team.

What do you like about Bulgaria at a personal level?

I came to Bulgaria for the first time back in 2005 and have seen ever since a country and people taking on an amazing journey. If I remain very conscious that there is still a lot to do in the country for the people in general, I must say that I have learnt to understand better how the Bulgarians are, both in the workplace and in their personal life. In fact, once a relationship of trust is in place, I find the Bulgarians to be very nice, friendly and generous people. I have learnt to discover that they are also very hard working and trustworthy professionals full of ambition and resourcefulness... and let me say that none of these are bad to be! 


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