Bogdan Pelinescu, VP ABSL – Interview for Outsourcing Today
In Romania, the Association of Business Service Leaders in Romania (ABSL) is the organization that represents the business services sector in Romania, gathering high profile companies which conduct business in the areas of Shared Services Center (SSC), Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), Information Technology Outsourcing (ITO), Research and Development (R&D), and other companies which contribute to the sector’s growth. The association’s mission is to enhance dialogue and collaboration within the Business Services Sector, to engage authorities and other stakeholders, and to promote Romania as one of the most attractive locations for Business Services.
Outsourcing Today talked to ABSL’s vice-president Bogdan Pelinesu, who is also the Managing Director Central and Western Europe at Luxoft, in order to learn more about this year’s hopes and expectations in the business services segment.
How strong is the voice of business associations in Romania and how big is the impact of ABSL for the local business community?
As the one voice of business services industry, ABSL has accomplished its goals in 2018. We had a major impact in the community thorough the knowledge sharing sessions and the partnership opportunities facilitated between companies and experts. Same as every year, we organized the Annual Conference, the Awards Gala and the 4 Business Mixers (Cluj-Napoca, Iasi, Sibiu and Timisoara). Additionally, the round tables and other informal events fostered industry dialogue and collaboration.
Compared with 2018, we organised more thematic events, as a direct response to our members’ needs. Some of the topics addressed were the benefits of automation, recruitment and growing the workforce potential. Other points of interest worth mentioning were long-term retention of the employees and common challenges on GDPR&Share Services Centres. The positive feedback we received motivates us to maintain this approach.
The Industry Report we launched at the 6th Annual ABSL Conference was further developed. It is now covering more topics than ever before, offering our members meaningful insights in decision making process. We also introduced ABSL Reports, which are studies conducted among our member companies in order to promptly respond to their common needs, as required by the business environment.
Last year we continued to cooperate with authorities, by offering support during meetings with potential investors.
Which are the association’s projects and priorities for this year?
For ABSL, 2019 is about the continuation of the activities and plans started in 2018, but with a new twist, bringing them to the next level. The Round Tables and Workshops will occupy an important place in our strategy. In order to consolidate our leading position in the business services industry we will assess various projects to 2nd and 3rd tier cities to highlight their value for the growing of the sector.
As a result, our traditional events – the Gala Awards, the Annual Conference and the business mixers – will offer the opportunity for participants to stay updated with the best practices and knowledge in the domain. Cluj, Timisoara, Iasi and Brasov are this year’s hot spots for our Business Mixers, where the local business services community meet for the same purpose – find solutions to their common questions.
The Annual Conference, to be held in November, is the most awaited event because it brings together almost 500 specialists and managers in the industry, provides relevant content – especially the findings of the Annual Industry Report. We are also preparing another relevant Report, which will be of use to everyone activating in the business services industry.
Education will continue to be one of our main objectives. The investment in education is important for the growth of the talent pool of specialists in the industry. In 2018, 98% of the first graduates of the Business Services Master programme were employed in the sector. This clearly confirms that investing in education is an essential pillar for the future of the industry.
How does this year look in terms of outsourcing transactions and investments?
Last year we reported a 40% increase in the meetings with investors compared with 2017. This confirms the fact that Romania is one of the most sought after nearshore outsourcing destinations. We expect the trend to continue in 2019, given the number of meetings held so far.
The new comers should be aware that Romania as a business services market has reached its maturity stage. Many companies intend to expand, a decision which is fuelled by the acquisition of new clients or by the diversification of services. Of course, the use of intelligent automation alongside digital incorporation, irrespective of size and type of the company, plays an important role.
What should we expect from the outsourcing industry in the upcoming future?
The Romanian Business Services industry is a mature market which continues to grow. In 2019, companies will go forward with the digital transformation of their business models, in order to remain relevant. We can say that ongoing transformations in the market conditions is the new normal, where technological innovation, blockchain and artificial intelligence are altering the nature of the industry. I believe that this speed of change is imposing a multi-disciplinary approach to business. It should comprise IT services, process expertise, and knowledge of the industry as well as consulting services.
In terms of opportunities, Romania keeps on being attractive both for investors and local companies. Employees have a strong working mind set, solid IT, finance and accounting skills, as well as a good command of foreign languages. The main challenge is given by the frequent changes in terms of public policies.
Which are the hopes and expectations for this year in terms of doing business?
I hope that 2019 will bring more stability, which will encourage the growing trend of the business services sector. Hopefully companies will take into consideration the existing talent pool in 2nd and 3rd tier cities when planning their business expansion.