Leaving talent on the table: global operations leaders (Part I)

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Gianni Giacomelli

Business Leader, Digital Solutions

September 26, 2013 - Human Resources (HR) leaders take time to realize the full use of new skills; typically, people are funneled into "more of the same" career paths until someone breaks the mold and shows that there is value in a diverse, more eclectic background. Meanwhile, candidates who are potentially a great fit go unnoticed, and dissuaded from developing new skills because they see the positions that can build them as a cul-de-sac. Everyone loses. 

These days, CIOs, CMOs and even CFOs come more often from line of business. But that doesn’t apply much to operations, and to people who, arguably part of the operations ecosystem, deal with outsourcing and shared services. I often wonder if the sudden emergence of outsourcing and shared services confused the talent strategy of top management. Is experience in processes and operations (i.e., strategizing, designing, transforming, and running operations—especially in advanced, shared environments) really a niche, specialized, functional skill, or is it part of a broader, general management curriculum? Is the management of those functions a procurement-type role only? Should the boundaries between these roles and others in areas such as finance, HR, sales, marketing, R&D, etc. be porous or water-tight? 

This and the next post will discuss three things: the mismatch between the demand and supply in the broad field of operations; the incomplete HR view on the matter; and a possible set of hypotheses for solving the problem in the future, both by providing more candidates to meet the demand and making the prospects of certain cohorts of people brighter—provided they develop the right skills. 

First, let’s discuss demand and supply. Today, it is common to hear complaints, like "we cannot hire enough GBS (Global Business Services) talent" (see charts below excerpted from Phil Fersht’s recent blog and research) or "we do not find many really strategic operations transformation advisors." 

It is also normal to hear professionals with strong experience in these fields wonder where their career will bring them. (To be honest, this is especially true on the client side, since service providers have a more deliberate approach to career progression, at least on their end.)

Even seemingly straight forward paths, such as people’s development from running shared services into performing GBS leadership roles, suddenly may no longer seem obvious as Deborah Kops notes. 

All of this matters tremendously. Just as neglecting the significant talent pools of women reduces talent availability, these roles ought to be better understood to fully leverage them. These are not times in which we can leave talent on the table.