In Brief: Emoke Barabas, ITD Hungary



Following on from a panel discussion at the Shared Services Exchange at the Hague last December, focusing on the various advantages of different service delivery locations, and in advance of an SSON roundtable on the same topic, we’re running a series of short interviews with the panel’s participants aimed at giving a brief insight into the challenges faced by each location as economic crisis turns into recovery. We begin this week by meeting the Deputy Director, Investment Projects for Hungary’s Investment & Trade Development Agency…

SSON: Can you tell us a little about your current role and the kind of work that your organization is carrying out at present?

Emoke Barabas: I joined ITD Hungary (the Hungarian Investment and Trade Development Agency) in 2005, where I had different roles, but always in connection with the service sector. Since 2006 I’m responsible for SSC sector; in 2008 I became Senior Project Manager in 2009 I was appointed to Deputy Director of the Project Management Department for Knowledge-based Industries, responsible for investment projects in the field of R&D, SSC, ICT, logistics, biotechnology, pharmacy.

ITD Hungary is the Hungarian Government’s Investment and Trade Development Agency, [and] operates as part of the Ministry of National Development and Economy. Through its extensive network of contacts in both the public and private sectors, ITD Hungary provides foreign investors with high-quality support for key decision-making processes and a wealth of supplementary services.

Project preparation: 

  • In-depth, tailored information on the local economy and business climate, corporate taxation and the legal environment, as well as sector-specific overviews
  • Site visits, meetings with local, regional and government bodies and introductions to local suppliers, service providers and experts
  • nformation on available incentives

Implementation:

  • Site selection assistance, coordination of license procedures
  • Finalisation of incentives agreement
  • Recruitment and visa application assistance
  • VIP treatment for expatriates

After care:

  • Intermediary role for future developments between government bodies and companies operating in Hungary
  • Support and generation of reinvestments

SSON: How do you see this work having been affected by the economic developments of the last 18 months?

EB: As far as the shared services are concerned, according to my experiences the number of projects in the field of SSC investments have increased during the elapsed year or so, which, in other words, means that we had to perform better and more efficiently then before. It is, of course, partly in connection with the global financial situation: multinational firms were and still are forced to make cost-saving transactions. Shared service centers or outsourcing activities are obvious steps toward achieving this goal.

SSON: Do you think these economic events have led to permanent changes in the shared services and outsourcing space, and if so can you explain a little about what you see those changes as being?

EB: Those companies who were not ready to standardize, harmonize processes and functions earlier are now considering SSC as a possibility. That is the reason why in 2009 we received more inquiries from all over the world and new companies settled down in Hungary. Here in Hungary we can offer them a mature, safe SSC environment, highly educated multilingual workforce for favorable costs compared to US and W-Europe and high quality infrastructure.

SSON: As the recovery gathers steam - we hope! - what do you  think will be the key lessons from the downturn, and the onset of the recovery, which shared services and/or outsourcing practitioners will be taking forwards into the next business cycle?

EB: According to our experiences companies are evaluating to involve high value added activities into SSCs. It is key to see that not only transactional activities are ready for standardization, additional cost savings could be reached but with high quality.

SSON: Do you think the pure captive shared-services model is still viable considering the proliferation of high-quality outsourcing providers currently active in the market?

EB: We still see that companies are investigating to set up captive centers, in 2009 BP set up a SSC in Budapest which will employ over 1000 people. I think there were no changes in this field.

SSON: Finally, what will be your ambitions for your organization over the next twelve months?

EB: In the last months we received more and more inquires in the fields of, for example. automobile, processing and manufacturing industries, electronics, etc. which have been hit by the effects of the financial crisis/crunch. We have to handle these projects simultaneously with those ones in the field of SSCs and BPOs. If the investments will still increase in the latter sectors then we will face an overall boost in our FDI-promoting activities.