Under the Spotlight:Shared Services in Latin America
SSON: Mr. Bernal, as one of Latin America's leading beverage companies, exporting across the region as well as North America, Europe and Asia, could you please describe to us FEMSA's shared services operations? How did you decide on where to locate the center and which regions do you service?
Juan Pablo Bernal: FEMSA operates in nine Latin American countries, which are all serviced through shared services centers. We run three Shared Services Centers. First, in Monterrey, Mexico, where we operate a finance center servicing Mexico and part of Central America. Then we have a site in Mexico City, Federal District, which provides HR services for approximately 85,000 employees in the region. And finally, in Jacare’, Brazil, from which we provide finance and HR for Brazil only. We chose our locations strategically, to support a change management project underway.
SSON: To what extent is innovation driving your strategy? How does automation play a role?
Juan Pablo Bernal: Innovation is the main strategy that maintains our competitive edge, in shared services. Our main innovations leverage automation, as automation in shared services is the most effective lever for increasing productivity and growth.
SSON: What are some of the greatest challenges you have run into? How have your operations been impacted by the tremendously difficult markets we have all faced?
Juan Pablo Bernal: The key challenge we have faced was to manage the growth of the SSC while at the same time supporting the transformation of the business units we serve. We have been fortunate, however, that the industry we operate in is a 'defensive' one, which has enabled us to limit the impact of the economic crisis.
SSON: Is outsourcing on your agenda? What kind of discussions have you had? If you were to choose this route, would you look to global providers or choose a regional partner?
Juan Pablo Bernal: The scale of FEMSA is such that we are able to operate efficiently with our own resources. Although in the short term we have struck some strategic alliances with key players (banks), we don't foresee evaluating outsourcing options in the short term.
SSON: What is FEMSA's strategy in the medium term?
Juan Pablo Bernal: Our goal in the medium term is to work on demand at 100%. We are working on this strategy. It represents the new paradigm for the SSC.