SSON's Advisory Board – Q&A with VimpelCom's Chris Gunning
Who are you and what is your role?
I have recently taken up an exciting new role and challenge with VimpelCom, as their Global Shared Services (GSS) Finance Operations Lead. VimpelCom are a leading global provider of telecommunications and digital services headquartered in Amsterdam and serving over 200 million customers. We are embarking on an fantastic new Shared Services Journey, and shall be going live with brand new SSC centers around the globe, in unique locations that may not have previously typically seen Shared Services Centers. Pioneering Spirit in action! Global Shared Services is a fundamental operating element of our new operating model and is a foundation cornerstone of VimpelCom’s transformation journey to become a digital agile player.
What has been the defining moment in your shared services career so far?
Great question. There have been many! Being an enabler for talent development across our SSCs and watching many fantastic individuals rise through the organization, with career advancements, including back into the business and senior roles has always given me the most amazing sense of satisfaction. It is hard to single out a single SSC, as every one of the SSC delivery centers across the globe and our teams I have worked with, has been unique, rewarding and a pleasure – but I think having been involved with building a brand new SSC from day one, in Bangalore, India (with Unisys), and watching it blossom into something large, amazing, moving up the value chain over the years and providing real expertise across multi functions, is something that will stay with me for ever. I also have no doubt there will be new moments like this just around the corner, and am very excited to be part of such an adventure in our new locations, as well.
Where do you see the industry going in the next 5 years?
I believe Digitalization will continue to accelerate and remain fundamental and key to remaining competitive. The rate and pace of change of technology in the current age will make it a different landscape in 5 years. This will likely include, in the initial years, Robotics and RPA, but I think in 5 years time there will be new and emerging tech trends and technologies that we may not even be able to dream of today, and which could take the industry great strides forward. We are going to see significant Digital Innovation and Disruption. I think real time analytics and deep routed business insights will have further evolved to a higher level of maturity, adding value to the business – continuing to ensure the importance of centralized functions such as SSC/GBS being able to harness this data is seen a strategic asset by the CxO suite. However, I still see the key requirement of skills and talent of our Shared Services Professionals as being paramount in how we all operate, as we continue the need to design around these technologies and drive customer service to our clients.
What is your key objective in the medium term?
Given that we are right at the start of our Shared Services Journey, we have much to do on the path ahead. Whilst the initial focus in the short term will be consolidation and centralization of activities from our markets and countries into our new centres, we will very quickly need to reap benefits from global scale by looking at Simplification of Processes; Globalization of Expertise; Driving Continuous Improvement and Best Practices to ensure we achieve stretch productivity and efficiency targets; Driving Significant Cost Savings; and Allowing our Operating Companies to ensure they can achieve even better market focus to drive growth opportunities for our core business.
We need to quickly get the basics right and we understood, from the word go, that we needed to optimize what we have before running too far down the path of RPA and further Digitalization, which is very much on the medium term horizon. I want to ensure we continue to develop our great talent, and equip them for a future world of digitalization and analytics, complimenting their already wonderful technical and functional skills.
What’s your favorite SSO metric/measure and why?
The level of energy one feels in a room that is lit up by hungry, passionate, enthusiastic, empowered, energized and motivated SSC individuals and teams. More times than not, the output reading and dial comes out as ‘one louder’. 11 out of 10 every time! That measurement usually signals the success of an SSO to me, more than any SLA reading or KPI ever will!
What is one tip that you’d share on driving SSO success?
Create a culture within your SSO that will empower, energize and excite your employees and value their skills & expertise, through a shared sense of vision and purpose, that will put customer service at the forefront of everything that they do, so your customers can return happy, time and time again.