6 Reasons Shared Services is Such a Great Career

Coca-Cola Hellenic Business Services is a talent incubator second to none – it's launched 101 careers in just 3 years




Mission Possible: Why "101" is a magic result at Coca-Cola Hellenic

Effective career management has been a hot topic for shared services since the model has established itself as a viable and value-adding business partner. And for those who question long term careers, look no further than Simona's article, below, for proof they exist – and are respected..


Wondering what this number means? I am not talking about 101 Dalmatians! I will give you a clue – it is one of the many reasons that answers the question: “Why work in shared services?”. If you are curious to learn more and to find out what stands behind this number, read on ... (and let me know what you think via my LinkedIn😊).

I have more than 15 years experience, in leadership roles across technology and FMCG companies, and for the past 5 years have led the Business Services Organization (BSO) for Coca-Cola Hellenic.

And let me share with you – I have witnessed and facilitated some amazing careers and development opportunities for shared services organization employees. 101 is the number of people from my shared services organization, who got promoted in the past 3 years alone, across the wider organization, in country operations, or other functions.

How is this possible? So, here is reason #1 why to work in shared services.

Reason #1: GROW skills

It is obvious that one can develop functional/professional skills, but I see the main benefit as the opportunity to develop broader management and leadership skills, which are more difficult to acquire in the traditional company structures that tend to become flatter.

Let me highlight some skills which could be developed while working in shared services:

a) Continuous improvement and technology innovation

Continuous improvement is part of the DNA of our shared services organization, and I am proud that in the Coca-Cola Hellenic group we were pioneers in implementing methodologies like Lean Six Sigma and Service design. Working in our BSO, you will always be challenged to improve processes, and to be part of various improvement projects while being equipped with new methods and tools.

The developments in technology are game-changing in terms of how we work, but they can also change the positioning of shared services from a back office transactional routine work place, to an innovation hub, bringing value and competitive advantage to the entire organization. Currently, I have a very young dedicated team working with passion to implement RPA/robots across departments, developing unique capabilities that could be then leveraged for the entire organization!

b) People leadership

We have a very diverse team, multi-national, multi-generational, multi-talented ... and it is developing really fast. Compared to a traditional company, in a shared service organization the pressure to develop leaders at a very young age is really high. Therefore, we are investing a lot in talent development and we have a full basket of different programs and trainings: Fast Forward, Coke Leaders Club, MasterPro for brilliant experts… you name it! At BSO, you can become a people leader at a very young age: our youngest Team Leader is 24 years old – impressive, isn’t it?!

 c) Organizational agility and perspective

Shared services offer a unique environment to gain perspective over the entire organization, across various geographies or various functions. In BSO we are working with colleagues across 28 countries spread over 3 continents: from Nigeria through East and Central Europe, to Russia and Ireland. You also interact with very senior people like CFOs, Procurement Managers, Sales & Commercial Directors, Heads of HR, etc. So, you can understand the cultural or organizational differences and, overall, learn about change management required for successful organizational transformations.

d) Customer service orientation

I like Ron Kauffman’s definition of service as “taking action to add value for someone else”. And the starting point should always be “someone else – the customer”. What do they really need? What would add value to them? – and then work backwards. This is what we are promoting in our shared services organization. We learned that if we do not do that, we cannot be successful as services providers. The usual starting point for a shared services organization is to bring efficiencies and ensure the right governance – but these are just the building blocks. If you really want to be successful and bring value to the core business, helping the business to grow, you need a strong customer orientation. And working in a shared services you are forced to learn to provide a great customer and employee experience!

Reason #2: Career growth

I believe – contrary to many who believe differently – that a shared services organization is an attractive career choice, especially for Finance or HR professionals. Indeed, shared services still has an image problem and culturally not many people would dream about this as a step in their career path! But I think this reputation is soon to be changed.

And yes - you can grow your career, even in an accelerated way and in our case, the 101 success stories are proving that. Of course, there is a fast way to get promoted inside the shared services organization, too, especially in the development stage when there is a rapid expansion of activities by transitioning more processes or servicing more countries. But, the point I am trying to make is that non-conventional moves are possible too! I am thinking of a colleague who used to be an accountant and is now a marketer in the Bulgarian team of The Coca-Cola Company; and many others whom I would invite to share their stories.

Believe it or not, shared services is also a hub for generating and developing new professional roles, some of them having never existed before. Such an example in our company is the newly established RPA implementation team, which is highly motivated to explore new professional horizons in an area that will be defining the future way of working.

Summary

So, let me summarize: One could bring many arguments as to why not to work in shared services organizations. That’s always easy. I acknowledge not everything is beautiful and bright and some of you would say shared services is just a “factory” of routine and transactional activities, a boring daily job with limited opportunities for development.

But my quest today is to look at the bright side and the opportunities.  

I know many of you could share more positive stories and give your perspective of the shared services as a great place to work, learn and grow! Please do!

Editor's note: share your success stories – email Barbara Hodge at barbara.hodge@ssonetwork.com.