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How to build a Global buisness services even in times of corona

by Constanze Nusperling, Head of Global Business Services at Avient Corporation


In case you have ever set up a new business unit in your company, you will be aware how time-consuming this can be - especially when the unit is as emotionally charged as Global Business Services (i.e. the further development of traditional Shared Services into a global, multifunctional structure). If on top of that, Corona gets in the way, and you cannot travel anywhere, some out of the box thinking is required to achieve your goals nevertheless.

In 2020, as newly appointed Head of Global Business Services, I had barely taken on my new role of setting up a GBS for my US headquartered employer when the lockdown came.

In this blog, I would like to share some ideas I have successfully implemented since then.

Finding a mentor

Clearly, strong relationships across the whole company are extremely important for an entity like Global Business Services. But what do you do if you are new to the Group and don't know the company culture or the stakeholders involved?

I proactively sought out a mentor to help me. I chose a manager from Finance for several reasons: firstly, with Accounts Payables and Accounts Receivables, Finance is usually a significant internal customer of the GBS services. Furthermore, this manager has already been with the company for ten years. He knows how decisions should be prepared for them to be approved. He is also well networked within senior management and has experience which stakeholders absolutely need to be involved for which topic.

This is very valuable for me right now because I have not yet met any of the decision makers in person.

Speaking up

In the last few months, on several occasions, I have not been invited to important meetings. I assume there were no ill intentions behind this - I was simply not yet present in my colleagues´ minds.

Since then, I have started to speak up much more actively than before. In a large corporation, it is anyway not easy to be visible at the required levels at all times. But when people don´t know you personally and have only met your upper half via video, the challenge is even bigger.

When I am obviously being ignored in an e-mail communication or conference call, I now intervene and correct immediately. The same applies to cases where someone passes off my work as theirs, for instance when the Head of Logistics presents the results of a joint project only under his name.

This is damaging for my unit´s reputation, and I have realized that I that I don't want to let such instances pass anymore.

But I have also taken a new path towards relationship building.

Building relationships

When you only meet with your colleagues via video, a lot of the natural chit chat that comes with a face to face meetings simply does not take place.

That's why I've taken to setting up one-to-one appointments with my most important colleagues. Half an hour once a month is usually good enough. In addition to the business topics, there is room for a more personal exchange, which I enjoy. For example, when the Head of Purchasing recently told me about her daughter, she happened to be crawling into the picture shortly afterwards.

In such sessions, I also learn about the informal things that are ongoing at headquarters: who is fighting tooth and nail with whom about what, what really drives the CFO and which important decisions have recently been taken that will impact the build-up of my GBS.

Preparing for the future

Overall, having to build your GBS unit remotely comes with its challenges. But it can be done. And some "emergency" solutions as described above have even proven to be a good experience.

I wish you all the best for the remainder of the Corona period.

Best regards,

Constanze Nüsperling

P.S.: If you have any questions about GBS, or would like to bounce off some ideas, feel free to send me an email any time: constanze.nuesperling@4cplusm.eu     

Teaser:

In 2020, as newly appointed Head of Global Business Services, I had barely taken on my new role of setting up a GBS for my US headquartered employer when the lockdown came.

My challenges: I didn't know my team or any of the senior management personally, I found myself faced with a completely different company culture, and I could not travel on site. What new ideas did I successfully implement in this situation?

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