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Shared Services Leaders' Lunch

Ambition Malaysia were delighted to host our first Shared Services roundtable luncheon, with centre directors attending from FrieslandCampina, Kimberly-Clark, Stanley Black & Decker, BSI, Atlas Copco, Pall, Quintiq and Air Liquide. Held at the Soleil restaurant in DC Mall, we were treated to some delicious French food, while discussing the current issues and challenges being faced within the sector, as well as sharing knowledge and best practices among the group.

There were some notable points discussed, and it was interesting to see that despite the differences in size and maturity of the centres, there was a degree of consistency in the topics raised.

Competition for talent
This is nothing new in the Malaysia Finance Shared Services market of course, but it certainly doesn’t seem to be showing any signs of abating. There is still a concern about new centres opening in Malaysia with ambitious growth targets and sizeable budgets, able to offer above-market increments to poach talent. There was also a genuine concern that professionals may be stretched too much or put in positions above their capability, and whether this is a sustainable business model in the long run. In terms of retention, centres are looking for creative ways to improve employee benefits and are also taking into account the importance of office environment and how flexible working can be implemented when it comes to attracting and retaining talent.

Identifying the leaders of tomorrow
There were some interesting points raised around ‘talent spotting’ future leaders and developing these people, whilst also focusing on retention. The old adage of ‘what happens if we invest in training our employees and they leave, what happens if we don’t and they stay’ rang true. Each business had a different strategy for identifying and nurturing future leaders; from bi-annual performance reviews, external training courses and investing in professional qualifications for star performers, to encouraging overseas postings for those more mobile to gain valuable exposure to the business in different international locations.   

Implementing Robotic Process Automation (RPA)
This was a major topic of conversation around the table and is naturally very high on the agenda for most shared service centres in Malaysia. The clear message is that this is happening and can’t be ignored, but more importantly, what is the impact going to be on employees and how can this best be managed from a leadership perspective. Undoubtedly in time, some transactional finance roles are going to be taken over by RPA and this will clearly have an impact on some employees. The priority is to ensure everyone is aware, that timelines are clearly laid out, and that the necessary support is given to those affected. Additionally, there may be opportunities to upskill or retrain some talents and certainly, it seems that the introduction of RPA will, in fact, create exciting opportunities for those who are more tech-savvy and willing to step into more business and analytically focussed finance roles.

We would like to extend our warm thanks to all who attended and look forward to making this a regular event where leaders within the Malaysia finance shared services sector can come together and enjoy sharing their knowledge and ideas. If you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in more detail or to indeed the general hiring market within Malaysia, please do reach out to the Finance & Accounting team at Ambition.