This article was originally posted in Manila Bulletin (mb.com.ph). You can view this article on its original source here : http://www.mb.com.ph/a-business-to-be-proud-of/
A business to be proud of
SCOTT STAVRETIS Chief Executive Officer ACQUIRE BPO
by Bernie Magkilat
January 26, 2016
True to its name, Acquire BPO has not only grown organically but its growth has been complemented by strategic acquisitions of existing BPO firms.
Reflecting on the past year, Australian CEO Scott Stavretis steers the company’s calculated growth not so much on numbers but on quality of service and the value it can provide to clients.
Scott is building business he can be proud of.
This business was originally set up as a captive environment in response to the lack of high-quality offshoring providers. Acquire has since evolved into a full-scale outsourced contact center and BPO with exponential growth year on year.
Acquired has exceeded growth projections with total revenue for 2014 at approximately AU$100 million, which was a 49 percent increase from 2013 revenue. It expanded globally implementing a roadmap encompassing technology, diversification of service offerings and operational standards.
Acquire also launched a strategy in the US with the opening of the office in Dallas, Texas to provide clients with local executive, sales, project management and account management support and a near-shore delivery center in the Dominican Republic to service the bilingual English and Spanish markets.
Already, the company has expanded to 12 state-of-the-art facilities in Australia, the Philippines, the US and the Dominican Republic with 7,000 employees
Acquire acquired Animation1, a 3D visualization company, and SHORE Solutions, a leading Philippine BPO, expanding the service offering into new verticals by leveraging synergies from the core expertise, infrastructure and facilities in the Philippines.
These acquisitions boosted its Philippine operations from 3,000 to 7,000 people and 9 sites in Metro Manila.
“We have opening for 600 more people,” says Stavretis.
They just don’t acquire other businesses for profit or raise its headcount.
“If it is the right opportunity and it complements our existing business then we continue to acquire,” says Stavretis.
Stavretis explained that the name Acquire BPO was not meant to imply a business model, but it was a name they retain when they acquired the company.
So far, Shore Solutions is its biggest acquisition that really complements its range of products and services providing unique experiences and solutions for clients.
“We have skills and the Shore business has clients. We bring the business together. Clients are extremely happy because they are part of the acquisition agreement,” says Stavretis.
The acquisition has built the capability and strengthened the operations of Acquire BPO.
“It brought in an influx of new management and new thinking and the way we do business. Combining that and people we get the best of both worlds,” he adds.
With this strategy, Acquire BPO has become a dynamic organization.
Aside from organic growth, Stavretis said that acquisitions have become a big part of its success.
EMPLOYER OF CHOICE
For 2016, Stavretis has lined up several activities and goals for the year and years to come to sustain growth.
Stavretis, who is based on Australia, even extended his stay in Manila to be able to participate in the annual kick off party. This year’s starter party is a big time event for all company employees who will converge at the SMX Convention Center to ensure all of them can fit in.
It will be a star-studied event to be graced by celebrities from the entertainment industry. Movie actor Luis Manzano will be hosting the event.
The kick-off party is just the start.
According to Stavretis, the ultimate goal of the company is to become an employer of choice in the BPO sector.
“We have initiatives as we aim to become an employer of choice,” says Stavretis. One way is by engaging company employees.
Stavretis expects further growth for the business. It is not customary for the Australian-owned BPO company to share or set financial targets, but hopefully Acquire could hit 10,000 people, but there is no timetable for that.
“Everything we do is meant to make our clients happy. We have a steady stream of clients as we become part of our clients’ vision and mission,” says Stavretis. With that, he says, they would be assured of organic growth.
“We want to be part of our clients’ growth,” says Stavretis as he noted there is no amount of marketing that can vouch for the company’s performance but the testimonials from its clients.
“We want to continue our strengths,” adds Stavretis, who led the global expansion of Acquire and drove multiple-digit growth in three years.
Its Australia headquarters would be able to further strengthen the Philippine operations become more effective and efficient in servicing its clients.
Assured of its growth, Stavretis does not see Acquire going public. The company does not need external funding. It can continue its strategic plan without dilution of control.
With the acquisition of Philippine-based BPO firm Shore Solutions, Manila has become its major hub accounting for 80 percent of its total operations. Acquire BPO has 9 sites in Manila.
In addition, 80 percent of its Philippine operations is geared for the Australian market. The rest is for the US and a small Philippine market. But it aims to increase its US presence to be able to maximize its floor space.
Since the time difference with Australia is only a few hours away, Stavretis said they have to push for more US clients to maximize its operations in Manila.
“We have a lot of spare capacity during the day so it is perfect for us to get more US clients,” he adds.
“We are building ahead because we have strong sales pipeline,” says Stavretis, who still prefers to continue expanding in Metro Manila.
The company, however, is scouting for potential site in Cebu. It is looking at Cebu as some sort of a disaster recovery center.
“We have no decision yet but it’s in the cards,” he adds noting that wherever they open a new site they would like to ensure it can deliver quality service.
Should the Philippine hub continue to deliver quality services, Stavretis sees moving its entire finance functions from Melbourne to Manila in three and a half years.
“This means bringing our entire finance teams to set up here,” says Stavretis. Acquire BPO has 35 finance team in Melbourne.
If there is one thing that Stavretis would like the BPO companies in the Philippines to develop is the capability to go multilingual.
The Philippines used to be capable in the Spanish language but kind of lost it overtime when the language was no longer required in college. The Department of Education has tried to revive it in the college curriculum but it seemed not to gain traction.
Stavretis said the only reason it is building a new BPO operation in the Dominican Republic is to be able to serve the Spanish-speaking clients. He laments having huge difficulty finding Spanish-speaking talents in Manila to serve the Latin American countries.
“We appreciate it if the Philippine government will include in its curriculum other languages,” says Stavretis as this would strengthen the country’s image as a flexible global BPO hub.
The ability to offer other languages augurs well also for the ASEAN economic integration. So far, Malaysia has some language capability to serve other countries in the region.
The Philippines offers a competitive landscape, a kind of environment that Acquire wants to play.
“We realized that the Philippines is not about labor arbitrage but rather skills,” says Stavretis citing Filipino employees skills in finance, marketing and accounting.
He cited a good pool of workers for legal services making the Philippines a worthwhile hub for BPO operations.
Acquire is also big on training and seeks to inculcate the company’s culture of quality in the delivery of its service.
Stavretis is proud of having a higher retention rate than the industry, which has been plague by high attrition rate.
To keep its people, Acquire promotes hands on management and a personalized culture with an open door policy.
It offers extensive medical coverage to employes and families.
“The benefits we provide are not just salary but extra benefits that are above industry norms,” says Stavretis.
“We try to embrace our employees and we’re doing very well in that area. We are able to attract more and better candidates,” says Stavretis.
By creating that sense of belongingness, employees are motivated to contribute more.
Stavretis, who had been to several countries and managed or worked with other nationalities, has described managing Filipinos as a pleasure.
“Philippines is a pleasure because Filipinos are passionate, people come to work and want to be part of it, part of the journey,” notes Stavretis, whose first contact center in the country was located along Shaw Boulevard.
“I have done business across the globe, but definitely there are so many happy faces here and that is not without challenges. We have the best of people,” says Stavretis.
Stavretis, who started in consumer technology electronics business, said that Filipinos can easily understand.He could only surmise that the general culture among Filipino workers is their hunger to learn.
“Filipinos understand that more than the graphs and matrix, they have to understand how they can help Acquire clients. So there is a big difference and clients can see that,” says Stavretis.
“This is a perfect culture for effective management. We could only bring out better results,” says Stavretis, who visited Manila 10 times last year.
As a leader, Stavretis is more inspirational. Stavretis, who does not concentrate on KPIs (key performance indicators), was pivotal in the growth of Dodo into the largest private telecommunications company in Australia with nearly AU$350-million revenue. He transformed Dodo from a consumer telecommunications provider to a national consumer brand and positioned Dodo as a first mover with the formation of Dodo Power & Gas, Dodo Insurance and Dodo Security, providing a diverse offering of utilities and services from one provider to Australian consumers.
“Leadership is more about inspiration, future driven and finding balance,” says the 32-year-old Stavretis, whose executives are more senior than him in the world of BPO.
“I try to be dynamic and I love to challenge people,” says Stavretis.
With operations in four countries, his day is occupied around the clock.
“We should be able to adopt to different working hours, it is challenging from a routine point of view but it not routine for me. It is fun,” says Stavretis.
On days that he is not preoccupied, the young CEO spends quality time with his two young kids. As a family, they travel together trying to engage them rather than just being there.
He did not predict his business to grow this big. He did not even set hard goals, but when he started in 2013, he knew it was the perfect timing for the bpo industry .
What he sees now is a sustainable BPO growth in the country because of the huge pool of good talents.
There are challenges though to improve infrastructure and cure the traffic jams, but the core resources are here for the industry to sustain its growth.
Acquire may grow a thousand more and move its headquarters to the Philippines, but what is more important is they have a business they can be proud of.