Often referred to as shared services, Global Business Services (GBS) has been growing in both size and importance in Ireland with over 200 companies employing over 40,000 people. Against this backdrop, GBS organisations play a vital role in enabling digital transformation strategies for enterprise. Skillnet Ireland and our 70 Networks champion innovation in enterprise-led workforce development and play a vital role in maintaining a supply of the future skills required for the growth of Irish businesses.
The GBS industry is a growth area that requires a pipeline of new talent. Effective training and development are critical in attracting and retaining the key talent needed to sustain this industry in Ireland. A new 2-year MSc in Global Business Services from Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet was designed as part of the Skillnet Ireland Future Skills Programme. Skillnet Ireland Chief Executive Paul Healy acknowledges the growing importance of the industry and the development of this programme, “Ireland has a strong reputation as a location with a highly skilled, and flexible workforce. This Masters programme focuses on accessing the inherent capabilities and empowering and equipping the GBS workforce with the skills required to excel in the changing business services landscape.”
The MSc in Global Business Services was developed through a collaboration of TU Dublin (City Campus) and The Hackett Institute, Skillnet Ireland, IDA Ireland, the American Chamber of Commerce in Ireland, and Technology Ireland and their member companies. Together through an enterprise-led partnership approach, we have crafted a globally unique academic qualification based on leading insights and best practices.
We consulted with some of the people involved in this industry-led collaboration to find out more about the talent challenges faced by the GBS industry, and the ways in which programmes such as the Masters in Global Business Services help address these challenges and the opportunities it presents.
The growing Global Business Services talent pool in Ireland
Ireland ranks number one globally for attracting and retaining international talent, having significantly increased the GBS talent pool over the past number of years. According to Padraic O’Neill, of Pfizer Global Financial Services, “With the youngest population in Europe (33.3% under 25) and 16.5% of our workforce non-Irish, there is an incredible talent pool now available which has led to many large scale companies deciding on Ireland as their location of choice for their EMEA or Global GBS centres. As industry has embraced the local ecosystem, from Universities (like TU Dublin for the MSc in GBS with Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet) and the different professional bodies, we’re continuing to enhance and increase this talent pool”.
Tackling current challenging times requires robust GBS structures
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in many companies having to test their business continuity plans and may now be looking at how they can improve their processes and do things differently. This has given rise to a marked trend towards the prioritisation of transferable skills, as employers and employees navigate the ‘new normal’. Miriam O’Keeffe, Programmes Director at the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland expands on this, “The recent crisis reinforces the need for global business services, and more importantly for talent that understands and thinks both globally and strategically. There is critical work needed across organisations arising from all that has been learned and, in some instances, found wanting – across supply chain, IT, compliance, finance and the movement of money. Human resources and the management of talent has been turned on its head and solutions to the new world of work will have to be ‘imagined’ by visionary global thinkers.”
In the context of the GBS environment, Paul O’Reilly, Head of School of Management, College of Business, TU Dublin – City Campus, highlights that as well as having the hard technical skills required for GBS, “We are finding that GBS organisations are looking to develop people who are agile to work across the organisation and have the skills to deliver purposeful innovation and improvement in all aspects of the business. This means areas like innovation and creativity are becoming more important, but there is also a requirement for effective personality and leadership.”
Addressing emerging skills needs and challenges
Although the GBS industry is quite well placed by their experience of operating remotely to play an important role in the new working environment, reskilling and transferable skills are still of great value to the industry. Pat Brennan, CFO, Novartis Global Service Centre, Dublin points out, “Greater emphasis needs to be placed on the faster development of data and digital, agile and design thinking, coaching and facilitation skills to ensure organisations are well placed to deal with current and future challenges. The GBS industry needs to continue its journey to embed digital technologies to drive operational excellence, integrate end-to-end processes, data and platforms, use AI and Machine Learning technologies in state-of-the-art solutions and generate further insights which can support decision making in its organisations.”
Ultimately, GBS organisations who prepare for the new world of work and potential crises will reap the rewards. Miriam O’Keeffe understands that upskilling adds immense value to individuals and businesses alike, “The opportunities and challenges have never been greater but the rewards for those who develop and grow in this era I believe will be correspondingly prodigious. I would recommend seizing the chance to do the MSc in Global Business Services and be seen to both add, and look to add, value to my organisation – nothing demonstrates intent and commitment like broadening your horizons through education”.
Retaining and developing talent: MSc in Global Business Services
It is well documented that learning and development is essential in creating, motivating, and retaining high-performing professionals and teams. Padraic O’Neill, of Pfizer Global Financial Services, believes that, “Our greatest resource is our talent and investing in staff is a fundamental strategy to retaining and developing that talent. When deciding on investments, we look at the content, relevance, catering for colleagues to develop and grow while learning and enhancing skills. Ideally getting exposure to leading practices and peer learning from the best in the GBS field. I believe that the MSc in Global Business Services ticks all these boxes and more. Ireland is very privileged to have the first and only MSc in Global Business Services, anywhere in the world.”
The Technology Ireland ICT Skillnet MSc in Global Business Services is designed to address these needs and to offer an accredited professional development pathway to support industry, as well as provide opportunities for talent development. The programme is aimed at senior managers, centre managers with team lead responsibilities or those preparing for such a role. It is grounded in expert knowledge and provides in-depth training on the key activities and skills required to run single or multi-functional teams within a GBS environment.
Amy Cole, Novartis Global Service Centre in Dublin highlights the benefits of participating in the programme, “Personally, I have gained extensive knowledge about GBS, that I am sure may have taken years of working in the area otherwise. It allowed me to understand the operational strategy of GBS, and the practical methods and tools that can be applied to achieve efficiency and effectiveness within the organisation. I would say this course is essential if you are a team lead in GBS, and there is also value for team members in newly established teams within the organisation.”
Find out more
Many of our 70 Skillnet Networks are facilitating online webinars and programmes to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Read our recent article which highlights some of these online programmes and use our Network Finder Tool to find the most suitable Learning Network to support your business and your team.