Nearshore Americas: Considering iQor’s bullish approach to Trinidad, a small country of just over 1 million people, what kind of recruitment and scaling challenges are you facing there?
Hartmut Liebel: The difficulty in hiring has been similar to other markets, but we have been able to find success through social media recruitment channels. The first challenge was in finding folks who are interested in joining the BPO industry, which is still young in the country. Contrary to other local industries, such as tourism and transportation, which regularly experience ups and downs, BPO is very stable, so we’ve had to find people who are truly motivated
to be a part of the sector.
Young people in Trinidad are truly digital natives. They are tech savvy, active on social media, and have provided a good test bed for us to work with some of our more demanding clients in retail – some of the world’s largest e-retailers.
After some initial hiccups, we’ve finally worked out how to attract people with the right motivation and the right skill sets. Trinidad is the one country where we’ve been able to recruit almost exclusively through social media. When we were opening our second facility there, our social media ads gave us 1,500 applicants in the pipeline within a week, and was hugely cost-efficient.
Institutions like InvesTT, local news media, universities, and the government have also been supportive in getting the word out. We now have roughly 500-600 people and have built capacity to accommodate 1,100 across our two sites. The plan is to end 2018 with 750-1,000 people. Overall we’re confident that the market will support our long-term ambition for 2,000 seats.
Transportation for employees has been a top focus, as infrastructure needed to be improved. This meant that we had to adjust schedules in some cases, to make sure schedule adherence works locally. The country could make more improvements, but we have compensated for that with our own transportation solutions, chartering buses to make sure our workforce shows up and can depart at the right time. My hope is that in the long-term that Trinidad will see this as important change for them to be successful in attracting more players like us to the market.
A vast majority of our leadership has come up through the ranks, rapidly bringing down the ratio of expatriate managers in the company. This is evidence that Trinidad has the ability to develop its own management strengths, which I think is the future of the country. To support this, we have mentoring programs in-house, as well as an
innovative workspace to attract knowledge managers who want to be part of a modern physical facility. Our omnichannel presence and support is getting deeper, again attracting the right knowledge workers. It’s a mix of providing the tools, having the right talent, and having strong communication.