Jamie McBrien – Vast Outsourcing Experience in the Philippines
In this podcast episode, Derek is joined by James McBrien, He is an Australian national who founded OptiBPO. Derek will tap into Jamie’s 20+ years of blue-chip outsourcing experience and his views about outsourcing in the Philippines.
- Jamie has worked in India, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and South America.
- He said that his focus now is definitely the middle market. He is also more than pleased to be away from the multinational large-end of town.
- Jamie believes the Philippines is the only choice for knowledge-based outsourcing.
- He thinks if you’re rushing to the bottom for the lowest cost it’s a self-defeating argument. The Philippines is already low-cost. It will give you big savings over your home country.
- People don’t realize that and when they look at the businesses that are there, how big the outsourcing market is, they will be able to attract and get the right talent that has the right experience.
- In 5 or 10 years time, Jamie truly believes the world will be a much better place and a lot of that comes from some of the activities that they are working with their clients
- The Philippines is a large English speaking country, the education system is great and it is a highly innovative country.
- The Philippines is part of the 10th fastest growing economy in the world.
- 10 years ago, in the Philippines, if you want to hire someone, you would have to hire a Filipino and repurpose them into the western business market.
- [email protected]
Derek: Hi and welcome to another episode of the Outsource Accelerator podcast. This episode is number 97 so we’re approaching the 100 episode mark which is exciting. Today, I’m joined by Jamie McBrien, he is the founder of optiBPO, we have spoken to Jamie previously in episode 88 and 91 so if you want his backstory if you want to see us dig deeper into optiBPO and what it can offer you then please do. Today we speak more broadly about outsourcing because I really want to tap into Jamie’s 20 years plus of blue-chip outsourcing experience so there’s a lot of value in here but also it’s a little bit lighter we’re chatting about business generally, the Philippines generally, so I’m sure you get a lot out of this. If you want to get in touch with Jamie or get any of our show notes then go to outsourceaccelerator.com/97. Enjoy.
Derek: Welcome back everybody. Today again we’re joined by Jamie McBrien we’ve had the pleasure of speaking to Jamie twice before so I encourage you to go back and listen to those episodes. He has a huge amount of insight and experience in outsourcing but thank you very much for joining me again, Jamie.
Jamie: Yeah thank you, Derek. Thanks for having me.
Derek: And first of all just for those who haven’t listened to the earlier episodes can you introduce yourself and your sort of multi-decade experience in outsourcing.
Jamie: Thank you, Derek. Well, I’ve been around the outsourcing market for over 20 years probably from the early stages worked more data entry focus. Start off my career at Pricewaterhouse then before the PricewaterhouseCoopers then Lloyds for a number of years where I look after the shared services in outsourcing practice before I left to move to a global consultancy before building my own practice from 2008 onwards with a business partner that we built out from since then. OptiBPO there was a sister company in 2014 the intent of optiBPO was that while we’ve always done outsourcing offshoring and shared service build we thought there was an opportunity to build a more product price offering really help clients plan to build and manage dedicated teams in the Philippines with the sole focus in the Philippines so that’s a kick off in 2014 and the difference for us is that we provide the onshore layer in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK to help support our clients success in building those offshore teams so we’re the key point of contact in creating clients offshore success.
Derek: So you were working for these you know the big 4 management consultancies you were dealing with the big top end of town in terms of clients, I assume there would have been utilizing outsourcing on a global level so I assume they would have had redundancies or so many offices and outpost in all of the major outsourcing capitals is that right?
Jamie: Yeah look I’ve done work in India, Vietnam, Malaysia, China and bits of South America all over the place in helping those bigger end of town and their outsourcing strategies now my focus is definitely back towards the middle market and I’m more than pleased to be away from the multinational large end of town.
Derek: So why did you end up setting up in the Philippines cause it’s closer to Australia, closer to home or are there other strategic advantages there?
Jamie: I honestly believe the Philippines is the only choice for knowledge base outsourcing and I’ll differentiate that from maybe some IT specific type outsourcing but for knowledge process based outsourcing I think it’s the only choice I don’t think there’s much of a need to do a selection, it’s the 3rd largest English speaking country in the world, there are 90 Million English speakers in the Philippines compared with the 60 Million in the UK so it’s a large English speaking country. The education system is great the 3 to 4 hundred thousand University graduates a year and a highly innovative country in terms of engagement with the new economy, new technology social media recently I was reading actually the Philippines is now the 10th fastest growing economy in the world which is pretty impressive given it’s not coming off a poor base as a second faster growing in Asia even with all of this factors and high level of government support costs seem to be well under control there as well. Places like India we’ve seen cost increase exponentially over time and that doesn’t seem to be happening in the Philippines.
Derek: It’s interesting I mean I preach all of this to everyone you know and I have this outsource consultancy and maybe it’s a little bit bias and one sided by just based to tell people to come to the Philippines maybe it’s a little bit convenient because I’m sitting in Manila but there’s a lot of really sensible arguments for the Philippines isn’t there and some people go and seek out the new frontiers you know there’s even outsourcing in West Africa but you can maybe save 20% more but you don’t have the infrastructure, you don’t have the support, you don’t have the 20 years of dedicated experience from the country it’s really quite a perfect storm for outsourcing isn’t it? you know everything is kind of coming together in the Philippines.
Jamie: Yeah look our clients always get shocked once we start sourcing for teams and we start sharing resumes with them. The resumes that we come across will be someone that got 10 years experience working for an Australian, US or UK business and when you get them on the phone, has understands localism and able to joke with you is culturally aligned and gets along with you and I have local clients who want to speak for someone here in Australia or the UK and that’s definitely the case for the Philippines. I think if you’re rushing to the bottom for the lowest cost it’s a self-defeating argument. The Philippines is already low cost it will give you a big saving over your home country but it will also attract and retain the right sort of talent that will ensure your strategies and success. For me, all that other people rush off and be the bleeding edge in Cambodia or parts of Africa those countries have got a long time becoming. I’ll come back to those in 10 to 20 years once they even start to show some signs of success but they are all a long way off.
Derek: yeah and the same place to the Philippines isn’t it you know people are kind of pushing out into the provinces and the Philippines absolutely needs to promote that because they’re getting jobs out where they’re most needed and they’re developing the population but really people out there with their businesses it’s better to go with the big cities, the big hubs because that is where all the executive experience lies that’s where all the best infrastructure and you know when you’re already saving such a huge amount you don’t need to save that extra 10% so then, do you?
Jamie: No and look everyone gets blown away when I speak to them that the Philippines has a 110 million people and that always shocks people that don’t know that and then when I tell them that Manila has 22 Million people and it’s the dense populated greater city area in the world. Again, people don’t realize that and when you look at the sort of businesses that are there how big the outsourcing market is you are able to attract and get the right talent that has the right experience. 10 years ago in the Philippines, you would have to hire someone, you would have to hire a Filipino and repurpose them into the western business market. Now you are hiring Filipinos that all they know is the western business market and so a lot of been in the market just as much as I have or just as much as you have and so there’s no need for that retraining or repurposing so as I said upfront you know the cultural line of piece makes it so much easier to communicate and to manage
Derek: It’s huge isn’t it? I mean the Philippine government wavers a little bit in terms of educational standards and I think recently that reduced the level of English in the schooling which has been controversial but I don’t have any concern for that because majority of kids now they’re growing up on a diet of YouTube and western media you know tv series, basketball, and even pizza and they’re actually going to learn everything from their iPad and the benefit especially with more of the kind of information based services they’re all learning from online forums from Youtube videos and they’re kind of learning from the same resource now as the kids are in Silicon Valley so it’s really leveling out the playing field isn’t it?
Jamie: Yeah, if we bring it back to a really low level or younger level I have a 6-year-old daughter and my trip up there in July for a week, I decided to take her with me. Really nicely one of the ladies that works for me had arranged for her to spend time in a Filipino school for a couple of days. My daughter is a little bit nervous and went along with “do they speak English?” and I said yes, she said “would I be able to understand them?” Yeah absolutely, she had a fantastic time, she taught me through what it is that she talked to them about she said the same thing as my friends in Australia, it was mainly frozen, the Disney movie and some other toys and other things such as that. The world is global, children are global that was a 6 year old that she was dealing with in the Philippines, she’s become friends with them they became pen pals writing letters to each other and that’s the youth of the Philippines growing up and that’s what’s coming through but that goes the whole way up from my 6-year-old like my daughter to the 30 year old that works for us.
Derek: Yeah everything is super global now isn’t it which I think is a huge boom and a huge opportunity for these developing countries. There’s now more of a meritocracy in that you know you can get on upwork and if you can do the job better then you’re going to get the job instead of the guys sitting in New York and it’s now meritocracy based suppose to where you’re born or what town you’re sitting in or what university you went to, its really quite exciting possibilities for the developing nations now isn’t it?
Jamie: Yeah I always talk now that you know in 2017 knowledge is global you know there is no blockers it doesn’t matter how much the governments try to put up protection as policies via free-trade or other means, you cannot stop the flow of knowledge and you can’t stop the fact that we are arising to the same level you know we’ve all gone to similar universities, we’ve all read the same textbooks, we’ve all heard the same people on youtube talking on a certain topics, we’ve all listened to podcast such as this you know. Everyone is rising up to the same level and that’s definitely evident in the sort of skill sets and capabilities the way hiring, you know 5 years ago it was procedural transaction, now we’re hiring people that doing much higher value activity or more strategic work for one of the better word and you can just see that skill set and that capability rising as every year and every month goes pass.
Derek: I find it intriguing actually that I don’t know if you know about geopolitics and geotrade but historically countries have always put up borders and they’ve always protected their own industry which they need to do and they protect manufacturing by taxing stuff at the border and they protect service provision by managing migrational labor flows and obviously stopping people at the borders but these modern services where they’re delivered through the internet and you know UK company can effectively proxy import a hundred employees into the UK but they’re still sitting in the Philippines. The government really have to rethink what their protection strategies and do you think that the governments will try and evolve to try and control this, I mean certainly Trump is making noises isn’t he but can it even be done?
Jamie: Yeah look, I don’t think it can even be done and that’s why I just find it laughable with this protectionist attitude that you sit here in places like Australia where I live and they talk about income equality and then in the same breath they talk about protectionism. If you want to take incoming equality head on you need a global basis and if you look at Australia the bottom 5% of wage earner earn more than 95% of the Philippines, so we have this local issues and protectionist attitude, people use them selectively to suit their own needs and means and known arguments of the times so I don’t think governments can stop it I think the train has left the station that’s run away and I think it’s a great thing for the world because as I’ve said I think everyone is now moving up to a similar level and overtime that will only become more so
Derek: Yeah it’s a difficult argument isn’t it and I get a bit of resistance and kick back when we do our promotional stuff but it’s difficult for people to protect their own income and livelihood and which of course they are entitled to do and they should do but and then the rest of the world is starving, there’s still a billion of people under a dollar a day and you know this is really going to level things out the western world there will be a little bit of kind of wage and salary rebouncing but also the western world is going to evolve and it’s always going to be more developed because it has that kind of hundred year head start isn’t it you know it’s a kind of tricky subject going forward.
Jamie: People use to horse and all of a sudden the car came along. People have always had to change what it is that they do and what you need to do in Australia in the next 5 years to have a career and earn income is going to be different what you need to do in the Philippines the job mix is different, what you do is different. The fact is that all of us have the certain market and we need to understand the world is evolving and we need to get on that ship because they way the world is evolving through information and communication and knowledge transfer all in all as much as some of us sit there some direction to the world is going. In many respects, we never had lives as good as what we have now. The people around the world haven’t, the people developing nations haven’t and so we need to get on that train and support it because in another 5 or 10 years time I truly believe the world will be a better place and a lot of that comes through some of the activities that we work on with our client and where the world is heading.
Derek: Yeah overall on the macro level there has always been a positive influence on the quality of living haven’t there, we’ve very rarely regrets in terms of the net effect on a lifestyle so there’s certainly a lot of evidence to fuel positive and optimistic about the outcomes.
Jamie: Yeah absolutely and look I get excited each time I come up to the Philippines and I see each time new ideas, new innovations. I learn more things, I get more ideas and that invigorates me and I see the same in my clients that they get up there particularly when a client you know who already set up a team a new employee comes in and they see it as an offshoring is a data entry, back up house sweatshop and get up there and realize that is none of those things anymore it’s engaged articulate proactive intelligent team that is really looking to help and support their business and they start coming back with their own ideas and that excites me.
Derek: Yeah it’s really quite addictive isn’t it and the key is to get people over here and then they really see the full potential and they see how beautiful the people are.
Derek: Incredible, so thank you Jamie we’ve sort of talked quite broadly today that if people want to get in touch with you how can they do that?
Jamie: My email address is [email protected] or our website is www.optibpo.com which also have contact detail from our Sydney and our London office and we’ve love to hear from you.
Derek: Fantastic and of course all of that will be in the show notes. thanks very much Jamie.
Jamie: Cheers. Thank you, Derek.
Derek: So that was Jamie McBrien again, if you want to hear earlier episodes of him go and check out 88 and 91. If you want any of the show notes then go to our website which is outsourceaccelerator.com/97 for episode 97 and if you do want to ask us anything of course just email us at [email protected] See you next time.