Voting is over in the award for the most influential and respected people in the call centre outsourcing industry & I have been shocked by the huge number of votes cast. I have been asked several times why I came up with the idea and it relates to a conversation I had almost a decade ago. A former colleague asked to meet me for a catch up. He’d left the outsourcing industry to work outside of call centres completely and to my surprise, he was offering me an exceptionally well paid job. The job itself wasn’t appealing to me but I asked him who else he was approaching. It turned out that he needed 3 people for similar roles and he was approaching only people from the call centre outsourcing industry even though the role had nothing to do with call centres and nothing to do with outsourcing. Needless to say, I was surprised but he soon told me why his company wanted us and for those of us who have only ever worked in call centre outsourcing, it came as a bit of a shock. He explained that our industry is unbelievably tough. We work in environments which are incredibly challenging. Clients have incredibly high expectations and when we pull out all the strings to hit them, the challenge to hit them again starts the very next day. Things which would often takes weeks or months to set up in a traditional environment have to be done within days but at the same time, we have constant downward pressure on our costs. Our industry goes through rapid changes which would be unimaginable in many industries & with relatively few barriers to entry, the industry is about as competitive as it can get. Then, just as we think we’re doing well, the client raises the level of expectation once again. This industry is tough but every time that a challenge comes along which people say will destroy us, we rise again. Yes, the industry is tough but trust me, we’re doing a good job but because of the environment we work in, we don’t hear it as often as we should. So this award is to help recognise the superb job we do in tough conditions and due to the popularity, I have decided that it should become an annual award.
So with all the votes cast, we now have the top 8 who dominated the voting. Of course, everyone has their favourites and there are many remarkable people in our industry who are not on the list. Hopefully, this award has gone a small way to celebrating everyone who works so hard in our industry. The list is in ascending order to add a little extra excitement with the person with the most votes cast at number 1. Congratulations to everyone!
8. Jojo Uligan (Executive Director – The Contact Center Association of The Philippines)
You can’t have helped but escape the rapid rise in the call centre industry in The Philippines which now employs in excess of half a million people. This is in no small part due to the Jojo Uligan, the executive director of The Contact Center Association of The Philippines (CCAP) and a pioneer of the industry in the country. For what must seem like 11 very long years, Jojo has held this position with CCAP and has helped to transform the industry from mere onlookers to the largest offshore location of contact centre services.
7. Nathan Barton (Head of Client Delivery – Echo Managed Services)
For Nathan Barton, successful contact centre outsourcing is all about designing and delivering a service that helps clients improve their own customer relationships. Nathan has been able to harness Echo’s agility and flexibility to create truly bespoke engagement programmes for customers. By extending what’s possible for clients, Echo has been able to create campaigns that go beyond simple customer contact to enable real change for organisations such as the Department of Health and the RAF.
6. Deanna Giner (VP Operations, Startek)
Deanna’s career in the call centre outsourcing industry started in 1991 in The United States. The past 23 years has taken her from ICT (now Sykes), to IQOR, APAC and now Startek. Deanna is now Vice President of Global Operations with Startek and is based at their highly successful operation in The Philippines. Deanna’s nominations were amongst the most excitable from both employees past & present and also clients.
5. Peter Venn (Independent Consultant)
Most of the people on the top 10 list work for large organisations and can rely on their co-workers for many of their votes. It is therefore a testament to his character that Peter Venn appears so high on the list despite his role as an independent consultant. Peter was one of the very first people I met when I joined the industry and the training sessions he did with me & my colleagues in the early 1990s still inspire me to this day. Peter is one of those people that everyone enjoys working with. His passion is contagious and his desire to get the best out of himself and others is undoubtedly a key reason why he ranked so highly in the voting. As one of the voters said “Peter is the guy you always want on your team”.
4. Martin Conboy (Consultant – Foobooonline.com)
Martin the highest place Australian on the list with a huge influx of votes. Martin, who is the former head of The Australian BPO Association, will be no stranger to people in the industry across Asia Pacific. Known as “The Outsourcing Guy”, Martin runs Sauce Publishing which produces a regular publication for executives in the industry and is a regular speaker at events in Australia & New Zealand. For nearly 10 years, Martin has run foobooonline.com, a BPO facilitation company but his career in the industry in Australia dates back to 1993 when he founded ACA Research and callcentres.net. Martin is still highly active in the call centre outsourcing industry and has helped scores of companies in both domestic outsourcing within Australia and to The Philippines.
3. Alan Graham (Chief Commercial Officer – Mindpearl)
You could be forgiven if you don’t know of Mindpearl. However, if you’re in the travel sector you will almost certainly have dealt with them. Operating from centres in Spain, South Africa, Australia & Fiji, they have slowly but surely been expanding their operations and Alan’s contribution as Chief Commercial Officer has been an important part of this. The company has picked up a large number of awards from associations such as The NOA in recent years and the company is now starting to receive more and more interest from outside of the travel sector. Alan’s 11 years with Mindpearl has seen a great deal of change and his vision and desire undoubtedly means more good things for the company & the wider industry.
2. Humphrey Davis (Consultant at Everything Everywhere)
We all know that we’re in a tough business but there can be few industries harder than telecommunications. If there is ever a call centre graveyard, it will be full of people who have tried and failed in telecommunications call centres. It’s a mature industry with high churn where there is constant pressure from the top to keep customers, win new ones and grow the ones you have. The problem is that all of the competition are trying to do the same thing. With this kind of pressure, it’s no surprise that so many telecommunications companies outsource a huge amount of activity. I take my hat off to anyone who has succeeded in this industry just once but Humphrey has repeatedly done this at a number of companies over many years. From Talk Talk to Virgin Media to EE, Humphrey has proven that with the right personality and sheer determination on the end result, it is possible to succeed over and over again. As we’re always told, this is a results business and Humphrey is clearly the go-to-guy if you want to achieve those results.
Hinchliffe (CEO of Voice)
1. James Hinchliffe (CEO of Voice)
In my opinion, the world of call centre outsourcing needs more “James Hinchliffes”. When I joined the industry over 2 decades ago, it was dominated by entrepreneur run companies and I was lucky enough to work for 3 of them; Martin Shields at SITEL, Bibi Bajwa at Teleperformance & Andrew Pearce at Inkfish. These were people who had founded their companies and were still at the helm after going through rapid periods of growth. They had passion rarely found among corporate executives and this passion was contagious. Since then, the industry has changed and the vast majority of the larger players in The UK are now part of global, corporate entities. Among the few entrepreneur-led UK call centres that are left are Voice in Sheffield who have grown to become a significant player in the industry. James has grown a company which many people want to work for and importantly, one where innovation is encouraged and nurtured. In many ways, James is like my former bosses who I still look up to and it is no surprise that his past and current employees voted for him in their droves. However, the vast majority of James’s votes weren’t from employees. They were from clients, suppliers and business partners. The supporting comments with their votes were about a man who has strong values which fosters success and who is so likeable that they really enjoy working with him. Congratulations James, well done and we wish you & Voice all the success for the future.