Philippe Rouvrais, Head of Modis Delivery, Pre-sales and
Technology Solutions, Europe and General Manager Eastern Europe shares some
thoughts about the economic impact of COVID-19 on the outsourcing sector in
Bulgaria and his expectations for the industry future. Here is part of the
interview for Economy.bg:
How the Covid-19 pandemics affected the outsourcing
industry in Bulgaria?
Bulgaria has been traditionally one of the most popular
outsourcing destinations for business processes related to IT, software
engineering, data infrastructure, accounting, HR, customer support, etc. Even
during the pandemic, this sector in the country remained stable providing
employment to over 70 000 people. I think that COVID-19, if it slowed down
the activities somewhat, did not cause serious damages in the industry and I am
happy to see more and more companies getting back to “normal”. For some of them
the pandemic even brought new opportunities and perspectives.
What about Modis Bulgaria?
We had an instant reaction to the threat of COVID-19 with
safety measures taken even before the emergency state was declared in Bulgaria.
We managed to ensure home office for all close to 1500 Modis Bulgaria
employees, remote completion of administrative processes and 100% online
recruitment for new candidates. Working in a safe environment our colleagues
successfully met the increasing demand for our services and solutions generated
by our clients. Every day we are receiving great feedback by our partners and
other companies in the Adecco Group for the measures taken in favor of our
people and our clients.
Do you have canceled or on hold projects? From which
I think we have proved that Modis can be a trustful partner
for all our clients. Maybe, in addition to the nature of our business - long
term service engagements, this the reason we have had very little impact to our
business during the pandemic. Moreover, we have continued growing and looking
for new talents to join our teams, to support our client’s transformation
What were the main challenges for Modis Bulgaria to adapt
to the new situation?
The pandemic caused challenges both for businesses and the
society, but we managed to turn ours into opportunities. Who could have
imagined that our entire organization would be capable of delivering business
operations remotely? We managed to organize and lead the process of transition
and adaptation to the new working reality. The challenge in such occasion is to
respond to the needs of all your stakeholders at the same time but I think our
teams have done a great job by taking care of our people, our clients and
presenting Modis as a socially responsible organization.
Is your staff still working from home? Do you plan to
continue with this model?
We will stick to remote work and home office for our
colleagues until we are sure that going back to the office is 100% safe for
them. We are planning to use the model at least within the next few weeks. At
this point in time, there is no sense of urgency for our people to return to
work in our premises.
Do you have employees laid off? Reduction in salaries or
In these difficult times, I am glad that Modis Bulgaria did
not have to take any measures of this kind towards their people. We really
believe that our people are the most valuable assets for Modis, and we have
always focused on ensuring them the continuity of work.
When do you expect to start hiring again? People with
what skills and qualifications will you need?
Actually, we have never stopped hiring. We are onboarding on
average 10 people every week. During the emergency state around 150 new
colleagues joined our teams in Sofia and Plovdiv. At the moment we are actively
looking for highly qualified people in IT and technical skills such as Java
developers, Android developers, iOS developers and IT support engineers with
language skills – German, Italian, Spanish, French, English etc.
When we met in January you had plans to open new offices
in Varna or Burgas and also to open software engineering centers in Sofia and
Plovdiv. On what stage are these plans now? Are they still valid?
Of course, we are still planning our growth in Bulgaria
within the next few years. In Sofia there are approximately 60,000 people employed
in the Outsourcing sector and we have almost reached the sustainable capacity
of the market. This is why we are actively exploring opportunities for
Modis to open new locations in other cities in the country just like we did
with the opening of our third location in Plovdiv last year.
Recent surveys of EY and Brookings Institution
showed that employers in many countries are speeding up plans to automate their
businesses as workers are forced to stay at home during the pandemics. Where do
you stand? Do you plan speeding the automation and reducing staff?
At Modis we embrace innovation and technologies that could
help us work smarter and automate very people intensive and repetitive
activities. By doing so, we are planning to free up our resources, making them
available for re-skilling and then allocating them to higher added value
activities. Clearly, for Modis, automation and innovation is not a way to
reduce our staff but rather to help us increase the availability of our
resources to do other activities. This will be instrumental to be successful in
a world where skill shortage is becoming a daily difficulty.
For this purpose, we created, in Bulgaria, back in 2017 the
“Modis Innovation & Automation Lab” and as a result, we have noticed
increased satisfaction both by our own colleagues and our clients.
How do you see the future of the outsourcing industry in
times of uncertainty?
It is difficult to predict the future of the Outsourcing
industry which been facing many challenges like all industries with the past
months of Covid19 pandemic.
Many organizations in Eastern Europe have managed to move
their people to “work from home”, maintaining or even increasing their
production capacity. The availability of resources in this environment will be
crucial for the rebound and will bring new opportunities soon. At the same time
one of the biggest challenges will be for these organizations to remain in
business until the first phase of this crisis is over.
Demand in the areas of security, digital transformation, cloud services and artificial intelligence should increase in the upcoming semester.