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Interview with Thomas Monaghan, General Manager for Bulgaria and Macedonia of Sofica Group
Q: How has Sofica Group’s business been developing after the acquisition by TeleTech?
A: Two years after the acquisition by TeleTech Sofica Group continues to grow its business in Bulgaria, both in terms of the client base, as well as the number of employees. The company started to work for some of the most respected clients of TeleTech through our platform, as our goal is even greater expansion in Europe, where the interest of US companies is directed. In the Bulgarian office we applied the best practices of our group in terms of resource management and operations. We offer Bulgarian employees unrestricted access to the global know-how and innovations of TeleTech. Generally, we try to implement global practices here in Bulgaria, but also want to preserve the cultural aspect of the staff here. Sofica Group is a very well-known brand in Bulgaria and the region, and we will focus on the branding of TeleTech for the European market. This way we want to be more effective in terms of sales and business.
Q: As the new general manager here will you change anything in the daily operations Sofica Group?
A: Yes, and no. One of the reasons for Sofica to join TeleTech was the proven operational effectiveness and the success of the company. As I said, with the deal we added new practices. At the same time, we are very careful about the local market. We want all our processes to be built on what works well here. I worked closely with the local management team to get a better understand of the local market. It was one of the reasons I moved to Bulgaria a year ago - to be closer to our business and people. As for any changes here, it is more about adding new practices and processes at Sofica. There will not be profound changes since both companies follow the same culture.Q: As the new general manager here will you change anything in the daily operations Sofica Group?
Q: You mentioned the two years following the acquisition of Sofica. In your opinion how has the company changed for this period?
A: One of the biggest achievements was that it made a smooth transition from a company for business process outsourcing (BPO), to one focused on the customer and using the holistic platform of TeleTech. Thus Sofica now offers a platform with the entire range of services for clients who can use our global solutions and our consulting services. I am very proud of our local team, whose contribution to the business of TeleTech continues to increase. We have colleagues who manage business functions at regional level from Sofia - business development, human capital, etc. The services for the clients of Sofica are supported by a global infrastructure of the parent company. Which means that we have a business in Bulgaria, which is part of the global operations of TeleTech.
Q: What clients did you add in Sofica after the acquisition?
A: Almost immediately after the deal we added a US-based client, followed subsequently by several others. We have plans for more new customers. Our centers in Bulgaria are very attractive because of their language and technological capabilities. Our global customers recognize this and continue to rely on our services. We will continue to expand these activities; we invest in our local business. We now offer a platform with a full range of services. We also work closely with our business partners in Europe.
Q: How many people work at the company's offices in Sofia and Plovdiv?
A: Around 1 100.
Q: In how many languages do you offer service from Bulgaria?
A: In 26.
Q: All companies that are in the sector in Bulgaria are now talking about the need to introduce new value added services. What does Sofica do in this direction?
A: This process is already underway. Our strategic decision is to invest in offering also consulting and technology services. The region is no longer simply BPO. You know that last year Bulgaria was recognized as one of the best destinations for outsourcing services in Europe and worldwide. This is clear evidence of the potential of the country. The European Outsourcing Association will hold its annual meeting in Sofia this year. I am sure that Bulgaria can maintain its leading position in the sector, which will help the trend to move business outside Sofia to other cities. We will support this process - Sofica has an office in Plovdiv. Active promotion of Bulgaria as a strategic outsourcing destination can contribute towards the future growth, as well as facilitating policy around work permits to foreigners from outside the EU - the so-called blue cards.
Q: At the same time the outsourcing market in Bulgaria is saturated and new players continue to enter. Do you think there is still potential to grow?
A: Yes, I think so. I think there is tremendous potential for services beyond the so-called call centers - more strategic projects in the field of consulting and IT, an even higher level of professional services.
Q: Do you think that there is the necessary manpower for such projects?
A: Yes. One of the reasons that made us come to Bulgaria were skilled professionals, education and experience of the people here. A year living here and I am very impressed.
Q: Is not the struggle between the companies here for experienced people fierce?
A: I think our biggest advantage is that we are a strategic player on the market and want to offer long-term career opportunities to our employees.
Q: Last year Sofica reported a 47% increase in revenues. What are your expectations for this year?
A: Last year was very successful as we benefited from the synergies from the merger of Sofica and TeleTech. As I said we have new customers. Sofica reported one of the highest scores for customer satisfaction in the global study of TeleTech. This is very important for the future. We will have double digit growth in 2016.
Q: Where will Sofica be in 5 years?
A: Much larger thanks to the expansion of our American customers in Europe. We will expand also in the region.
The interview was conducted by Konstantin Nikolov