What makes a GCC employee unique?

December 19, 2018 20 min read

What makes a GCC employee unique?

The recent growth of GCCs in India and other parts of the world is centered around accessing high-quality talent with the right skillset. So, what makes talent at the GCCs unique and special? The organizational structure of the GCC is the sort that never existed in the past and one that requires not just superior job-related skills but also an openness to challenges, ambiguity and new opportunities. “You need to have a strong orientation around business, because ultimately you are trying to influence business outcomes,” says Lalit Ahuja, CEO of ANSR. “Business-centricity is a very important consideration.” In fact, the GCC employee is not at all someone who chooses to remain behind the scenes and blend into the background. Instead, you thrive on using critical thinking skills to go beyond the job, as your role in the greater global organization demands a collaborative mindset and an openness to leaving your comfort zone while managing change.

How culture leads to individual and institutional synergies

From our research and execution of talent recruitment programs at ANSR, we’ve found that employees who excel in GCCs commit to a broader personal investment in the business outcomes of their enterprise. “You typically join a GCC because you like the company not just because you like the work,” says Ahuja. “You’re not just going for the work, you’re joining because you love the brand, culture, people, and products of a company.” Hence it is imperative for a GCC to channel the company’s brand values and thinking when seeking new talent, to ensure that the global culture is manifested at the GCC and the GCC essentially functions like an extension of the home office.

Fitment for candidates naturally varies from enterprise to enterprise. While some companies can be very service-oriented and customer-centric, others may be focused on employees demonstrating courage, taking a stand and being a brand ambassador. Defining the hiring processes with the right mix of objective and subjective methodologies to gauge candidate fitment is critical to building the right talent pool at the GCC. This can be a challenge when working with global partners sitting on the other side of the world, but it is crucial for the GCC to function as an integral part of the global corporation. The overarching organizational values are also a key component to the GCC recruitment process, as candidates are assessed on cultural fitment in addition to their job-related skills. Prioritizing this personal aspect of the recruitment process leads to longer term commitments from employees.

Superior capabilities are the starting point

Working at a GCC requires a depth of knowledge in your core area of expertise. “The similarity of work done in the past is the starting point,” Ahuja states. “You’ll work on complex, core strategic projects where there is less tolerance for failure.” Quality experience, deep skills and impeccable academic credentials are necessary, as GCC employees are often expected to work and deliver on high impact projects from the beginning. Such talent is usually the frontrunners in their field with upward career trajectory, who are up-to-date with latest industry trends and technology and are usually the decision-makers in their existing roles. Given the pace of change in the current business context, a GCC employee is expected to remain influential amidst constant change, uncertainty and ambiguity.

That said, a candidate’s critical thinking ability, business-centricity, interpersonal skills, communication and an openness to learning are of equal importance in the GCC environment, where career paths are rarely vertical. This is because GCCs are usually small compared to their home organization, with overall headcount ranging from 50 to 1000 employees. “Because GCCs are small and don’t offer the traditional career paths, which tend to be vertical, you crisscross,” Ahuja says. “You might join the technology team and may move to finance or HR or supply chain, so having a much broader academic and professional base becomes critical,” he adds. Those who exceed expectations in one area of business are expected to create similar impact in other areas of the enterprise too, as a business-centric mindset is seen as a transferable trait in the context of the modern-day business model. At GCCs, it is usually the norm to move up the ladder through a rotation of roles and contribute to larger business operations rather than remaining an individual contributor.

How do collaborative, high performance environments cultivate leadership skills?

As mentioned before, the way GCCs are structured is still new as an operating model and platform, so not all GCC employees have previously worked in a GCC. They often come from varied backgrounds and companies but are familiar with the sort of environment that demands high performance. In such cases, the ideal GCC talent’s work experience has helped them develop leadership skills that demonstrate courage and the understanding of a larger collaborative organization. They’re seasoned in dealing with high level issues that are integral to business success and working on strategic projects with colleagues from key facets of their organization.

“Such leadership skills demonstrate courage, and being part of a larger collaborative organization, dealing with ambiguity is not uncommon,” Ahuja says. “We are typically very reporting-relationship centric, but being part of a GCC means working with teams in different parts of the world,” he says, adding “Your ability to influence without authority is a key asset.” The expectation of the ideal GCC-ready employee is that they can take the reins and weather challenges and ambiguity. This could manifest as responding fluidly to company expansions, new teams, departments and methods of communication, and understanding the customer experience. Employees must be open to change, learning and development, as it’s often expected that they are constantly learning and striving to be better individuals and professionals every day.

Soft skills as the foundation for agility and success

An openness to development and self-awareness is a stepping stone to opportunity in today’s enterprise. As extensions of their home enterprise, many of the GCCs we’ve dealt with at ANSR provide the foundational training to help build various skills, which is not usually offered at service organizations. These are training programs from leadership development to soft skills development and helps employees come up to speed on foundational requirements. “Being weak in soft skills could lead you to hit the glass ceiling,”Ahuja says. “You need to be comfortable in a collaborative environment.” Individuals working in this sort of setting (and, in fact, any future-ready organization) must shed the shackles of antiquated processes and past solutions and be able to face ambiguity and tackle constantly changing and evolving priorities. This is possible with immaculate communication skills, and the ability to work in a multicultural global workforce. These soft skills are at the root of effective management and the ability to influence business outcomes that make you relevant in a GCC. They provide the substance to spark valuable conversations with influencing authority and also collaborate with teams across geographies.

Keeping in consideration that the GCC is in every way a manifestation of the broader enterprise, the expectations from employees are different from service organizations. Taking ownership of outcomes and having a perspective of the big picture necessitates a candidate to look beyond a job description or task and assess where you can add value. You must be ready for high visibility and accountability, and a combination of job-related and leadership skills will help you stay relevant in a global setting. You need a frame of mind to look beyond more mainstream and traditional career paths which can lead to more rewarding experiences.