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‘Resolve’ needed for shared services

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Implementing a global shared services model from scratch takes “a lot of resolve”, according to Unilever VP, HR for global services Mike Clementi.

Speaking at the CEB Summit for HR Executives in London, Clementi claimed his own experience of setting up a shared services function for Unilever showed him that being at the start of the process is “not a fun place to be”.

“For us it was literally like creating an international company of 4,000 people from scratch,” he said. “You have to understand that this journey will take maybe four, five or six years. And after two years people will be asking about the return on their investment. So it takes a lot of resolve.”

The main problem when first establishing the centralised service model is moving talent away from global companies’ local bases, according to Clementi.

“You’re going in and saying to people that you’re taking away some of their people from finance or HR and taking them with you, so that’s not always a friendly conversation either,” he added.

Clementi also believes a lot of companies fall down in the “value creation” phase of the process, with some failing to show that their model is more efficient than what was previously in place.

“You’ve got to show that you’re delivering this for less money,” he explained. “In a consumer company no-one is going to buy your end product because you have a great integrated service model.

“So deliver it as efficiently as possible and use the money saved through that efficiency to invest in your consumer products.”