Get the future you want – Where the SSC sector is heading?

Article by Anna Gliwińska-Pasela, Legal Finance Director at Capgemini Polska.

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What will the SSC sector look like in a few years?

Anna Gliwińska-Pasela
Legal Finance Director Capgemini Poland

Remember the holiday queues to the Giewont? Imagine that statistically 1 in 50 adults [1] in this queue works in the Shared Services Centers sector. 1 in 50 people relaxing on the beach in Władysławowo, 1 in 50 people swimming in the Masurian lakes, 1 in 50 people living in your housing estate, be it in Wrocław, Wieliczka, Pcim, Rawicz or Zielona Góra.

According to the data collected by Statistics Poland, in the first quarter of 2021 in Poland among people aged 15–89 there were 16,433 thousand working people (including those running their own business and helping family members without compensation)[2]. Accidentally, that’s less than 50% of the population. In the sector popularly known as SSC (Shared Services Centres), 355,300 people worked in over 1,600 centres in the first quarter of 2021[3].

Is that a lot?

The SSC sector employs over 355,000 people. We have less than 100,000 doctors in Poland, and less than 90,000 miners. The scale of employment is equal to that of teachers; we are still a little short of the half-a-million-strong army of clerks, but taking into account the dynamics of the sector’s development, in a few years’ time we may catch up with this group as well. And while the figure of 355,000 is admirable in itself, if you add the fact that the sector has grown to its current size in the last decade or so, it is undoubtedly a business marvel.

That applies not only to its size, scale, or magnitude, but above all dynamic change and diversity of processes.

What opportunities are there to work in an SSC?

The SSC sector is primarily associated with financial processes. And for a good reason as much as 60% of the centres declare that they have a Finance & Accounting department, within which employees deal with such areas as: Accounts Payable, GL, O2C, T&E, Treasury, Statutory Reporting & Taxes, Financial Planning and Analysis, and Business Controlling.

The second area declared by almost 50% of the centres is IT with such specialisations as: Application Lifecycle Management (incl. Software Dev), RPA, Project Management, Infra Management, Information Security, and Cloud Services.

Another popular function (supported in over 45% of the centres) is HR departments, which deal with: HR Admin & Reporting, Recruitment, Payroll, Comp & Benefits, L&D, and Mobility.

Apart from these basic functions, it is more common to find job offers for project managers, auditors, specialists in marketing, risk, procurement, real estate, lawyers, pharmacists or engineers.

There are numerous opportunities. That is why no one is surprised that Kasia, after several years of working in recruitment, decided to move to the risk management team. And Karolina went from accounting to IT. Gosia was a project manager, now she is an auditor. Bartek went to Singapore, Paweł went to Zurich, and I worked in Frankfurt for 2 years. Carlos came to Poland from Costa Rica, Marcos from Mexico, and Ben from Ireland. Where are our limitations? In ourselves. In one of my first development conversations about where I was professionally versus where I would like to be, my manager said: „Remember that you are responsible for your own development. I’ll help you, but you have to decide for yourself which way you want to go.”

Sky is the limit

Does this advice mean that „the sky is the limit”? I do think so. Although I would rather use the term „you set the limit”, meaning: you are in charge of yourself, your career, and what you want to do. Start by answering the question what you like to do, what you feel best in, what you enjoy or what you would like to try. Step two: identify your goal and the actions that will get you closer to it. Do you want to develop your leadership skills? Offer to help your supervisor with a few topics. Ask them to involve you in projects or tasks that will help you develop these competencies. Or are you thinking about moving from finance to programming? Find out what skills you need to have, invest your time in learning, put your new knowledge into practice (for example, by implementing improvements and automations in your current job). Be proactive – once you’ve defined your goal, talk to your leader. Talk about your plan and ask on what help and support you can count. Remember that training is only part of success – the most important thing is practice and using new skills in everyday work.

And the second point: it’s never too late for change. If you feel unfulfilled, if your work seems too routine, if for the past few years you’ve been doing the same thing but you think it’s late to change after 40, stop that way of thinking. Harland Sanders (founder of the KFC chain) was 62 years old when he got in his car and drove from restaurant to restaurant offering the owners a recipe for the legendary chicken (in exchange for a commission on sales). His key to success (besides the delicious chicken) was that he set a goal and he was proactive. Well, sure, you’ll probably now say that Poland is not America and working in a corporation is not selling chicken. I have a story to counter that, too;) A few years ago I got a resume of a person who, after 25 years in government, decided to switch industries. She applied for an internship in the finance department, started in accounting and quickly realised she needed to brush up on her Excel skills and learn Business Object. She did that. Now she works in the reporting department.

So if something is bothering you in your current job or you want to try something new – get to work.

Get the future you want

Several years ago, most of the services provided by the sector were transaction-based processes. In 2004, my job was to post business invoices and expenses. Ready documents were flown (yes, yes… paper documents were flown from UK) to Poland and I had to sort them and input data into the system. The so-called transactional processes were the foundation of this business. Today, more than 50% of processes are knowledge-based, and this rate is growing every year. Which, in turn, means that there is a need for specialist knowledge, not only in IT, but also in BSFI, risk, finance or even medicine. From the back office we move through the middle office, front office into the key area of innovation and R&D for companies. Innovation is no longer just a fashionable slogan. Innovation is a mindset, it’s people behaviour, it’s work culture, it’s openness to ideas, it’s a must, for companies that want to be leaders in their industry. Innovation is us.

What will the SSC sector look like in a few years? It will be as we make it. You, me and 500,000 other talented, curious people.


[1] Group of employed and the unemployed people


[3] Sektor Nowoczesnych Usług Biznesowych w Polsce 2021 – ABSL report

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