I’m glad I don’t work at Murphy Oil

Take a look at this debate from Linked In. The first person is talking about their investment in Wales, which I have asked them to elaborate on and compare to other parts of the UK.

Clearly this has upset Philip Hughes of Murphy Oil, who is of course based in Wales, and seems to think it’s xenophobic to contrast why a company invests in Wales as opposed to Northern Ireland.

But not only does Mr Hughes choose to try shutting down the debate by implying I am racist, he then starts suggesting that he is a “real” business person and I couldn’t possibly have a view.

That’s because I’ve written a book. That makes me an ‘academic’ and therefore not able to comment on what the real business people do in their offices.

If this is how debate takes place in Murphy Oil, I’m glad I don’t work there!

Tom Lawrence • Paul – You are demonstrating perfectly my problem that the big outsourcing names have done a lot of damage. Was your experience an off shoring model? 

I would say its almost (if not 100%) impossible to deliver the large ROI that exist in most companies through effective procurement via an off shoring model. Impossible for the simple reason that its all about business engagement, trust building, etc. 

Procurement doesn’t actually buy anything – its an influencer. An internal consultant. So to make people change their behaviours (which is where the real value is – multiples of what is achievable through negotiating with a supplier to get a better price) you have to be on the ground, in front of the stakeholder working with them day to day. Off shoring simply won’t work. Its too impersonal. Too process led. You need good commercial communicators intercating face-to-face with the stakeholders. 

The transactional work we do (e.g. help desk, supplier onboarding, market research, etc.) we run out of a shared services centre in South Wales – same time zone, same culture, same mother tongue (and they have mainland European languages in abundance there too). It means even this team can be ‘imtimate’ with our client stakeholders. We tried to run it out of Hydrabad, but because they were unable to form relationships with our client stakeholders, it failed. So we moved it to Wales.

philip hughes • Well done Tom – good decision …. although I wont get hung up on the expression “mother tongue”… diolch yn fawr!!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Why Wales over other parts of the UK though?

Tom Lawrence • Why Wales? Lots of skills there, fed by Cardiff Uni – including languages. Lots of call centres, so plenty of relevant work experience. 2.5 hrs on train to London. And the govt grants are very attaractive. 

Altogether it was more attractive, and better value, than the alternatives, e.g. Poland.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • I mean compared to Newcastle, or Belfast, not Poland though…

philip hughes • Your persistence on this matter is annoying Mark – Tom made a choice based on best value delivery with quality driven well trained very capable available workforce. Competition is always fierce for regional development – this time south wales next time newcastle or belfast or wherever you happen to live – move on and talk about outsourcing as a business benefit or not and stay away from the xenophobia OK!!

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’ve got no idea at all what you are talking about. I’d asked in the debate about the merits of investing in various regions of the UK, including Wales, but Tom actually compared the investment to Poland as the alternative – I merely asked again about the relative merits of various regions within the UK. 

That’s xenophobic and annoying? I’m certainly glad I don’t work with you. I think my record of writing books about investment in Brazil, Russia, India, China, Poland, as well as working with several UK trade bodies to promote FDI, including the Welsh Assembly, speaks for itself on the accusation of xenophobia.

philip hughes • Being an academic is fine and if Mark has written books also fine. I just wonder if anyone has read them? An examination of Regional development funding, with the last vestiges of objective 1 may assist in understanding Tom’s excellent decision to come to Wales. 

Anyway back to debate at the sharp end of business – is outsourcing pure cost reduction – no in my opinion as I dont understand “pure” cost reduction. A matter of definition. 
I think outsourcing is a great tool for providing improved VALUE to businesses, which has a cost component, but there is also the intellectual improvement to business processes released by utilising the vendors skill and experience gained elsewhere, which is almost impossible to cost in the traditional sense.

Mark Kobayashi-Hillary • Philip, I’m at the “sharp end” of business working with some of the world’s leading firms on a daily basis, though clearly you consider it rather academic to also write about that experience.
Black Mountains, Wales: nice view

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