BPESA WESTERN CAPE
Cape Town’s BPO offering ‘second to none in the world’, says CEO
In October, Cape Town hosted the inaugural GSA Global Sourcing Summit & Awards where South Africa was named the “Global Sourcing Destination of the Year”. Cape Town hosts the majority of South Africa’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) companies and continues to attract business from top firms across Europe, the United States and Australia. Many global and regional companies have set up or expanded their operations in the city. These companies represent a variety of industry verticals, such as technology and communications, financial services, legal and healthcare. Invest Cape Town caught up with Gareth Pritchard, CEO of BPeSA Western Cape, to find out why the world’s top BPO operators choose Cape Town.
What makes Cape Town an attractive BPO destination?
It is definitely the people at the forefront. There is the window-dressing with the mountain, the wine and the sea and the beautiful location. But top of the list would be the people and associated with that, close to the top, would be the fact that we are culturally aligned to the UK and Australia and to a lesser degree to the US, and we have a very competitive pricing environment as well. But without a doubt, it is the people. I think what shouldn’t be underestimated is the enabling environment that we have here, which is unique in Africa and maybe even unique throughout the world. If we compare ourselves to our competitors in India and the Philippines, by that I mean the collaboration we have at government level – city, provincial and national – that is not seen often. That collaborative spirit between public and private sector is extremely high, and also the collaborative nature of the work among competitors is unique. Everyone who comes here from abroad can’t believe we have competitors all sitting around the table with government trying to find a solution, because at the end of the day we are all there trying to create jobs and that’s unique.
What is the future of BPO in Cape Town?
The future for BPO is really exciting. We have built a solid platform here. We’ve got so many good BPO operators in Cape Town, top of the list is obviously Amazon. But we’ve also got all the other internationally-recognised operators, like WNS, EXL, Teleperformance and Capita. All of them are doing amazing jobs. What we’ve got here are the people, not because they can pick up the phone and talk about telco or financial services, but because of a certain empathy and the ability to create a customer experience.
How did Cape Town land the very successful inaugural GSA Global Sourcing Summit & Awards?
I’m a member of the GSA council in the UK and one of their strategic initiatives is to grow on a global level. Traditionally, they have only been active in the UK and last year they ventured out into eastern Europe, Bulgaria (Sophia), and I attended that conference and on the back of that we discussed the option to get Cape Town to be their next port of call.
What makes Cape Town special for you personally?
For me, just like so many people, it’s the combination of the beauty of the location and fun-loving people, which is second to none in the world. I was born in London, schooling in London. I first came to Cape Town in 1998 and set up Lufthansa from Frankfurt. I set up a new Lufthansa company called Lufthansa Process Management, which was sold to Teleperformance in 2007, the world’s largest off outsourcing call centre environment. I ran that for three years. In 2010 I came here, I was on the board of BPeSA and I wanted to spend a year to try and kick-start BPeSA in the region. That year has gone into a few more years.
The highlights of your career in BPO in Cape Town?
It’s got to be the year-on-year growth and being a party to the success, watching things like Amazon happen and other operators come in. On a national level, that we have been able to from Cape Town build a platform for other regions to develop as well, that’s another highlight. I’ve met lots of interesting, good people, and another highlight is being able to live in this beautiful place shouldn’t be taken for granted.