Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 10th 2014 Contents APRIL 2014 • WEEK TWO www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
NEWS | BG7
The launch of a business process
outsourcing (BPO) pilot train-
ing programme in T&T is just
one step towards making T&T
an attractive destination as an
international financial centre
of the region, said Sheeba Thomas, head of
business for the India-based NIIT Uniqua.
"We try to build talent across various indus-
tries. In T&T, we are building a programme
which would be the future of the BPO industry
here. We are sensitising the students to be
able to enhance their skills to work in a BPO
environment. The students come after having
done commercial studies at the university
level. We help them with customer handling
and amalgamate the skills for the financial
and corporate skills world," she said.
On March 28, the T&T International Finan-
cial Centre (IFC) launched its BPO pilot training
programme for 50 students at the School of
Accounting Management, St Augustine.
Thomas, an Indian national, spoke to the
Business Guardian last Friday at the T&T IFC,
Tower D, Port-of-Spain International Water-
NIIT Uniqua provides training and out-
sourcing services in developing markets to
help businesses become more efficient.
It was formed in 2008 as a joint venture
between NIIT and Genpact. The company
was established to offer total training out-
sourcing services to industries specialising in
business processes, knowledge and technology
services. NIIT Uniqua brings the strengths of
NIIT in the training domain and Genpact in
the BPO domain to its customers.
Thomas believes locals have the ability to
reach far in the BPO and financial world. She
spoke about the high attrition rate in India
for these programmes, but no one in T&T had
dropped out of the programme.
"The T&T candidates have skillsets that
include tertiary level education. They have the
practical knowledge, having worked in financial
institutions, and they have the skills of being
English speaking, which gives them an edge
all over the world. In the BPO world, there
are three main attributes of skill, attitude and
knowledge. Everyone from university has the
knowledge, but what we are trying to do is
build skill and attitude," she said.
She said financial services is a "niche mar-
ket" and although T&T is small, it is sur-
rounded by large emerging markets in Latin
"For the international corporate world willing
to come to T&T, they would see the skillsets
available in the market. You have a population
that is willing. There are also nationals of T&T
who may want to return home because there
are opportunities available," she said.
In a statement to the Business Guardian on
Tuesday, the T&T IFC further elaborated on
India s BPO sector.
"In our experience, India showcases a highly
diversified BPO portfolio catering to all levels
of services, but there has been huge growth
in the finance and accounting high-value ver-
ticals, hence Indian companies are looking to
find North American nearshore locations,
which then ties back into T&T s value propo-
Varun Maharaj, chief executive officer of
the T&T IFC, told the Business Guardian last
Friday the training programme came about as
the result of the memorandum of understand-
ing (MOU) which was signed with Quatrro in
Quatrro is a global services company based
in India and Chicago, offering business and
knowledge processing services to organisations
seeking higher operational effectiveness, greater
flexibility and lower operating costs.
"Quatrro agreed to set up a pilot in T&T
to carry out transaction processing with focus
on credit cards and risk management processes
in T&T. Also, they indicated finance and
accounting and doing some of this work for
their North American clients," he said.
Maharaj said the Quatrro BPO offices would
be set up on the same floor of IFC head office
at Tower D, International Waterfront.
"They have indicated that between 25 to 50
seats will be created," he said.
Maharaj said the world has changed since
the idea of T&T as a regional IFC was put
forward and spoke about Oliver Wyman, the
international consultant management firm
that has been doing consultancy work in T&T
to help create the conditions for an IFC.
"They developed for us what was conceived
way back in 2008 the whole concept of devel-
oping a financial institutions support services
industry, which is really a BPO industry, with
specific focus on financial and accounting on
one hand, and banking and financial services
on the other hand.
"Because of the changes internationally and
locally, there has not been any clear vision
during the period of 2008-2011. After that in
2012, a clear vision for a T&T IFC was devel-
oped and a strategy as to how best to position
the country as being an international centre.
This came out of a collaboration with an inter-
national consultant. They had originally been
brought in 2008 for the original plan and
brought back to update it," Maharaj said.
Maharaj said their strategy is to develop
3,000 jobs in five years.
"We want these to be high level paying jobs.
When those jobs are created every year, we
can contribute out of this industry at least
"The financial sector contributes 14 per
cent to the gross domestic product (GDP) and
financial services, and it is the fastest growing
sector of the economy and is growing at three
to four per cent a year, which is faster than
the national GDP growth rate. We can trans-
form T&T once we line up all the dots along
the way," he said.
He said the financial services industry is
one area which can diversify the economy.
"We can make a dent in this area. The BPO
is a global industry, and there may be nationals
of T&T living who may be willing to return
home to work because they see in this industry
they would not lose the capacity to compete
at the cutting edge. A lot of people from T&T
go and work on Wall Street and other places
and they are at the cutting edge of what they
are doing," he said.
Maharaj said there is a lot of under employ-
ment in T&T which the BPO industry can
"When we look at tertiary level institutions,
they are probably putting out between 14,000
to 17,000 graduates annually. Most of them
are underemployed and working in mom and
pop businesses. They are not really using the
skills they were trained for. These BPO offices
will arrest some of the brain drain. This new
industry we are trying to start is probably the
first industry that is being started in ten or
15 years in T&T, where it has a global focus,"
He said although T&T is small, there are
other small countries, like Singapore, that have
done well in the financial services industry
and in general development.
"Singapore was just a dot 50 years ago and
look at what they have done. T&T can do the
same thing in the development of our econ-
He said T&T has the competitive edge to
create a BPO industry.
"T&T has a A-rated country by Standard
and Poor s, our political situation is fairly
stable, we are an English-speaking country,
we have a fairly robust telecom infrastructure.
We have about five or six optic cable lines
coming into T&T and a lot of unused capacity
in this area. Our energy costs are low too," he
He said the real estate cost in T&T compare
favourably with other countries that investors
may potentially go to.
"We have a class properties that we can
rent for US $3.95 per sqft per month. Go any-
where else in the region to get a class property
for that price. If you start talking about B
Class you can start looking at US $2 to $ 2.60
per sqft per month. It is very cheap here," he
He said the TT IFC wants to expand the
scope of its work.
"We want to create centres of excellence in
accounting and decision analytics. By that I
mean financial modelling and management
systems. We visited a facility in India and peo-
ple would be amazed at the type of work that
they are doing. The top banks in the United
Kingdom, like HSBC and the Royal Bank of
Scotland, the risk work they are doing, all of
the reports for the Central Bank in England,
they are doing it in India. That is the type of
work we want to bring here," he said.
a type of outsourcing that involves the
contracting of the operations and
responsibilities of specific business
functions (or processes) to a third-party
service provider. BPO is typically
categorised into back office outsourcing
which includes internal business functions
such as human resources or finance and
accounting and front office outsourcing,
which includes customer-related services
such as contact centre services.
BPO that is contracted outside a
company's country is called offshore
outsourcing; BPO contracted to a
neighbouring or nearby country is called
nearshore outsourcing and jobs contracted
within the company's own county is
sometimes called onshore outsourcing.
Sheeba Thomas, head of business for the India-based NIIT Uniqua, and Varun Maharaj, chief
executive officer of the T&T International Financial Centre.
PHOTO: MARYANN AUGUSTE
Indian company trains
T&T nationals in BPO pilot
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