ISSUE 26 – Article 7

November 2, 2020


On Wednesday 16th September 2020, Nearshores Americas hosted the webinar Business Continuity in Times of Disruption featuring Paul Anselmo, CEO, Evolve Mortgage Services Limited (EMS); Liam Donnelly, General Manager, Digicel Business Trinidad and Tobago; and Peter Gillette, Chairman, Gillette Group. These executives represent three of the leading Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms in Trinidad & Tobago. The webinar focused on the current challenges facing the BPO industry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and examined the business continuity strategies these business leaders employed in their organisations.

Attendees learned the importance of choosing a BPO location with strong infrastructural capabilities and support and the speakers were able to illustrate the characteristics of a nearshoring location that could make or break a company in times of crisis.

Paul Anselmo – CEO

Evolve Mortgage Services Limited

Mr. Anselmo admitted that while there were some challenges, the transition to working from home was not as jolting for their company as it may have been for others.

In the United States, the company has operated virtually for more than a decade, so managing a virtual team is nothing new. However, employees now had their spouses and children at home, some of whom were also working and attending virtual classes. As a result, they found that bandwidth and internet speed were a challenge when videoconferencing, and there were some delays in email communication.

In Trinidad & Tobago, they found this to be less of an issue with most employees having fewer internet and bandwidth challenges. In fact, the strength of T&T’s internet infrastructure was one of the nearshoring advantages EMS praised when they chose to move its outsourcing operations from India to T&T.

According to Mr. Anselmo, “Trinidad has turned out to be a great move for our company as we have benefited from reduced labour costs, a highly educated workforce, and the availability of human resources qualified in the areas of finance and technology”. With a growing need for services provided by EMS during the pandemic, they expanded their operations in T&T and hired new employees during the pandemic. While they experienced some teething issues moving to a virtual employee on-boarding experience, employees were able to get all the necessary training and acclimatised to the culture of the company.

Liam Donnelly – General Manager

Digicel Business Trinidad and Tobago

Like most companies when the stay-at-home measures were implemented, Digicel’s main challenge was finding a way to operationalise a remote working structure. However, according to Mr. Donnelly, they were able to “move its Call Centre operations to the home of over 400 employees within a 48 to 72-hour period”. This, however, was no easy feat. First, the company had to conduct an audit of the employee’s home accessibility, then the necessary measures were taken to ensure that all staff had the right bandwidth and infrastructure needed to deliver quality service to their clients. They also created a dedicated support hotline for staff, to ensure that employees felt connected and supported during this extremely stressful period.

Mr. Donnelly shared that T&T is very fortunate to have a large fibre presence from all the telecom carriers, which helps with strength, speed, and reliability. He maintained that despite the increased and unexpected shift in workload to residential accounts, the company was able to rise above the challenge and deliver quality service to its customers. 

Peter Gillette – Chairman

Gillette Group – DirecOne

Mr. Gillette admitted that his company did face their share of challenges, but they managed to work through it and learned from the experience. “In the beginning, there was a lot of fear surrounding the virus itself and also the implications of reduced job security” he shared. Like Digicel, they also had to conduct the necessary audits to ensure that all their 350 call centre agents had internet access at home. This process was seamless and took less than one week with almost 80% of employees having the necessary infrastructure to successfully carry out their jobs.

All three executives agreed that remote work was here to stay. With the benefits currently derived by most organisations, they could see employers being more open to having shared work from home arrangements for their employees in the future.