Magazine article Workforce Management

Hr Execs Find Opportunity with Vendors

Magazine article Workforce Management

Hr Execs Find Opportunity with Vendors

Article excerpt


PEOPLE THOUGHT Howard Nelson was crazy when he announced in 1999 that he was ending his 20-year career at BP to go work for the company's new human resources outsourcing provider, Exult. "They were surprised that someone with a secure job with good benefits and pay would want to go work for a company with only seven people," he says.

Today, Nelson heads up international human resources outsourcing outside of North America for Hewitt Associates, which purchased Exult last year. And he has never looked back.

Over the past seven years, Nelson has worked with the likes of Sun Microsystems as well as companies in China, Indonesia, Colombia and throughout Europe. For Nelson, a career human resources executive who had gone to business school and attended every executive education class he could find, moving to Hewitt was a way of broadening his experience beyond what was possible as an in-house executive.

When most people hear about HR outsourcing deals, they think of job losses. But as competition heats up among outsourcing providers, there is a growing need for experienced human resources professionals.

Just last month, Duke Energy of Charlotte, North Carolina, signed an outsourcing contract with Hewitt Associates. Under the agreement, 100 Duke employees, mostly in human resources, will go over to Hewitt. The majority of them will stay on with the outsourcing company for six months to oversee the transition. Hewitt will then review its workforce needs, says Randy Wheeless, a Duke spokesman. Among those 100 employees are a few managers who will stay at Hewitt for the long term to help the outsourcing company get a sense of Duke's culture and needs, Wheeless says. Duke employs 21,500 employees.

"There is a lot of prejudice in large HR organizations around outsourcing because it is considered taboo," says Duncan Mears, who in 2001 left Cable & Wireless, an international telecommunications company, to join ePeople-serve. That company was subsequently bought by Accenture HR Services. "People feel like if they 'go over,' they will be removed from the business, but that's just not true," he says.

At 37, Mears is on the U.K. executive board of Accenture HR Services, helping to determine the company's strategy in the region. He is the client services director for British Telecom, Accenture HR Services' biggest client.

"I spend my life working with the most senior directors at BT," he says. In this role, Mears devotes time to researching and testing the newest technology and software, something he says he would not be able to do if he had stayed in a staff position. …

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