Saudi Aramco, GE and Tata set up all-women BPO center in Riyadh

Updated 02 October 2013

Saudi Aramco, GE and Tata set up all-women BPO center in Riyadh

Saudi Aramco, GE and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Tuesday announced the launch of the first all-female business process services center in Riyadh. The center will be staffed by Saudi females with TCS and GE owning 76 percent and 24 percent equity in the new venture, which will initially serve Saudi Aramco and GE as anchor clients.
The collaboration of the three companies underscores their strong commitment to support Saudi Arabia’s localization strategies to diversify the Kingdom’s economy and enable the growth of a viable employment sector.
The new business process services center will serve as a building block to localize the business process outsourcing (BPO) industry in the Kingdom. The three partners will work together with the intention of scaling up the new venture to create up to 3,000 jobs for Saudi professional females. GE will create up to 1,000 employment opportunities for this initiative.
Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority (SAGIA) Gov. Abdullatif A. Al-Othman delivered a keynote speech at the launch ceremony in Dhahran, headquarters of Saudi Aramco. The event was also addressed by Khalid A. Al-Falih, president and CEO, Saudi Aramco; Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO, GE; Cyrus Mistry, chairman of Tata Group, and N. Chandrasekaran, CEO and managing director, TCS.
The center brings a unique business model to Saudi Arabia, and is set to become a rich training ground for building new capabilities, skills and careers for Saudi females. It will be employing skilled graduates in the areas of finance, accounting, human resources management and supply chain management services.
Highlighting Saudi Aramco’s strategic intent, Al-Falih said: “We are helping to build the capacity of the nation as it moves toward a knowledge economy by maximizing local content, adding value through integrated industrial parks, and promoting economic diversification and entrepreneurship. In light of the demographic realities, this comprehensive framework offers a winning formula to create jobs.”
Describing the importance of business process services to the services industry, Al-Falih added: “In addition to the array of manufacturing and industrial jobs, services are an even bigger creator of wide ranging employment through an extensive range of office functions. In recent decades, the world, including Saudi Arabian enterprises, has been outsourcing these functions offshore. It’s time to bring those jobs home.”
The center will help corporations in the Kingdom to take advantage of a globally accepted business and operating model, which allows business to focus on core competencies. It will provide support knowledge and industry-specific services with TCS’ globally recognized integrated delivery processes and best-in-class execution.
Immelt said: “GE is committed to partnering with the Kingdom in helping to achieve their social and economic growth aspirations and goals. Today, Saudi Arabia is placing high emphasis on creating jobs for its youth and women, and we are proud to be supporting female employment opportunities in the Kingdom, offering placement opportunities and world class training programs.”
Initially providing services to anchor clients Saudi Aramco and GE, the center will eventually expand its customer base to other companies and institutions across the Kingdom. In due course, GE and TCS will also work with leading Saudi universities and educational institutions to launch specialized training programs to achieve further job creation goals.
Mistry said: “The Tata Group has a long history of encouraging women to achieve their potential and contribute to the community and we are delighted to work with Saudi Aramco and GE to help provide careers for women in the Kingdom and enable them to contribute to its economic progress. Saudi Arabia is a focus market for the Tata Group where we have built strong partnerships and this ambitious initiative is an example of our commitment to this market.”
Chandrasekaran said: “This unique initiative will leverage a new talent pool in the Kingdom to meet the business needs of corporations in the region. It is an example of our long-term commitment to this market. By drawing on our proven global expertise in business process services, our ability to partner with corporations as well as develop talented professionals, we will help achieve the goals of this pioneering venture.”


TCS today delivers business process services from 20 service locations in over 10 countries, including China, Philippines, India, Hungary, the UK, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.


INTERVIEW: Humanity is not handling coronavirus pandemic very well, says health care investment chief Helmut Schuehsler

Updated 07 June 2020

INTERVIEW: Humanity is not handling coronavirus pandemic very well, says health care investment chief Helmut Schuehsler

  • Head of TVM Capital on the challenges and opportunities, successes and failures, of the COVID-19 crisis

Helmut Schuehsler has had what you might call a pretty challenging time of late — and it is by no means over.

He runs the health-care investment firm TVM Capital Healthcare from Dubai, at a time when the reputation of the medical business is being called into question due to the scandal over NMC Healthcare. The UAE’s biggest provider has gone bust with more than $4 billion in unaccounted debt.

Schuehsler operates in the private equity investment sphere, which itself is facing bigger issues than ever before, especially in health care and more so in Dubai, after the 2018 collapse of Abraaj Group, once the private equity flagship in emerging markets.

And there is the small issue of the most significant health challenge humanity has faced in over a century — the coronavirus pandemic, which has changed the economic fundamentals of the medical industry beyond recognition in the space of a few months.

“Things are coming apart,” Schuehsler told Arab News on a Zoom call from his house on the Palm, Jumeirah, where he has been self-isolating for the past three months, apart from a couple of visits to the doctor.

He was referring to the global medical infrastructure and specifically to the problems with the World Health Organization (WHO), rather than the TVM business, for which he still sees big opportunities in South East Asia and the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia.

As a professional investor with more than 30 years’ experience in health care, he holds firm views on the way the international community has responded to the pandemic crisis.

“Humanity is not handling this very well. We should have had a strengthening of the WHO. It is irrational to destroy international cooperation in the face of an international challenge. We’re doing things in a very myopic way,” he said.

He uses the term “titration” to describe the policy response of lockdown followed by reopening and, sometimes, reimposition of curfews and travel bans. Titration is a chemical process in which two compounds are mixed together in varying quantities until they neutralize each other.

“It is a case of titrating openness against social distancing. In the beginning, it was all about not overwhelming the capacity of intensive care units to ensure people had access to beds. Now, we are managing better. The public and private sector have made room for that. The first phase of the response — providing critical health care and devices — is coming together,” Schuehsler said.

“Now you’ll see a gradual reopening and closing, again and again. The danger of an exponential growth in infection rates does not go away. If people stop social distancing and we have demonstrations and concerts with thousands of people, it will go exponential tomorrow,” he explained.

He sees some cause for optimism in the work of the pharmaceutical industry — in which TVM has been a big investor over decades — to first develop effective therapeutics and, finally, a vaccine.


BIO

BORN: Vienna, 1959

EDUCATION: PhD in social and economic sciences, business administration, Vienna University of Economic and Business

CAREER

  • Investment manager, Horizonte Venture Management, Vienna
  • Managing partner, TVM Capital, Munich, Germany

  • Chairman and CEO, TVM Capital Healthcare, Dubai


“I think that by the end of this year there will be between two and five drugs that will gain emergency approvals for marketing in Western Europe. That does not mean they will be available worldwide, but availability will be just around the corner, depending on manufacturing times and how long it takes to set up distribution systems. These will prevent people from becoming so sick that they have to go to hospital,” he said.

On the possibility of a vaccine, Schuehsler believes there could be something available by the end of next year. He does not like talk of a “silver bullet” to take out the virus, however, partly due to the long development and processes of testing and approval necessary for vaccines, and partly because of a growing sentiment worldwide against vaccines.

“It’s only a silver bullet if people are actually using it, and we all know there is a growing resistance movement against vaccines, which is unfounded and which endangers people, especially children. If we want to see our children dying again from polio or measles or chicken pox, we should stop vaccinating them,” he said.

The overall response by regional authorities in UAE and Saudi Arabia has been “OK,” he said, especially considering the distraction caused by the volatility in global oil markets.

“The confluence of those two elements — oil and the virus — has caused a difficult situation for governments. They have to spend a tremendous amount in terms of getting their pandemic response up and running,” he said.

Schuehsler was a pioneer of the biotech investment business in Germany, with a network of investors in Europe and the US, before looking at the growing health-care market in the Middle East in 2009.

Now, TVM is also expanding in South East Asia, a region Schuehsler sees as having great potential in the post-pandemic world.

The pandemic will change the way he does business. In the UAE, with its sizeable expatriate populations, some medical services will change as people leave; others have already gone through a period of contraction during the most intense phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

Fertility treatment, for example, via the Bourn Hall clinic in Dubai, saw a sharp decline in business in April, Schuehsler said, though that has recovered “a bit” last month.

About four years ago, he began to look at Saudi Arabia, the biggest health market in the Middle East. The growth there has been patient and deliberate.

“Saudi Arabia is a much larger market, with different economics and setups, but we consider it to be a very attractive area. The country is the focus point of the Middle East.

“You need to believe certain things when it comes to Saudi Arabia. For example, that the Vision 2030, the opening up and diversification of the economy, will still happen even despite the COVID-19 and oil crises. You have to believe that they will stay the course and that things have been simply delayed and not indefinitely postponed. But we are making that assumption,” he added.

TVM does not invest in hospital chains, but rather in more specialist medical businesses: Long-term acute care, home care and disease management, ventilated care, fertility and reproductive treatment, and the manufacture of medical devices via an Egyptian subsidiary.

Schuehsler has expanded from the UAE to the Kingdom via the Manzil Healthcare Services brand in Riyadh and the Cambridge Medical business in Dhahran. The medical devices business recently signed a partnership deal with the well-known Olayan Group to expand distribution in the Kingdom.

He believes there are still opportunities to invest despite the crisis but warns that the investment outlook has changed.

“Deal making is less clear to me. For an investor, this is not a particularly great time because none of us can predict the future. If you look at a company that has lost half its business and you think you can do great deal, then maybe,” he said.

Timing of investment decisions takes on critical importance, he added.

There is also potential in introducing investors from the US and Germany to Saudi partners. 

“There are a lot of German companies that have good connections in Saudi Arabia, and Saudis appreciate German technology and products. There have been many contacts made with the Saudi government and health-care industry. We can help investors from Germany because we have excellent relationships in the Kingdom,” he said.

During his career, Schuehsler has raised more than $1 billion in committed capital from global investors, overseen 120 investments in the health industry, and been involved in more than 80 major transactions over the years, including the lucrative sale of his ProVita International business to NMC in 2015.

He understands the concerns of investors, employees and patients in the health business and how to avoid the pitfalls that have bedeviled health care and private equity recently in the Middle East.

“TVM has all the transparency and governance you could want. We run our business in the Middle East in the exactly same way we would have run it if we’d been in Boston or Munich,” he said.

“I think people look at private equity and health care with suspicion because so many bad things have happened. We get caught in this, but we are the most internationally minded player in the way we build partnerships, the way we compensate people, the way we run our board meetings in portfolio companies.

“That’s what I’m trying to put in place: Openness, transparency and compliance in the markets we invest in. That’s our contribution to broader society,” he added.