If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em

In my discussions with local economic development folks, inevitably many will bemoan the rise of the ‘offshore’ and how India is taking away call centre jobs and China is taking away manufacturing jobs and ultimately the question is asked “how can we compete?”

Good leaders turn challenges into opportunities. How’s that for a cliche?

But it’s true.

Let me give you an example.

It is definitely true that India and other cheaper offshore locations will, in fact, skim off much of the basic call centre work that would have previously been done in North America.

But there is still a need for North American-based customer contact centres and back offices.

Consider ExxonMobil. I had a chat with an employee over there last weekend. ExxonMobil runs four global customer service centres (at least for one line of business): one in Brazil, one in Bankok, one in eastern Europe (I think Bulgaria) and Moncton.

That, I think, is where we need to be. Globally connected. Part of “follow the sun” global operations for world class firms such as ExxonMobil.

Consider as an other example, Canada’s AIM Trimark. This company is a subsidiary of the global financial services firm London-based AMVESCAP. This firm recently setup a financial services centre in Charlottetown and said in its public company filing that this facility was one of three global centres for the company.

There are a number of examples of this right here in Atl. Canada.

So instead of moaning and complaining, my advice to economic developers is get out there and get connected. Go to India. Go to Eastern Europe. Ireland. Build these relationships. Position New Brunswick as part of a global solution.

India’s consul general was in Timmons last week. Timmons, Ontario – talking about investment and trade.

When was the last time he was in Bathurst? Tracadie?

That’s my point.