Visit to Henkel GBS+ in Bratislava

The Master Class CEE and members of the CEE CercleWU visited Global Business Solutions (GBS+) of Henkel Group in Bratislava on May 26. The aim of the visit was to learn about the activities that a shared service center performs in a multinational group and how its portfolio of tasks and competences transformed over the years.

The wave of business process outsourcing (BPO) and the establishment of shared service centers began in the 2000s and gained speed after the global financial crisis when cost cutting climbed to the top of the management agenda. University towns from Cracow, Budapest, Bratislava to Sofia became a magnet for BPO and more than half a million jobs were created in Central and South Eastern Europe. Over the years many of them transformed into expert centers. In Bratislava alone, more than 30,000 people work for multinational firms such as Allianz, Amazon, IBM, SwissRe, Mondelez, Accenture and Dell.

The team of GBS+ prepared a comprehensive program for us covering an overview of the global concept of GBS+ and the subsidiary in Bratislava. This was followed by presentations of two business processes, the Supply Chain and the Controlling departments.

GBS+ is a success story of the Henkel Group. They are present in seven locations globally. GBS+ Bratislava started in 2006 with 20 employees providing transactional financial services only and grew to nearly 1,800 employees today covering about 20 main processes ranging from controlling, supply chain, marketing to human resources and treasury. 40 languages are supported. Formerly called a shared service center they now provide under the GBS+ brand comprehensive expert solutions and run Centers of Excellence for specific value chain activities. A SSC organization brings a global process orientation into the company and a higher degree of process standardization. That reduces complexity and costs and increases speed in execution and process compliance. It also allows a faster integration of acquisitions.

A good overview of the transformation can be found in the interview with Christian Schulz, Head of GBS+ Bratislava in The Slovak Spectator from 2021: