New CEO of HRO business eyes U.S. opportunities, anticipates forthcoming technology, and warns about the perils of abandoning talent management.
by Andy Teng
In further signs of NortgateArinso’s aggressive push into the global outsourcing market, the company has hired former Unisys executive Mike Ettling as CEO of its HRO business, a newly created position. Previously, the business, one of several held by Northgate IS, was led by group CEO Chris Stone, who remains in that role.
In his role at the HRO and payroll solutions provider, Ettling will help drive Stone’s previously stated goal of growth across all global markets, particularly in North America, the single-largest HRO market in the world. The company in recent years had expanded its presence in North America and emerged as one of a handful of full-service, global enterprise providers. Ettling will be charged with maintaining the company’s momentum and to help find new opportunities.
Ettling, in speaking with HRO Today shortly after joining the company, said he was attracted to the provider for a variety of reasons, including the fact that it is a growing business, that it boasts deep domain knowledge of its markets, and that it has invested in strong intellectual property (IP) to differentiate it from other providers.
“There’s some really exciting IP in terms of our ResourceLink product and capability and emerging IP that I can’t talk about right now, but it will really position us in an interesting space,” Ettling said, pointing out that the company is set to make a major product and technology announcement in early spring.
To be sure, technology and outsourcing are areas with which Ettling is especially familiar. Most recently, he was vice president and general manager, global BPO strategy and operations for Unisys and vice president and general manager for global outsourcing and infrastructure services for continental Europe. At Unisys, he served in various other roles including managing director of Australia and New Zealand and vice president of outsourcing for Asia Pacific. Although Ettling does not have prior HRO experience, he has been with companies that have HRO businesses, including EDS, whose ExcellerateHRO business serves clients around the world.
Ettling holds a masters in finance from the London Business School in the U.K., is a graduate of the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, and is a member of the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants.
He said that NorthgateArinso is stressing growth in the U.S. because it’s a market in which the HRO business has vast opportunities to sell its full line of offerings. Unlike other geographies around the world in which NorthgateArinso has established niches, the U.S. is a clean slate. “We don’t have an existing bias in our existing business in the U.S.,” he said. “In the U.S., we are taking the whole suite to market, and we believe the market is demanding that.”
Ettling said aside from sustaining the company’s momentum, he hopes to help HR organizations refocus on talent management in the near term despite the disruptions that current economic conditions have caused to so many HR leaders’ plans. He said that talent management remains a crucial key for many companies’ survival and growth, even though many are hamstrung by declining sales and an uncertain
“If you roll the clock back 6 to 9 months, talent management was on the lips of HR leaders and one of the priorities of all organizations,” he noted. “Now with the current economic environment, we see the trend where talent management is moving down the priority list and taking a back seat. I think organizations do that at their peril.”
He said outsourcing providers such as NorthgateArinso can help wayward companies course correct when it comes to talent management. By giving employers appropriate tools and freeing them of administrative burdens, HR organizations can refocus on talent to ensure that as they emerge from the recession, they will have the human capital needed to grow the business.
“We have a very key value proposition or role to play. We can help organizations address the transactional stuff, to help them implement talent management programs,” he added.