Voice of Experience: S.A. Ibrahim - The Down PaymentBy Joshua Weinberger | Posted 2003-06-01 Print
Ibrahim joined GreenPoint—the nation's largest specialty-mortgage company—in March 1997 and was appointed president and chief executive officer in January 2000.
GreenPoint Mortgage President, CEO
WHY OUTSOURCE?: At GreenPoint, Ibrahim says, "the first driver is that our business is a fast-growing one." The value of mortgages originated by the firm "went from $10 billion a year to $33 billion a year in three years," he says. Outsourcing helped his team match the pace.
KEEP MOVING: "To remain an innovative player, we have to rely on process expertise and resources," he says. "And we've found that at critical periods we have not been able to access those resources conveniently in the U.S."
SO WHY INDIA?: "We're not a huge company that can look at a whole variety of countries. We might have looked at the Philippines for our call-center—but we wanted to go to one place for all our needs. If we were bigger, we might look to hedge our bets in a couple of locations." India, he adds, also "offers a wealth of expertise, and access to [key] resources." There are also "cost benefits of doing business in India"—such as "moving toward a 24/7-type platform."
ALWAYS IN FLUX: "Technology is such a dynamic field, we need changes in our skills base from time to time. As a mid-sized player, we don't have the critical scale to support that kind of expertise in every area." By contracting overseas, Ibrahim "can leverage the combination of the core expertise in our shop" and the skills his outsourcer has on tap.
WHAT HE'S SENT OVER: Developing, testing and managing a proprietary loan-origination system. Also in the process of being outsourced: call centers and customer-service applications.
BABY STEPS FIRST: With any offshore vendor, "you have to do your homework," Ibrahim says. "Test them out with a little piece of work. Be very clear about what you're outsourcing and why. The greater the details and the more specific the deliverables, the greater the likelihood of success." Only after the results are in should you pursue a true partnership.
BE PATIENT, BUT (AGAIN) KEEP MOVING: "It takes the first year or so to get things working," he says—in any outsourcing, even in the U.S. "You can never get complacent in this business. You have to try whatever it takes to get a competitive edge—and India is one." For now.
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