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She is willing to challenge the client

It is always good to work with somebody who is recommended, be it a supplier or employee. We believe that referrals are opportunities to be tested. So, we asked Matthew Staight at Adstream whether he liked working with us and whether he would recommend us for a different project. Matt works as a Group Financial Controller in Adstream’s London office and started to set up Adstream SSC in Budapest in 2018 with Monika Slomska, Managing Director of Knowledge Pyramid Kft.

How did you get involved in working with Knowledge Pyramid Kft. and with Monika?
I used to work for a company that had a shared service center in Budapest, and I reached out to some of my contacts there in order to get some input on how to set up a center for our company, Adstream. The person who I’ve spoken to was the previous General Ledger Team Leader, so I initially talked to her whether she would like to help in setting up the center and be the Lead for that. Unfortunately, she was just at the point of moving roles, but she recommended Monika because she worked with her previously and Monika had been very instrumental in setting up the shared service center from scratch.

Do you have any experience in working with somebody by referrals?
Yes, in a couple of areas. People will recommend other people who they trust. That really works out great!

Could you detail your cooperation? What was exactly that you have been working on together?
At Adstream we have scoped out a business case for setting up the shared service center in Budapest. We were looking for someone who had the expertise to implement the center, not just somebody who could help with recruiting the individuals, but who had been through the process previously, who could guide us, help us with all the different aspects of the process, the implementation, methodology, support with project management - so in essence, somebody who could get very involved in the details, but also who could support our thinking, give us questions that we would need to ask - which Monika was very good at.

Did you have an exact timing and strict deadlines?
When we started out, the deadlines were quite loose and things were quite ”fluid”, so Monika got used to that quickly. It was very beneficial for us and important that Monika was working with us on that basis. She was able to be flexible and helped with the deadlines and provided clarity, she speeded up implementations.

What is your experience, was it different compared to working with other consultancy companies?
Yes, definitely. The benefit for us to work with someone like Monika was that we were setting up something quite small in comparison to what most shared service centers are. At the same time, it was important to try to do this implementation in a way as structured as possible. The benefit for us was that Monika brought the methodology from her experience of the countless integrations she had already done. She came to work with us and adapted that approach in line with how Adstream is. With other consultancy firms you just get a standard approach and then they will make you work that way. Monika was very good at adapting to our needs and that worked perfectly for us. It was very specific what she did, but at the same time she always had in her mind what best practice was. If there was something that we were looking to do and she did not think it would work out well, because of best practice or experience, she was happy to step in and provide some good advice on such occasions.

How many people did you start with at the beginning?
We started from zero, the first thing we did with Monika was to bring in the head of the shared service center and then quickly bring in other roles.

Why are you satisfied with working with her?
For many reasons. She is very driven and helped to keep us on track during the various stages of implementation. She knew what had to be done and was constantly pushing for that to happen, making sure that the project was going to stay on track. Without Monika’s support on the project, things would have definitely slipped, we wouldn’t be where we are today in so many aspects. We built out a strong, solid team. Also, she is very in tune with the people we brought in. Adstream has a fantastic team, with some really good individuals in there. She’s a master in identifying the people that she thinks would be a good fit.

Is it easy to work with her?
I’m pretty easy-going so I’m quite easy to work with. If she’s got a point that she knows is very important she won’t let you skip over it without having a discussion about it. 
She is willing to challenge the client, there are not many people who would do that.

Will you be working together in the future?
Yes, we will get back to her for a post-implementation review and drive the agenda and strategy for the shared service center over the coming 12 months and beyond. Obviously, the initial phase is to get the center established, onboarding, etc. We’ve also agreed to do a second stage, which is to change the focus to really push for performance improvement, process standardization and get everybody on board with where we want to go with that. Monika’s got huge experience in that area, she knows the team well, she gets on well with the SSC lead and myself, and again understands our business and the pressures related. She’s perfectly placed to support us in setting that strategic agenda going forward in the center.

What is different for the employees of Adstream SSC in comparison to working for any other SSC?
Adstream SSC is different because of its size, the employees probably feel that they are closer to the detail, they feel more that they own something, and if someone’s on holiday or off sick, there is more of an impact on the team, so there’s good cross-collaboration across the group. In general, they get involved in much more broad processes. People want to come to us because they are not necessarily enjoying the SSC environment where they are currently and moving from one to another might not be that different for them. Culturally a new company could probably be a bit different, but you’re still working in these large teams – here there is more opportunity to learn and get involved and to be there at impactful decisions within Adstream team. At other SSCs your job may get very repetitive and the opportunity to learn and progress is usually not there in many cases.

How would you recommend working with Knowledge Pyramid Kft.?
I would recommend Knowledge Pyramid Kft. for somebody who wants to set up a shared service center or wants to go through a change process, or for somebody who wants to look at whether the structure in a team is operating in the most efficient way possible. Monika has brought great experience that she could offer there, helping people put in place processes and a kind of methodology by which to operate with going forward.