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Interview with Susie West on Shared Services Summit 2017

Jimmy LeFever   Sep 14, 2017      

PayStream recently had the chance to sit down with the financial services experts, sharedserviceslink (SSL), to discuss their upcoming annual conference, the North American Leaders Shared Services Summit, set to take place October 10th through the 12th at the Crown Plaza Atlanta. As fellow providers of financial process research, PayStream has always enjoyed discussing the space with SSL, and learning more about their unique approach to sharing the value of shared services with business professionals.

One of the interesting ways they do this is by promoting communication and collaboration among these professionals, which seems to foster more ease and enthusiasm for shared services initiatives. PayStream found that these themes of open discourse and collaborative interaction runs throughout SSL’s agenda for their upcoming conference. The following transcript includes the conversation held between PSA’s Jimmy LeFever and SSL’s Founder and CEO, Susie West.


Jimmy LeFever: So how long have you been doing this conference? Can you give me a brief history?

Susie West: The North American Leaders Shared Services Summit is eight years old! I can’t believe it, but we have seen almost 1000 shared services leaders attend this event over the years. The idea behind this summit has always been that this is the place where shared services leaders can come together and share ideas, strategies, concerns, and even horror stories. We have managed to set up an environment which gives our delegates the confidence to share quite intimate details of their working lives and aspirations. I think this has been achieved because the delegates know we, sharedserviceslink, really care about them and their issues and goals. They feel very supported and heard. This is hugely important to a shared services leader, mainly because their role is often quite isolated, and they can often feel lonely, or even vilified, when starting out in shared services. This summit, and all our events, have very much been a celebration of the role and the model.


Jimmy LeFever: What is the conference demographic and who is this conference for? Who is it not for?

Susie West: This event is perfect for Shared Services Directors, Global Business Services Heads and Leads, Country CFOs, and Shared Services Center Directors and Senior Managers. Most (but not all!) of the delegates will come from North America.

Many of the largest 10,000 companies in the world have already deployed shared services, and those that haven’t are thinking about it. What we are seeing now is a good number of companies with revenues of $1bn or less implement shared services. So we are seeing these kinds of companies at this event, too.


Jimmy LeFever: Tell me about the value proposition for attendees. What will attendees take away?

Susie West: Our value proposition is quality. This word is unfortunately overused in the events world, but I think we are true guardians of quality. We share quality content—all our speakers are coached and their decks are studied before they present. I always chair the event myself, so this certainly helps to improve the quality of Q&A, and the interactions and networking we facilitate are first-class. This all means attendees will come away with a notebook full of the advice, tips, and insights shared by the speakers. We see delegates leaving our events feeling pumped up and energized, and with an actionable plan to take them forward.


Jimmy LeFever: How have you seen this conference change over the years? I mean in terms of things like attendees, topics, and size.

Susie West: The event has always centered on how shared services operations can help their companies meet and exceed their strategic goals. Thematically, for the first few years, we centered on topics like outsourcing, GBS, Global Process Ownership, process, and KPIs. Now we are focusing more on technology, especially RPA, and how it needs to be part of a wider technology strategy, not just a point solution.

We have also been focusing more on talent, especially as the working population develops. We keep a balance of focusing on traditional, ongoing issues, and current buzz-themes. We try not to get too besotted by current trends, when actually some of the basics are still holding a lot of people back. So we try and get the balance right.

As far as size and attendees, the numbers remain small. Our intention is not to take this event from 100 to 500. This would crush the family-feel energy that cradles this event. We cap attendance at 150 to keep it “boutique” and intimate.


Jimmy LeFever: That’s a great approach. OK, last question. How should attendees prepare themselves for the summit?

Susie West: It really helps if attendees think about what they want from the event. We suggest attendees make a list of expectations and event goals. If they come to the event with a question, we can help them find the answer.

We also recommend studying the brochure beforehand and making a note of when certain speakers are presenting. Attendees will want to come to all the sessions, but they might want to connect personally with certain speakers, and ask them detailed questions.

We work with great sponsors at this event, and it’s worth doing some research before attending, to make sure you get the most from the connections. Often, attendees assume sponsors provide services which are actually different from their real offerings. This always gets cleared up at the event itself, but it helps to do a bit of prep-work.

Finally, don’t forget to pack your business cards!

PayStream greatly appreciates the time Susie West took to provide this interview. Be sure to grab your spot at the conference before SSL hits the cap! Request an invitation here. Also, while you’re there, be sure to visit PayStream Advisors’ booth! We would love to hear what the latest and greatest is with your organization!

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