Mary Sue Rogers routinely appears on lists of the Top Consultants in the World (here’s another). The head of IBM’s Global HR and Learning Business Process Outsourcing (BPO)operations, Rogers oversees an organization of 7,000 HR professionals and consultants who execute the HR operations for 30 major global concerns. Her client list includes American Airlines, Avon, CVS, Unilever and a host of other enterprise scale operations.

The Business Process Outsourcing world is one of those emerging professions in which having influence is a key part of the job. Roger’s views on policy, aging, workforce flexibility and demographics are sought both within the vast network of employees and clients and on the larger industry stage. She’s another player who has figured out how to have broad influence while working the job.

Rogers, who is the Secretary & Treasurer of the Human Resources Outsourcing Association (HROA), began her career as an industrial engineer at General Motors. Global stints with Black and Decker landed her in Europe. Stepping out of line HR for ‘a moment’, Mary Sue joined the consulting industry in the UK working for PWC. She never went back to the formal HR function.

Listening to her talk about the work she does, one gets the clear impression that she remains true to her industrial engineering roots. Key to the execution of any BPO strategy is a dependence on fundamental industrial engineering analysis. “The way we determine when to create an asset (invest) is by looking for the repeatable processes that can be automated,” she says.
With IBM’s resources, Rogers is able to consider the investment question across a range of clients.

In a way, Mary Sue Rogers is the Industrial Engineer’s industrial engineer. A relentless focus on process excellence while simultaneously looking for the leverage points that improve efficiency and effectiveness gives IBM the muscle and maturity to stay competitive and profitable in HRO/RPO space. Global staff and global reach give Mary Sue’s operation the kind of legs required for
sustained operations in the enterprise business.

She’s quick to point out that HRO/RPO is quickly becoming a mature business. The characteristics of industry maturity are steady growth, profitability, competence in the broad fundamentals, strong business controls, career paths for professional members of the industry and adequate clarity for infrastructure investment. The HRO/RPO industry now passes each of these tests with flying colors.

We talked about the changes and consolidation in the HRO industry.. “There’s been a good deal of disruption in the industry during the  economic downturn. IBM is deeply committed to staying in the business and making the entire industry successful over the long haul.”

Mary Sue Rogers is a ground breaking professional woman. In the spheres she influences, women are still a relative rarity. She exudes the competence and calm of any great leader. In itself, that accomplishment guarantees her a spot on the Top 100 Influencers list. Rogers is something more. As I talked to her direct reports, I routinely heard that she is “the best boss I ever worked for.” Expect to hear even more from Mary Sue.


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