Getting it Right, On-Site

By Stephen Marshman

Getting it right, on-site

The role of the client on-site is nothing new. At SGK we have been providing managed services resources for many of our clients for more than three decades. But the numbers of our workforce employed in such roles has grown significantly over this period and the positions they fulfil are many and varied. Today, we have more than four hundred people delivering managed services across the globe, and while the majority still perform a combination of project management and print technical support functions for our clients, these are often nuanced and bespoke, tailored to meet the specific needs of each client. Since the pandemic, the term on-site doesn’t really fit the bill either and we have seen a significant shift in terms of location. While we still have managed services teams working at clients’ facilities, today they only make up 15% of the total, with 80% in hybrid roles, working between client sites and remotely from home, and 5% providing the services from SGK studios.

This vast army of talent plays an incredibly important role in the delivery of the services SGK provides. They are on the front line. At the coal face. Often with tenures that extend way beyond the marketing teams they support; they pride themselves on being experts in the products and processes of the clients. They live and breathe their clients’ brands and strive to be so culturally aligned that they occupy a unique space where they are simultaneously part of SGK as well as the clients they serve.

But to some extent their value can be hidden or taken for granted. They can be the unsung heroes, without whom the project might not even get started, let alone delivered. Creating the teams that make that magic happen isn’t something that occurs by accident. SGK have developed and optimised an approach for providing the optimum talent for these roles over many years. And we’re confident that we’re the best at it in the business.

I spoke to SGK’s Talent Acquisition Manager for EMEA, Clare Wilkins, to understand a bit more about what’s key to putting successful teams of on-sites in place.

How long have you been working in this role for SGK?
I’ve been at SGK for the last six years but I’ve been in recruitment for more than three decades

If you had to summarise, what does your role entail?
I am responsible for managing the recruitment process for all of our offices and onsite roles within the EMEA region, ensuring both the candidates and our managers have the best recruitment experience. This also includes benchmarking, building candidate pipelines and carrying out market analysis.

What is it about our approach at SGK that makes us different?
Part of it is about scale and reach. I am based in the UK, but typically when I am recruiting for an on-site team for one of our global clients, I need to be able to put people in place across Europe, and sometimes even in the Americas and APAC. This is where our global network really comes through. I’ve got colleagues all over the globe and a network of contacts that I can call on across the world.

And what does that mean for SGK’s clients?
For one thing this mature network means we’re not dependent on external agencies or third parties. This keeps the process simpler and means we are not asking the client to absorb an additional layer of costs. It’s a huge advantage to our clients that we can manage the process in-house.

And do you think that’s a key point of difference?
Absolutely. We’ve built up this network over many years. At the start, building a Europe-wide team of 10-15 on-sites would have been extremely daunting, but today we have a good feel for the profile of candidates we need and where to find them anywhere across our region. I don’t think other agencies can do this without relying heavily on local recruiters.

So we’ve got a template that works, is it now just a case of applying that process each time we win a new piece of business?
Well, it’s not quite as simple as that! Another aspect that we are heavily involved in is making sure the teams we recruit are the right cultural fit. Organisations are all different, as are specific markets. We spend time getting to know the “personality” of each client so that we have a sense of the types of candidates that will thrive within an organisation or even a specific team.

We very much see ourselves as part of not just the implementation team, but the win team too. We’re often involved in the tender process, trying to understand the specific skillsets and the personal qualities that will be required for a new opportunity. We’ll even visit the client to help us develop our understanding. And I think this is a key value we bring to clients over and above a recruitment agency: we’re specialists recruiting for roles within the broader graphics industry, and this give us a big edge.

How does this build client confidence?
Often, with a big implementation, SGK is not just taking on a contract from another supplier, they are part of a complex business transformation where the client is moving to an entirely new model. In such cases, the on-site community we build is right at the centre of this and making sure that they are a good fit, that they become ambassadors for the new way of working, as well as for SGK is critical. If the client knows from the start that we have done this many times over with great outcomes, it’s one less moving part for them to worry about.

It’s been great to get some real insight into how we are recruiting. To finish I’d just like to hear what it is that you’re most proud of when it comes to your role at SGK?
I think for me it comes down to the satisfaction you get from starting with nothing, and then helping transform that into a team that’s thriving. At the outset, that can feel like we have a huge mountain to climb but we’re confident we’ve got a tried and trusted methodology for creating exceptionally high performing teams for our clients. It might not always be the aspect of our service that grabs the headlines but it’s invaluable to our clients and seeing those teams flourishing gives me a real buzz.


About Clare Wilkins
Clare has more than 25 years’ experience in recruitment and talent acquisition. Heading up the EMEA recruitment team she began her career with SGK in 2017. Responsible for recruiting talent both internally and for onsite teams across the region. She ensures SGK recruits the best talent.  


About Stephen Marshman
Stephen has more than 25  years’ experience in branding and graphics, having begun his career with SGK in 1997. Today he works as a Business Development Director, focused on helping organisations of all sizes implement best practice processes for the development of packaging and branded content.