Athena BPO is one of the oldest domestic BPOs in India which was started by a visionary business leader Elizabeth Jacob (Director & CEO of Athena BPO). Elizabeth is an inspirational leader with a rich experience in the domestic contact center and has a track record of making a benchmark in the telemarketing industry way before its popularity in India. Two decades ago, when India witnessed minimum growth in Domestic outsourcing, she despite the odds, built a BPO division for the domestic market and decided to bring a radical change and redefine the economics of the global service industry. The company started focusing on the domestic market and ever since then, under Elizabeth’s leadership, Athena BPO has evolved into a market leader for the BFSI segment. Today, it serves multiple clients from the BFSI, FMCG, to Telecom verticals with multi-lingual support in 11 regional languages spanning across Mumbai and Bengaluru. It is her sheer hard work and persistence that over the years the company has won several accolades for its excellence in Contact Center Management in Tele Sales, and Customer Service. Elizabeth is a pioneer in the contact center domain and has a history of setting up contact centers in India as well as abroad as a consultant for some of the largest names in the global market. Let’s hear it from her.
Tell us about the various responsibilities you shoulder as the Director & CEO of Athena BPO.
Since I am the founder and CEO of the company, I have dual hats on. First being the founder, I leverage my hands-on experience in the daily operation of the company. We work majorly with BFSI clients and hence vest immense emphasis on compliance and integrity. On the other hand, as the CEO of the company, I am responsible for Business Development in Athena. I believe in thinking like my clients to deliver them the most optimal solutions depending on their specific need. I am also responsible for managing the overall P&L of the company. Additionally, I focus on organizing various in-house process & product training programs for our senior leadership team to keep them updated on new developments in the industry.
What are some of the most pressing business challenges that you encounter in your current role? How do you successfully mitigate them?
Bulk of our business is Outbound in nature and so it has been a big challenge to get the right people at all levels who understand the complexities and are ready to deal with clients at every level. It is challenging to the bridge the gap between the client and the people expectations and whoever joins Athena BPO is expected to manage both ends effectively and deliver the best outcomes. So, it has been tough to hire people in leadership positions who are willing to put their efforts to deliver satisfactorily to the clients. Operational challenges are another big roadblock in this sector due to attrition of staff at entry level. Since it is a very governed and measured job, you tend to face attrition, hence Training and Quality teams are constantly at peak work load so that no glitches are created in the operations.
What are some of the most significant milestones that you have achieved throughout your professional journey?
We had a very humble beginning at Athena BPO with only five workstations and had no idea whether we would survive in the market or not. However, in the same year of the company’s establishment, we did our first one crore billing which eventually brought a turning point to our business. Ever since then, we have been growing; we started with five workstations and today have four big sites across two cities with 4200 workstations. The journey in itself has been a huge milestone.
“We started with five workstations and today have Four big sites across two cities with 4200 workstations and continue to grow”
What would your advice be to young women who aspire to become business leaders and entrepreneurs in the future?
To grow a business, it is very important to ensure that your people understand your vision and are ready to put their efforts toward a positive outcome. It takes a lot of hard work and persistence to deliver results. Moreover, in this digitalized era, results are more tech-oriented. You must be well aware of technologies, automation, and analytics to understand, analyze and handle data. At the end of the day, clients look for results and you need to constantly innovate your technological skills to deliver desired results to the clients. This industry is a good space to grow, provided you are willing to deliver innovative results consistently.
Elizabeth Jacob Director & CEO, Athena BPO
Having a Science Graduate from Mumbai University and starting her career with Phillips India in 1984, Elizabeth is known for spearheading the contact center domain of India since 1989. She has engaged extensively with reputed market leaders to develop their first outsourced contact centers in India