Nearshore Americas

For Deborah Kops, Bringing US Jobs Back Onshore is a Social Mission

Liberty Source PBC, a newly established outsourcing firm based in Fort Monroe, VA, is not your average BPO provider. Founded by Deborah Kops, a veteran sourcing professional, Liberty Source seeks to find outsourced jobs for military spouses. Above all, it aims to bring back the American jobs shipped overseas.

Last month, it landed a contract with American Internet firm AOL Inc. to manage its finance and accounting work. Liberty has begun training hundreds of people in back-office jobs and it plans to hire more than 500 people over the next five years as it offers services in accounting, finance, human resources and customer care.

In addition to seeking contracts with private buyers, Liberty Source is also mulling picking up sub-contracts from government contractors. Nearshore Americas interviewed the company’s Chairwoman Deborah Kops.

Nearshore Americas: What inspired you to develop this new venture? Didn’t you once describe yourself as a ‘bruised and battered” sourcing person?

Deborah Kops: Having been a provider and client of offshore delivery, I believe that the U.S. can be part of a delivery network. To be honest, as a provider coming back from a trip to India, it was hard to tell the U.S. Immigration that my job was shipping American jobs offshore. So I started to think about populations that aggregate in locations, and have good educational backgrounds for rules-based work. After considering a number of groups, I settled on military spouses. They are highly educated, yet by being concentrated around military bases and dealing with redeployment, they often are shut out of opportunities. Military spouses are more likely to be unemployed and make less than their civilian counterparts. And, in the enlisted ranks, many families are on government support such as food stamps. It doesn’t have to be this way. What started as a “the U.S. can do this too” is now a commercially competitive venture with a social mission. Think about it this way: bringing jobs back in, training a talented workforce; and providing commercial delivery with the plus of social mission.

NSAM: What is the aim of Liberty Source? Why did you choose the outsourcing sector to serve the U.S. military veterans?

Kops: We are focused on spouses, although many of our staff are veterans. We aim to develop a work culture that supports their particular needs for a flexible, supportive work environment. At the same time, our clients benefit from their sense of ‘get it done’ that outsourcing clients say they miss when they move work offshore. Cultural affinity and the ability to communicate are pluses that we can offer. We will not compete full on with established global and offshore players. Rather, we will fill a niche when clients look to structure a flexible onshore delivery model.

NSAM: How are you training your potential employees? Are you planning to increase capacity?

Kops: Our training focuses on the client, the work and the capabilities necessary to work effectively.  The business will increase capacity as we bring on additional clients.

NSAM: We believe that the contract you landed with AOL Inc had been previously outsourced to India. How many jobs has the contract generated for the military spouses and how many more jobs do you think your company can generate in the near future? 

Kops: About 75% of our staff have a military affiliation; the majority of whom are spouses. Under the terms of our grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia, we will create almost 600 jobs. However, we are not constrained by location.

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NSAM: It is the lower costs that drives U.S. corporate firms to offshore their jobs. Now, you are talking of bringing the jobs back to the U.S. shores. How do you think you can convince your clients over the cost factor? 

Kops: For many organizations, labor arbitrage has not been the bargain they thought it would be. We aim to be commercially competitive when considering the total cost of ownership of an outsourcing relationship.

NSAM: You seem to be offering several back-office services to state governments across the United States. Would you take us through the deals you have already struck or are in the process of striking?

Kops: Our first client is not government, and although we can provide services to government, our focus is on the private sector. At this point in time, it would be inappropriate to publicly discuss our pipeline.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.

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