Genesys leader: ‘We’re going to start growing again in Indianapolis’

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Six months ago, call-center software maker Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories Inc. acquired Indianapolis-based Interactive Intelligence for about $1.4 billion in the state's second largest tech-firm acquisition of all time.

As with many mergers and acquisitions, there were some defections and a hiring freeze. But Daly City, California-based Genesys is all but through the transition period and is interested in growing its 930-employee base in Indianapolis, President Tom Eggemeier told IBJ on Tuesday. He didn't specify figures but said there would be announcements soon about those plans.

Eggemeier, a Dayton, Ohio native, was in Indianapolis this week for CX 17, a 2,000-person event that merged Interactive's annual conference Interactions and Genesys' annual conference G-Force.

The following are edited excerpts from IBJ's interview on Tuesday:

IBJ: It's been about six months since the deal. What are your thoughts about the company and the city?

EGGEMEIER: First, we really appreciate the partnership that we've had with Gov. [Eric] Holcomb. We had the opportunity to meet yesterday with the governor and today with the mayor. I think the State of Indiana and Marion County really have been outstanding. I very rarely see this kind of public-private partnership anywhere in the country.

I love Indiana—except for two negative situations recently. I'm a University of Dayton basketball fan, and Dayton lost to Wichita State in Indianapolis. I went to the game. And the second thing is, our former coach, Archie Miller just got hired by Indiana University.

A little more seriously, I'm not surprised, as a [Midwest] native, but we've been really impressed with the quality of the employees and the university system here. Butler, Notre Dame, Purdue, Indiana, Rose-Hulman—the list goes on and on. We like things like the Orr Fellowship where we're getting some of the best and brightest coming every year into the company.

IBJ: Any surprises, pleasant or unpleasant?

EGGEMEIER: Nothing material. About 50 percent of Interactive's employees were based in Indianapolis, whereas Genesys at our headquarters in California is about 20 percent. So Interactive was a little more centralized. So little things like that you learn as you go that are different for processes and how you deal with people.

But really great people. Smart. Hard working. They know the space. They've been really innovative and we're really happy with the acquisition.

IBJ: Employees often take acquisitions as an opportunity to exit the company. What has that been like at Genesys, and how do you combat that?

EGGEMEIER: So, we charted out for 2017 what we thought employee voluntary attrition would be. It usually spikes during a merger because people say, "Hey, I joined a $100 million company and it's now worth $1.3 billion." So, we've actually seen a lot lower employee voluntary attrition than we anticipated.

We're going to continue to invest in employee engagement because Indianapolis is our largest office in the world, and we really believe it has great universities, the people work hard, and as a fellow Midwesterner my experience is that people stay at companies longer when you put an investment in employees. We want to continue to grow in the state of Indiana and Indianapolis.

IBJ: You mentioned attrition was lower than anticipated—do you have figures?

EGGEMEIER: We're not sharing the figures. Sorry. But it is lower than anticipated.

IBJ: Have you had people move here from other locations?

EGGEMEIER: Yeah, we're starting to see that. We actually had a husband working at Interactive Intelligence based in Canada and a wife based at Genesys based in Canada. And they're both moving to Indianapolis right now.

So, we really see—whether it's software developers, finance, human resources—is that we're going to start growing again in Indianapolis. It's just natural when you have a merger that some people leave. But we're going to start growing again in the city, and we have some people relocating in the city.

IBJ: So you have about 930 employees here. What's your vision for headcount?

EGGEMEIER: In broad terms, we expected a dip in employment just because when we were merging, we slowed down hiring, quite frankly, for a while. So when employees left, we were not hiring for a while. We've gotten through that time point and what we're doing is we're going to be having some good announcements in the upcoming weeks about different focuses that we're going to have in Indianapolis, and we think we're going to be hiring a material amount going forward.

IBJ: What went into the decision to forgo using 7676 Interactive Way [a new, 120,000-square-foot building on Interactive Intellgence's former office campus that Genesys decided not to use]?

EGGEMEIER: We have a philosophy of real estate that, on average globally we have 130 square feet per person. And Interactive Intelligence in Indianapolis was about 250 square feet per person. So, we have two buildings that we can grow hundreds and hundreds of people into, and what we're looking to do is upgrade those current buildings.

So [that building] was a situation where we didn't think we needed the building if we reconfigured the existing ones to match the square footage per person that we have in the rest of the world.

IBJ: So you've kept a few things going that Interactive had been doing, including your partnership with the Orr Fellowship and having this conference here. What else?

EGGEMEIER: We want to show that we've got a commitment to Indianapolis, and we've committed that to the governor, the secretary of commerce and the mayor. Genesys had G-Force and Interactive had Interactions. We put it together and called it CX, as in customer experience. And we wanted to make sure that our first year was in Indianapolis. We'll probably rotate it to different locations, but again, to make a really clear commitment to public officials and to our employees and customers that Indianapolis is our largest office and will continue to be our largest office.

It's really important for to continue what Interactive did. I think they did a great job in the community, with the government, with charity with the Interactive Foundation that we're going to continue. And we just want to make sure that we keep that focus and that commitment to the community.

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