Join us on this exclusive fireside chat with Andrew Hairs, Group Managing Director of Monroe Consulting Group, and Eloise Sutton-Kirkby, Sales & Marketing Director at Vincere. In this interview, Andrew shares more about Monroe, the key differences between growing a business in emerging versus developed markets, why KPI matters and much more.
Eloise: Tell us a bit about Monroe and what you do with them.
Andrew: Monroe is quite a strange company in the fact that we are specialists in the emerging markets. So unlike a lot of multi-national recruitment companies who start in London, Australia, Europe or America and then came out to Asia and the emerging markets. We actually grew up in the emerging markets. So that makes us quite unique in the fact that you won’t find us with an office in New York or Tokyo, London. We are in countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, China, Chile & Mexico.
Eloise: So Monroe has been expanding quite steadily. What are plans for the future?
Andrew: We want to continue to grow our footprint in the emerging markets. So we’re pretty much there with South East Asia at the moment. I mean there are still other markets to look at: Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, etc. But they are not really in the size of the recruitment market that it makes sense to move in there. South America, Latin America is very much of interest to us. We have an office in Chile, we have an office in Mexico at the moment. What we learned there is, it takes time so we can’t grow as rapidly as we do in Asia...in Asia we can start an office and it can be steadily productive with a team of 20 people by year 3. In the Latin America market, you’ll probably looking 5 years to achieve what you achieve in 3 years here in Asia.
Eloise: Talk o me about the key differences in building a business in emerging markets versus developed markets such as the UK or Australia?
Andrew: I think it comes down to understanding the markets. So, imagine a recruitment agency starts in the UK and part of their success is developing a business model that works very well for the UK market. The UK market is very different to, say, Indonesia. So the training, the culture of the company, the processes that you’ve built in that company, they are great for the UK, and highly successful in the UK. However, if you try to implement those same processes within Indonesia, they’re just not going to match the business culture. The process of recruitment really doesn’t change from country to country - but the training that you give your consultants, the cultures and the activities they have to work with, it's a different ballgame. All of that gives us an edge our competitor because we really understand what it takes to do recruitment in emerging markets.
Eloise: You’re looking for recruitment consultants to build up your business, what do you look for?
Andrew: We don’t ever recruit consultants from other recruitment businesses. That’s for couple of reasons...
One is especially when we’re growing offices and developing new offices, we are very conscious that we want them to develop within Monroe culture. If you start recruiting from other recruitment agencies then it’s very difficult to build the company culture because then, they’ll bring in their old habits, their old traits, their old culture to a new business. So that makes it very difficult. So we look for raw talent, and we’ll develop that talent. So what I look for is potential. Typically our ideal recruitment consultant is their second job, possibly their third job, occasionally we’ll take fresh graduates. We find fresh graduate, we can train them, we can develop them, they’ll be great for the job but because it’s their first job, they want to see what else is out there afterwards. So we found out retention is better if they’ve experienced working for couple of businesses before, because then they’ll realize how good they’ve got it with us, rather than “ I just want to see what else is good out there” . There are couple of things we look for as well, we look for good communication skills. If we’re in an interview and we like the person and we’re interested in the person, and they’re asking us good questions and they might not have the experience in recruitment, but if they’re just naturally inquisitive person, they’re engaging when you speak to them, that’s 90% of the battle in the recruiter right? And then we look for motivation and that motivation can be money, or it can come from wanting to prove a point to their family.
Eloise: As Managing Director do you believe in KPIs?
Andrew: Yes, heavily. That again fits into how understanding the emerging market and how best to build a recruitment business in emerging market. So, if you look back at the education system in Australia, UK, European, the developed countries, the education system there has gone through some changes, started with rote learning recently moved into encouraging people in education to question things and to investigate and to find their own solutions to things.
Whereas within the markets we’re in, a lot of that learning is still rote learning. This is something I learnt very quickly when I came into South East Asia, was that bringing in UK style of management which is to encourage them to explore the problem and to come up with the solution as a team, it just didn’t work. You know I’m sitting there in a very quiet room with no one talking to me, and after 3 or 4 meetings like that, I asked the direct answer why no one is talking to me and you know the rather blunt answer was ‘You flown. over here, you’re the boss , if you don’t know why should we know? So just tell us what to do…”. Once you latch into that because they have been educated in the style of : This is the answer, Write it down, learn it, do it, then you can build a successful business.
So with our process, it’s very very structured, gives them a great framework which they can work to and understand and deliver great results and then lay on top of that the KPIs, telling someone if you do this, this and this and achieve these numbers, you will have the results at the end. So combining both of those is massively important in emerging markets.
Eloise: How important do you think recruitment software is in running a successful recruitment firm, or scaling it?
Andrew: Scaling it is definitely important. That’s part of the problems we had as we’ve grown. Since we’ve grown, Vincere is our 4th recruitment software.
The first recruitment software... we sorted of inherited it. It was just an old piece of technology, didn’t add much to the company so we looked around to find a different recruitment software. I really like the guy behind the company, I really like his product but it was a very small operation and as we grew, he could not grow with us.
So then we moved again, and again we found a company that was a little bit bigger but again we ran into growth issues. We ended it up having to split out database, having new database for each country rather than having centralized database. We found it quite frustrating that support time they were running was in the UK and we were all in Asia, mostly. So, the support was an issue for us. And also, the slowdown of system overtime.. As we grew, the system seems to crumble and I think that’s true with a lot of recruitment systems because the majority of the accounts that you sign up are 10 people, 15 people at the moment, once it’s getting to 100, 150 plus then things become very different.
Eloise: Why did you choose Vincere?
Andrew: There’s a couple of things. So, firstly when we looked out there on the market, the number 1 thing I wanted was that it could cope with multiple languages. You know we have an office in China, and yet we had recruitment software that could not understand or search across Mandarin characters. That was problematic because we are an international business and we will be going to countries where English isn’t spoken. That was number one and that’s something Vincere did very well. Not only can we search our data in foreign languages and foreign characters but also what I really liked was you have the ability to change the language that you view the product in. So this gives me the ability to have the recruitment consultancy in Indonesia who can see the system in Indonesian, in Vietnam and seeing it in Vietnamese, in Chile and Mexico and see it in Spanish, it just makes it easier for consultants to work with rather than having to always have to work in their second language.
The other thing I like about Vincere is that it’s very process driven, KPI driven which is well match to Monroe Consulting Group, the chevrons at the top of each page which sort of map out each stage of the process and then have visual reminders, visual counts for our recruitment consultants so they know exactly they have to do to move on to the next stage. That was a big factor to me because it simplifies it and again, it’s about knowing your market, knowing what works best in your market, being able to tell your consultants: What you do is come in everyday, open up this, your jobs and click on shortlisted candidates and get your shortlisted candidates to CV sent and click on your CV sent candidates and move them to first interview. Every single day, go on, follow the process, simplifies the whole recruitment process, and demystifies everything. That’s very important to me.
Then I guess the final thing is the Analytics. Being able to see across all of my international offices and being able to look at them one by one or being able to look at them as entire group and being able to sort of identify top billers and drill down into activities and find out why they are top billers, and to being able to share that information with the people, other consultants so that they can help themselves as well.
The other one I really like is the rotting report on the fee forecaster. Being able to quickly identify what revenue you’ve got in pipeline but more importantly, how much of those revenues isn’t moving, so as a manager you can quickly identify the value of the positions we got which are too long in the pipeline. And we can speak to the consultant, we can work with that consultant, we can work with the client to move that forward. Hopefully overtime, the speed between when we pick of the job and fill the job is a lot more efficient.
Eloise: You’ve seen a lot of systems. How you think we compare?
Andrew: Yeah, I think you stack up very well and that's why we've committed to a long-term partnership with Vincere. The frustration I had when I looked at the recruitment systems out there because I was actually very close to going down the road and develop something myself, which thank Goodness I didn’t do that…
But many of the recruitment companies which I see out there, they started 15-20 years ago, and they keep bolting things on and bolting things on, so essentially what you’ve got is a 15 year old product, with feature bolted onto it, they become very clumsy. What I identified is that, the countries I’m in, when you speak to a software company, and you say you’re from Indonesia, they’re like “Oh,I’m wasting my time here”.
I think working with a company that is based in Asia, understands Asia has been very beneficial to our business. I also like the fact that Bernie is an ex-MD recruiting business and built a successful recruitment business then converted it to software. So, instead of me having to say “Your product should do this , this, this” , Bernie will come back with “ What we should do is this”.
Looking at other products, getting the updates - not very regular, very expensive, don’t understand our nature and don’t offer the support out for my businesses, whereas for us, we are a very better match with Vincere.
For more information about Monroe Consulting, please visit: https://www.monroeconsulting.com/