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EWK - un nou jucator pe piata de Executive Search. Interviu in exclusivitate

“We believe there is room in the market for a global boutique that operates in the true spirit of partnership externally with its clients and internally with its own people. We are that firm.”Ed Kelley, CEO Edward W Kelley & Partners

dreapta, Georg Unger; stanga, Dan Piroi

HRMarket: How would you describe EWK´s organizational culture?

Georg Unger
The EWK company encompasses the former AT KEARNEY Executive Search business, one of the most respected names in business all over the world. EWK is a traditional long-established company (since 1946) and a start-up at the same time (the re-branding took place in 2005).
We are a company that acts both locally and globally, that services clients with a collaborative, personalized approach. We seek to be the best rather than the biggest. I have worked before in several industries, in several multinational companies. But I´ve never experienced such joy working with a team as I do now. It is both fun and challenging, we are both friends and colleagues and I look forward for each corporate meeting with excitement, because I know I´m meeting people close to me. We share the same vision on business, on our services, and we also manage to keep a diversity that makes work so interesting.

Dan Piroi
I first met EWK people in a conferrence that took place in Vienna, September 2006. If there was a place where it didn´t matter the position, the age, the region you come from, the EWK meeting certainly was that place. There I was, chatting with professionals with 40 years of experience, more than my age! Still, I felt so comfortable, because this is our company´s way of doing things: naturally. Relaxed. Having fun. And I never feel in the morning that I´m leaving for work: I´m just leaving home for a place where I feel so good, with true friends around me.
The coffee is good, also…just kidding!

HRMarket: What are the main reasons for EWK to consider expansion to Romania?

Georg Unger
I love Romania. I have been active here since 1994, also in executive search. I have seen this country, its economy, its society, growing and developing each year. I started the Korn/Ferry business here and I never ceased to believe in the potential of this market, even when the headquarters decided to shut down the business. Now there is a good opportunity to return to this market and we fully intend to be present here.
Our clients act both globally and locally. It is our responsibility, as their partners, to follow them wherever they require our services. Romania has been for the last years a very interesting investment opportunity for our clients and we feel that we can best provide them by being active in the markets they choose to be in.
Also, there is a growing number of Romanian and regional companies that are mature enough and open-minded enough to contract professional executive search companies in order to get the best players in their field.

Dan Piroi
The regional headquarter for EWK, Central and Eastern Europe, is in Vienna. There is a huge amount of Austrian money pouring into Romania (to mention some: OMV, Erste Bank, Raiffeisen) so it is natural for us to establish an office in Bucharest, also. Many multinationals that do business in Romania have their regional HQ in Vienna or in the region we cover and we are confident that the Bucharest office will represent another reason for partnering with us, besides our commitment and professionalism.

HRMarket: Which are EWK´s strong points in order to become a market leader in Romania?

Georg Unger
First of all, we do not intent to be the market leader, provided you measure leadership by revenue volume. We believe we can be the best. We are quality driven and flexible at the same time. We have already developed a fully functional global network, we manage to provide our clients with reliable, professional and adapted solutions also at regional and local levels. We feel that we managed to avoid the perils that other executive search companies experience. We are a wholly owned network with no internal conflicts about split of resources and fees.
Second, we put together a team that is fully able to deal with clients on local, regional and global level. Our consultants are experienced, client oriented and also well connected – networking is vital for an executive search professional.
Third, is our way of working. EWK has Practice Groups that involve senior professionals from all over the world and this way we provide our clients with the required know-how. The Practice Groups are: Business&Professional; Services, Consumer Products&Retail;, Education, Government&Not-for-Profit;, Financial Services, Industrial Markets, Life Sciences&Healthcare;, and Technology.

Dan Piroi
I´d like to add some strong points. We manage to carry out search projects faster than almost all our competitors, while managing simultaneous projects. We have also developed business relationships both at headquarters as well at subsidiaries. That means we are able to understand our client´s business both on global and local activities and projects.
And we are ambitious. We will become “the name” in executive search in Romania and CEE.

HRMarket: What are the attributes for an Executive Search professional?

Georg Unger
First of all you have to enjoy working with people. Then you need: Integrity. Professionalism. Networking. In-depth knowledge of your client´s business, industry, challenges and trends. And you have to be internationally minded. I could go on and on with attributes, I only have to think about my colleagues, my team in EWK.

Dan Piroi
That´s right. Especially in a market as Romania, networking is crucial. And we always have in mind that we are, on the one hand, our client´s ambassadors to candidates and on the other hand, we have also the responsibility of protecting our candidate’s privacy, image, and interests. We are talking about people here and this is not a subject to take easy. Also, they are placed in top positions and there is little room for error, if any…

HRMarket: What are the main challenges for an Executive Search company?

Georg Unger
The economy is becoming more and more global. This affects also every local economy. Clients expect from a search firm to understand global trends. At the same time new search firms are established nearly every day. It seems easy to start the business when you have good contacts and know a few people. The universe of executive search is split between professionals and want-to-be firms. It is often difficult for inexperienced clients to differentiate. It is important to explain the difference to clients. A challenge also is to keep the balance between depicting your client´s business in bright colours to candidates while maintaining a realistic tone and avoid over-selling. Getting the right people in your team is also a challenge.

HRMarket: How do you see the evolution of human resources in Romania?

Dan Piroi
This is quite a generous subject, far too complex to analyze it in an interview. I can share some opinions regarding the evolution of the executive search market in Romania, though. I think that this industry is still in his “pioneering” stage. We have yet to educate clients and to state the clear differences between executive search and other types of recruitment. There are still global players to join the market and they will do it when the market is mature enough or rich enough.
I believe that our business in Romania will focus on two main directions: working in international assignments that involve Romania and top positions here, on the one hand, and providing candidates for the Romanian companies that become regional and even global for their business abroad, on the other.
The years to come will bring more investments to Romania, so the need for the right people will also grow. In numbers and quality. That´s why we´re coming. There´s business here.
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