Kelly Liu has been the managing director of Monroe Consulting Group China for two days. She sat down with writer Cameron Bates to introduce herself and the skills and experience that she brings to the international award winning executive recruitment company’s operations in China.
Please tell me about your background in the recruitment industry?
I was in marketing with an information technology company for about two years before joining the recruitment industry nearly nine years ago. My first executive search company, like Monroe, was a multinational with a number of very large corporate clients in the industrial sector, such as Honeywell, Schneider and Siemens. Two years later, I established my own company with a group of friends. That was about three months before the 2007-2008 Global Economic Crisis (laughs). Investments dried up and I was back to a second multinational recruitment company as a consultant with a primary focus on the industrial sector and business development. I was promoted to senior consultant within 1.5 years, leading a team of two people. After two years I was tasked solely in project management in recruiting process outsourcing – we were helping to recruit for major projects, actually running the recruitment process from inside the company. I was in charge of one project within BP, for example. In nine months, I was able to fill 25 senior positions and provide valuable advice and input to the company about its staffing structure and organizational set-up. I was promoted to Industrial Team Leader after that, managing about six to seven professional recruiters. In this role I could add yet another facet to my abilities as a recruiter: teaching, mentoring and developing junior recruitment consultants. The bigger picture stuff was also important. Developing key accounts, for example.
So you have been focused almost entirely on industrial recruiting during your long and successful career?
It is true that two years ago I was focused on automotive and industrial components, but I began to move into industrial solutions, what we call hard wheel and soft wheel industrial solutions. But I have covered a large range of fields during my career – there is no limit to the regional or niche industries that I have been exposed to, including among small- to middle-sized recruiting.
You certainly appear to have the experience and character that Monroe wants from each of its managing directors in Asia, including that entrepreneurial spirit that is so important. Is that what drew you to the company?
Yes, absolutely. I’ve been given a great opportunity with Monroe in China. As you know the company has successful operations throughout Southeast Asia, including in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia. And in South and Central America. I want to combine all my strengths in the recruitment side. This includes targeting key accounts. These will be larger local groups of companies, very senior level recruitment. For me, personally, I will be implementing 360 degree recruitment, providing total solutions. We provide not only the best service, but the best people for the best positions. In China the market is quite tough, but for our business we still have a very large development space.
What do you like most about Monroe?
Monroe has won a number of international recruitment awards. It was twice awarded ‘Best Small Recruitment Business’ in the Asia Pacific region at the Global Recruiter Industry Awards in 2015 and 2014 and has been named a finalist in 2016. You don’t win these awards for no reason. Monroe Group Managing Director Andrew Hairs, who is based in Jakarta but travels throughout Asia, has provided the company with the structure and resources needed to succeed but also allows his MDs a degree of freedom to cater to our individual strengths. He also places a great emphasis on developing recruitment consultants and the recruitment industry in general in each of the countries in which he operates. This for me is key. And of course, Monroe has implemented very detailed mechanisms to ensure that each of our clients receives the services they demand, including the best executives available. It was an honour to join such a company. We have a very good team spirit, there is a real will to share, to help each other.
What are you immediate plans for Monroe in China?
I have only been in the position for two days but my stated aim is to target leading Chinese companies in their niche industries, particularly small- to medium-sized companies with very good margins, as well as leading brands in the market. Also, to develop a strong team of consultants with strong recruiting service capabilities will be one of my main priorities moving forward.