Felipe Hirschberg is the Managing Director of Monroe Consulting Group Chile, part of the wider Monroe Group that has been recognised as one of the leading executive recruitment companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Mr Hirschberg sat down with journalist Cameron Bates to discuss the recruitment industry in Chile and some of the key factors behind Monroe’s success in emerging markets around the world.
Please tell me about yourself.
My name is Felipe Hirschberg. I am running Monroe Consulting Group Chile as Managing Director. I studied business administration at a private school in Chile. After that I worked for four years in the television industry and in advertising as the programme manager for a local station. All of my life I have been in sales and marketing. For a couple of years I owned a clothing store – I have a very entrepreneurial profile (laughs). When I closed the store, I started working in recruitment. At that time, recruitment in Chile wasn’t very popular, there weren’t very many multinational middle-management brands: recruitment companies were predominantly smaller local companies. From 2011 to 2012, that changed. So I have experienced that transition period and am delighted to be at Monroe.
This ‘entrepreneurial background’ that you mentioned is obviously something that Monroe look for in a Managing Director?
Definitely. The entrepreneurial factor is a major factor that Monroe seek. Another important factor is business development, an area I also have extensive experience in the recruitment industry. So now, this position with Monroe is the natural progression for me; it fits my profile well and has been something I have been waiting for – to manage a successful recruitment company in Chile.
How is Monroe placed in Chile today?
The company was established by Monroe Group Regional Director Andrew Hairs and Managing Direct Monica Viladot Medina in January 2014. Monica, from Spain, was sourced from Monroe’s Indonesian office and has returned to Southeast Asia to take over operations in Malaysia. The start-up performed very well but this time around Monroe were looking for more of a local flavor and knowledge, because there are a lot of cultural factors at play in Chile in order to develop recruitment companies and build brands. Chile takes a lot of time because it is very much about trust, knowing people, building relationships.
That is what I was told, that relationships can take time to build. Can you elaborate on that?
Yes, it is a mix. Chile also respects established brands that have already been successful in the international market but you also need sound advice on establishing relationships, particularly building these relationships with the right people. It can be quite time consuming to develop trust and establish business with a new client, particularly if you haven’t worked for them before. Southeast Asia, where Monroe is primarily based, is a long way from South America and they don’t have references from companies there. This is why local knowledge is so important. Again, it is trust. You have to meet at least two times with the client and they know the market is competitive, so it’s tough. But it can be done.
Monroe obviously has a successful formula. It won ‘Best Small Recruitment Business’ in the Asia Pacific at the Global Recruiter Industry Awards in 2013 and 2014, and has been shortlisted for a third straight year in 2015. How can you adopt this successful strategy in Chile?
The most important thing, and this is why I took this opportunity in Chile, is Monroe has an extremely in-depth knowledge in emerging markets and they are internationally recognised for this. And this is a key for me. Chile has been treated largely as a developed recruitment market but it hasn’t been treated as it should be, as an emerging market. Monroe is part of Empresaria Group, a company headquartered in England where recruitment started, so they know everything about recruitment, but more importantly, under Monroe, they know how to develop in emerging markets. I have seen many companies engage in Chile but they haven’t understood the fundamentals of the market. Monroe has the structure, a very detailed structure, and the patience to succeed. I am confident about that. There have been hundreds of people that have tried to start recruitment businesses but they all seem to fail in the short term because you really need to have the structure behind you. And the other thing, of course, is Monroe’s respect for its client base, the way it treats its clients. This is how you establish trust.
And you have had an instant impact, building on the good work prior to you joining Monroe?
Yes. We have a number of multinational clients with which we have established trust. For me, we are a good fit, it suits the way I work. We are strong in the financial sector, we have a number of banks that we work closely with; retailers; consumer goods, we are strong. Monroe is continuing to grow and the future is very positive.