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Hays makes haste in KL

Published on Friday, 31 Aug 2012
Chris Mead
Photo: Hays

Recruitment agency Hays recently celebrated the launch of its first Malaysian office. The new branch is overseen by Chris Mead, the company’s regional director for Southeast Asia. He talks about the rationale behind the opening and how companies can keep their cool in one of the region’s hottest job markets.

Why did Hays choose to open an office in Malaysia?
Hays is committed to extending our services to clients throughout Asia and following the success of our operation in Singapore, a Malaysian office was the logical next step. We have been planning it for some time as we see this as a key strategic region for Hays’ growth.

Have you made any internal transfers to staff the new office?
Yes. While we maintain a policy of hiring local people for the majority of our roles, in order to ensure our new business succeeds we have a “cosmopolitan” office with staff from England, Ireland, Australia and India. We actively promote global mobility for our staff, and their expertise and capabilities will be shared with the entire team through training, on-the-job coaching and mentoring.

Who are the key executives on site?
Lisa Stanhope, Tom Osborne, Balaji Ramadas and Nicky Leavey form the leadership team.

How much time do you spend there yourself?
I travel to the office at least once a month. Malaysia is a fantastic place and the economy is quite resilient. I always speak with our clients when I am in town and the main topic is the significant talent shortage facing businesses.

Are you still taking on consultants?
Absolutely. The business is in strong growth mode and we are always seeking dedicated, professional consultants at all levels who are seeking a fantastic career with Hays.

On which industry sectors will you initially focus your efforts?
We currently focus on accountancy and finance, human resources, sales and marketing, oil and gas, and IT. In the near future we will extend our expertise to banking, construction, property and rail.

What percentage of your client base do you expect to be made up of local companies as opposed to multinational companies?
It’s a good mix right now at about 50/50 and I expect that to largely remain the same.

How will you differentiate yourself from competitors?
At Hays we pride ourselves on the quality of our work and the quality of our consultants, which allows us to recruit qualified, professional and skilled people across a wide range of industries and professions. Our consultants are experts in the vertical market for which they recruit and this allows them to truly understand our clients and candidates. We work as trusted advisers and talent partners.

Our ability to reach across the world to the 32 other countries we operate in and bring Malaysians back home has also been very well received.

Are there any differences in the way the new office will be run relative to other Hays branches?
Hays is one brand the world over and every customer should experience the same quality of service, regardless of location. Of course, each Hays country and office has its own local cultural flavour, but ultimately it is our deep expertise across a wide spectrum of specialised industries and professions that makes us unparalleled recruiters in the world of work.

Are there any cultural factors you’ve had to take into consideration?
Malaysia has its own culture and indeed subcultures, and at Hays we are always mindful to be aware and respectful of people’s cultural backgrounds, beliefs and practices. This is the same in any Hays office around the world.

Have you run into any surprises?
It’s not so much a surprise, but it has been a joy to experience the openness of both businesses and candidates alike who appreciate a consultancy that focuses on quality of service and the ability to deliver.

On a lighter note I was surprised by how much better the beef rendang is in Malaysia. It’s the best in the world!

How receptive have you found candidates to be to agencies?
In a word, very. At Hays, we believe the right job can transform a person’s life and the right person can transform a business. Candidates in Malaysia have been very receptive to us because they see we are genuinely passionate about connecting our candidates with the right job for them. They really appreciate that we take the time to build a deep understanding of their skills and personality. We also give objective, straight-up advice on how to achieve career aspirations in the short, medium and long term.

Do you plan to open offices elsewhere in the country?
Potentially in the future, yes. For the moment we are solely based in Kuala Lumpur.

How about offices in other Asian countries?
Yes, absolutely. We are very excited about the prospects in Asia and remain committed to growing a significant presence across the region.

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