Phone: +43 1 533.83.57
Fax: +43 1 5126.96.36.199
Mrs. Daniela Ossikovska started her professional career as a research associate in the Institute of Ecology at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Since 1991 she has been running a private business. Mrs. Ossikovska has a master degree in Economics and Psychology. She has finished postgraduate qualifications in Marketing, Management and Human Resources in Austria and USA. Mrs. Ossikovska is a member of the gallery of Best Business Women of United Nations.
Boyden is one of the biggest companies in the world, working in the area of executive search of top managers – the fifth largest company in the world according to the search of Search Consult for 2007 and among the first six according to the International Association of Corporate and Professional Recruitment. Boyden is present in the Bulgarian market since 2007.
Mrs. Ossikovska, what are the outlines of the Bulgarian labor market according to the last search of Boyden?
Boyden targets high managerial positions only. In this segment the lack of candidates for Bulgaria is not so significant as at the lower hierarchical levels. However, sometimes when we have special skills requirements, we are forced to search in other countries for candidates. The international search process in our corporation is extremely facilitated because we count on the experience of our colleagues from different countries in the world. The last example is a position, for which we worked together with our colleagues from Australia and South America and we presented candidates from more than seven nationalities. But opposite examples are existing as well – colleagues from other countries are looking for our help for recruiting Bulgarian professionals for positions outside Bulgaria. Usually, in our market segment, the deficit, i.e. the turnover is not very high par comparison with the other recruitment agencies, working for the middle and low levels.
This is determined not only by the quantity and quality of the people available but also by their motivation. A manager who has reached a high level already follows a specific system of motivational factors, which are different from these of the lower levels. Of course, we cannot generalize – every person is a unique combination of skills, qualities and motivations.
On the other side, the services of Boyden are demanded by clients due to niche needs for certain positions and the normal management rotation. Each level and company are specific, there are no ready-made models. An important tendency for our market is the increasing number of the managerial positions – since Bulgaria is part of the EU, a lot of companies, which had some restraints for establishing in Bulgaria before (I am talking about small and medium enterprises) have already felt more confident and have opened offices here.
Another important tendency – the compensation of the top managers in Bulgaria is becoming close to the level in the other countries. Ant this will continue to develop. If we have a look at the purchasing capacity of the top managers, Bulgaria is among the first 30 places in the world.
The specific of our services is to find the missing piece of the puzzle or a gar.
One of the main factors which we respect is the organization culture. But of course, it is not the only one – the strategic vision, team fitting, personal qualities, professional skills and knowledge are also very important. An individual approach towards the positions and the clients but also towards each separate candidate is crucial.
Bulgarian market is still not saturated of professional executive search services – there are a number of companies which declare that they are offering the service for top managers but even the fingers of a hand are more than the companies that are specialized in this area and perform at high professional level. There is still a place for development.
Could you share with us your experience and approach for candidates’ recruiting?
There is a small possibility to see an announcement of Boyden in the media. We publish only in exceptional cases. Our company is using several methods to find and attract candidates:
Headhunting – We map the market and the segments where it is possible to find the suitable managers. We analyze not only the industry, for which we search for candidates but also similar ones as well as industries which could give appropriate experience. The process includes identifying companies in the specific sector, collecting information for the companies’ reputation, their structures and achievements, defining suitable managers, recommendations. This is pure headhunting – “cold” contact – when you do not know the concrete person.
Database – Boyden team has had experience on the Bulgarian market since 2001 and has a large data base of different managers.
Networking – Contacts in different social areas. That is one of the reasons why Boyden is part of many professional and business organizations.
Mrs. Ossikovska, what qualities should your employees have for evaluating the good candidate?
The main characteristic of our business is that the clients (managers who approach us to find people for their company) and the candidates are at one and the same level. For this reason a hierarchical structure in a firm like ours is not appropriate. For example – the head/senior of the structure to be responsible for the new businesses and the contracts, and a junior to attract candidates, interview them and communicate with them – this is unacceptable, will be disrespectful towards the candidates and will be unprofessional. It is not possible an employee who is not at the same level as the candidate to judge his qualities. In Boyden we have no employees, we have partners.
The best headhunters in the world are people who already built a corporate carrier (especially in the field of marketing and sales). After that, at a certain point of their lives (40-50 years-old) they leave the corporate world and become headhunters, either developing their own business or as partners in consulting companies. When they interview a candidate they know what it is all about from professional point of view. They know what kind of questions to ask in order to receive the right answers and to understand the skills and experience of the person at the opposite side. They know how to ask to predispose the candidate. These are people who are well known in society and have enough experience of life.
If in an executive search company there is one strong personality and 3-4 young employees, does not matter how ambitious and clever the last ones are, it is not a professional agency. The interviewers, the people who lead a project from client to candidate, have to be at the same professional level.
Is there feedback after choosing the suitable candidate?
It is obligatory. It is a two sides process – for the client and for the engaged candidate and it last for months.
Boyden is a “boutique” company if we judge on the number of position we are working for in a year. We give a warranty between 6 and 12 months. That means if a candidate is appointed by his employer but later is dismissed for nonperformance within the indicated period, Boyden takes the responsibility to search for another candidate with no additional payment.
The feedback is compulsory because we work with candidates and clients for whom the good team work is really important. It is obvious that Boyden, due the specifics of the service, could not give 100% guarantee for both sides. But we are obliged to collect the most detailed and in dept information, and to analyze it in both directions. When we initiate a project, we do not carry on a conversation only with the executive manager but we perform a mini survey - we go to the client’s office and talk with other people. We need to “feel” what kind of person we are looking for, what are the specifics in the company structure, and what kind of person would be most suitable for it. As for the candidate – we are looking for references and other opinions for the concrete person.
The main pledge for a successful manager (except knowledge, skills and relevant experience) is that he/she feels well. We are not traders, we are advisers. So, we give feedback to both sides for a lot of months.
Recently the tendency all over the world is for shortening the stay at one and the same position. The mobility is necessary. The world experience shows that a particular managerial position is usually occupied by a person for a period between 3 and 5 years.
Is there any need of national strategy for Human Resources Development?
An adequate National Strategy for Human Resources Development is the base for building a stable Bulgarian management layer. The strategy does not directly affect our activity but guarantees the future for the Bulgarian management. The top managers are growing from the middle management positions. The better legislative and institutional conditions for development we have, the better and more competitive the Bulgarian managers would be at the European market.
This interview of Daniela Ossikovska, Managing Director of Boyden Sofia appeared in a December 2008 issue of a Bulgarian Human Resource Magazine.