By Bharati Jagdish
It’s a dramatic mosaic of purpose, courage, grit and strategic-thinking, among other things.
After revealing the reasons behind the genesis of PeopleSearch, the various efforts to amplify its presence in the face of more established, formidable competitors in the early years, and the determination to continue making inroads while weathering crises, Group Managing Director, Lorencz Tay and Group Business Leader, PeopleSearch Taiwan, Steven Lim look back on the firm’s growth.
However, while reminiscing about the various milestones, they are clearly grounded in the present.
“The journey is not over yet. The reason we have succeeded so far is because we always focus on now and the future, and what we can do better. We don’t fixate on the past or on other people’s experiences,” says Lorencz.
It is this philosophy that has underpinned the firm’s expansion over the last 20 years.
“DON’T BOTHER, YOU’LL FAIL”
After having succeeded in Taiwan in 2000, the team expanded to Singapore in 2001.
Lorencz was determined to have a presence in Japan next, but he found himself inundated by naysayers.
“Many people came to me and said, “Bigger, more successful companies that yours have gone to Japan and failed. Don’t bother. You’ll fail too.” I was really surprised by this.”
However, he knew from the beginning that he wasn’t going to let the negativity prevail.
“How could we not have a presence in what was then the world’s second-largest economy?”
So he and his team replicated the winning model that was already entrenched in Taiwan and Singapore to succeed in Japan.
“I always feel that if we can’t make it work, it’s because of a flaw in us. There must be something we can do better to make it work. We can’t blame it all on external factors.”
In fact, he has the same philosophy when it comes to dealing with crises, including the economic fallout from the current Covid-19 pandemic.
“There must be a way to overcome this – whether it’s by always being ready for crises by being prudent and having contingency plans in place, whether it’s by working harder to find and capture new markets, or changing the business model – there’s always a way.”
“BEING THERE” FOR CLIENTS
Steven attributes the various growth milestones and successes to an excellence and achievement-oriented culture.
His pioneering team of less than 10 people in Taiwan burgeoned and today, stands at 80.
“We’ve had various challenges over the years. When the larger recruitment firms started entering the Taiwan market too, some clients would tell us that they would rather use them as they were charging lower fees. My response was always: I can’t beat them on price, but I am committed to beating them on service.”
He would tell clients to try the new players if they wished, but also that the PeopleSearch team would be there for them if they were needed. Being committed to “being there” for clients has made all the difference because as Steven explains, “relationships are really important and when we genuinely care for our clients, they can sense it.”
“Most of the time, the client would come back. Even today, we make sure they know that for us, it’s not just about filling the position, it’s about ensuring that we fill the position with the best person to take their organisation to the next level. We are trained to see things that they might miss when sizing up a person. This certainly adds value.”
“I’ve always believed in the human touch,” says Steven when asked about how online job search and placement platforms might threaten the relevance of recruitment firms.
“Online platforms function very well as databases. But sizing up a person, their motivations, ability to take on a job, ability to fit into an organisation, yet bring something new to it – all these things require initiative and discernment and I’m always proud when we are able to use our abilities to improve someone’s career or business.”
Hear from others who’ve been instrumental in taking these competencies to the next level in future editions of “20 Years of PeopleSearch”.