Sunday, 8 January 2012

Interview with Alex Grech, director at MUOVO


This interview with Muovo director Alex Grech originally appeared in the Malta Chamber of Commerce publication The Commercial Courier  in the October-November 2011 issue, which focused on HR and recruitment start ups in Malta.

CC:  What were the main factors that led you to establishing the company – what opportunities did you see in the market?

AG: When we set up Muovo, we believed that there was a gap in the local recruitment market that we
could fill because of our local industry know-how and international expertise. We decided to focus
exclusively on sourcing professional positions, initially in the technology sector where all the founders
had extensive experience as industry consultants, technology and web developers. We gradually
added specialist outsourcing to our core recruitment services, to meet the requests of both clients and
professionals looking for project work, as opposed to traditional career paths. These days, Muovo
also specialises in sourcing executives for the financial sector.

CC: In your experience to date – what are the main obstacles that you have had to overcome
establish the company, penetrate the market and consolidate your client base?

AG: In 2007 we were a start-up in a market that was already dominated by a handful of large HR
recruitment firms. Soon after we set up, the emergence of the online gaming sector attracted a
veritable gold rush of recruiters, including overseas entities and individuals relocating to Malta. We
decided that we’d stick with sectors where we knew we had hands-on expertise, rather than follow the
scatter-gun approach of some of our direct competitors. The recruitment sector is a reputation game
– we focused on doing our absolute best, irrespective of the nature of the particular assignment or the
longevity of our relationship with the client. Since the best referrals are always word of mouth, we did
very little advertising, if any – our early clients became our best references.

CC:  What has your strategy been in response to these challenges?

AG: To survive in the recruitment sector, you cannot operate as a passive intermediary – those days are
long gone. This strategy has been totally about adding value to our clients. Any company needs to
differentiate its offerings to survive, let alone do well in a crowded market like Malta.

Over the past years, we had several instances of foreign specialists moving to Malta without much
prior knowledge of living and working in the country. We have a network of associates who work
alongside our team to ensure that the candidate’s move to Malta is as seamless as possible.
Conversely, we are aware that time is a premium for everyone: our teams are set up to acquire a
quick understanding of our clients’ business cultures and work ethics to ensure that we can provide
the right shortlist of candidates in the shortest possible timeframes.

CC:  Did the economic downturn affect the company and if so – how, and what action was
taken?

AG: The economic downturn hit all companies – particularly those in the recruitment sector, as many
organisations go for a headcount freeze when times get rough. In our sector, it’s also challenging
as in most cases we only get paid in the case of a successful placement. We’ve survived and even
thrived by working harder than ever at providing clients with innovative solutions, such as outsourcing;
and using down-time to cross-train staff.

CC: How have you ensured that you stand out from your competitors – what do you offer that
is different or better than others operating within the market?

We always wanted to be a boutique firm at Muovo. Our approach is about personalising the job
search and adding the intelligent human sourcing aspect to recruitment. We do not deluge our clients
with applications, but make sure that we create the relevant human connections. We do this by
immediately developing a deep understanding of the cultural issues at stake within the company.
We also use technology and lever on our in-house expertise in the strategic use of social media
tools to continue to enjoy an active database of valid candidates. We’re shortly launching our new
social-facing website to provide new features for our clients and candidates, wherever they choose to
operate online and offline. What differentiates us most is that we have some great people on board.

CC: What is your competitive strategy – is it price based, quality-based etc – or perhaps a mixture?

It has to be a mix of both – but if we had to choose, it’s always a quality solution.

CC: What are you plans and goals for the development of the company over the short, medium
and long term?

AG: We’re focusing on providing flexible options for companies who need to recruit for short term projects. One way we do this is by bridging the gap between companies and young people, specifically recent graduates, who are given the chance to work reduced hours for forward-looking organisations, gain soft skills and real work experience while they are still studying. We’re also looking at levering on our extensive overseas networks to also help people who are looking for a career move overseas.

CC: In a nutshell, how would you summarise the secrets to your success to date?

AG: We understand the challenges that our clients face because we’ve got first-hand experience
operating in the same sectors. We engage people who are curious and want to grow with us, and
our candidates trust us because we give them value to their job search, enabling the fruitful meeting
of professionals who are willing to work with those who want to engage them.

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