Dr Christian L. Glossner, Managing Partner, CongentisDr Christian L. Glossner, Managing Partner
There are many challenges that define an HR professional’s ability to effectively carry out his/her human capital management (HCM) operations. Currently and increasingly, a combination of three elements, namely the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, digitisation and an ageing demographic are genuine concerns. According to Christian Glossner, Managing Partner of the international human capital agency Congentis headquartered in Zurich and a university professor of economics at Oxford, these and further elements increasingly challenge an HR representative’s ability to recruit and retain a qualified and efficient workforce - there is a war for talent across the globe, especially for positions in the upper echelon of an organisation. Thus, HR departments all over the world are finding themselves in need of expert assistance.

In an exclusive interview with Manage HR, Dr Glossner shares his thoughts and ideas pertaining to the current performance of companies concerning their overall HCM functions and how they can streamline recruitment and retention processes more efficiently.

With respect to the current labour market, how has Congentis helped its clients better manage their people?

In an increasingly digitised and transparent economy, where talents are also increasingly connected and constantly seeking to improve their professional and personal situation, it is all the more critical, in our service-focused industries, in particular, to provide more than a job, but rather a career and platform for professional perspectives. This is because it is not only about recruiting, but also about retaining the right candidates. Thus, Congentis provides holistic yet tailored human capital solutions and accompanies both candidates in their professional careers and corporate partners with regards to career design. Our staff has served many years as consultants and line managers, and, thus, we believe that a thoroughly professional experience within the right networks helps our candidates and partners. We aim to provide innovative and sustainable human capital solutions.

How does Congentis initiate relationships with each of its clients?

Well, first of all, we prefer to call our clients partners. Most of them, generally the owner, executive, managing director and/or the line manager, approach us expressing their general and specific pain points. Accordingly, we provide advice and also help fill key vacancies enabling and facilitating our partners to focus on their core business. These roles include also executive and other top-tier positions in management. Congentis looks for people with impressive academic qualifications, professional experience, and, most importantly, the drive to constantly improve. It is very crucial that a candidate possesses all three of these elements.

Please elaborate on Congentis’ portfolio of services. Are there any technological tools involved in the process?

Well, we are not a recruitment company or head-hunting firm, we are a human capital agency, which means we are an agent to human capital accompanying the entire career path – as mentioned earlier, the difficulty is not to recruit, but to retain talent. We combine our very own professional network with personal referrals and data-driven recruitment solutions. Upon identification and after personally interviewing each candidate regarding person-organization fits, we provide specific services around contract review, relocation, immigration, taxation, and career planning to deliver a truly holistic HCM experience. Beyond, for our corporate partners, we combine the latest academic research regarding strategic human resources, high-commitment HCM, reciprocity and reputation, employer branding, performance evaluations, and improvement, career designs, training, as well as transaction cost and employment economics.
There are hundreds of HR tools and methods that can help in our operation. But at the end of the day, it comes down to conducting a personal interview and possessing a certain intuition when selecting a candidate. Person-to-person contact proves to be more promising in delivering effective results in HCM. For example, if a large organisation needed a new director for strategy, there may only be about a handful of individuals that are fit to assume the position. In such cases, HR solutions and online professional services are not effective.

At Congentis, we combine the latest academic research regarding strategic human resources, high-commitment HCM, reciprocity and reputation, employer branding, performance evaluations and improvement, career designs, training, as well as transaction cost and employment economics; we aim to provide holistic, innovative and sustainable human capital solutions to both candidates and corporate partners

I personally have been in many situations where managing directors and chairmen of banks and big corporations reach out, requesting the right talent that matches a specific profile. For one particular case, there were only eight qualified candidates in all of Europe. It is a very niche market. We absolutely must be part of this vast, professional network to maintain the credibility and access to place people in crucial positions successfully. You can hardly replace that ability with a technical tool.

Is there a case study to help showcase Congentis’ capabilities?

For instance, on a Thursday some years ago, I received a call from a managing partner of a renowned management consultancy that had just acquired a new and large project for which the firm did not have the necessary number of full-time equivalents. The challenge was to staff the team to start with the client onsite by the following Monday. We immediately introduced the first potential candidates, interviews with the client were conducted on Friday, and we finally managed to not only successfully recruit a qualified team but also to provide relocation and onboarding services over the weekend. A small team of qualified, motivated, and committed management consultants started with our client’s project on Monday morning.

What would you comment on the future of talent recruitment and looking ahead where do you see your own business?

Many professionals would say that the three challenges of COVID-19, digitisation, and an ageing demographic aggravates the recruitment of the right people. To overcome these hurdles, the market is moving in two directions: in the first, we will see lower and mid-level employees getting laid off; the second revolves around head-hunting, where very few people are sought-after in all sorts of industries. Congentis is helping both candidates and corporate partners to cope with these developments and disruptions.

Whilst we initially had no particular ambition to expand our business into new geographies and industries as the ones we covered kept us busy, again, various requests to recruit for new clients from different markets, such as China and Silicon Valley, and industries including software and academia led us to the decision—if not necessity—to increase our own staff and to found sister companies to serve different markets and sectors.

Due to the fact that we have a rather unique position and good reputation in the market, and, beyond, hold all relevant recruitment permits allowing us to serve our clients holistically and globally, we did in fact, receive various offers to sell Congentis to bigger recruiters or human resource firms. However, for the time being, we do not intend to sell.